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Croatia: Finally, membership of the EU is a reality
Monday, 01 July 2013 07:02

KucicOn 1 July 2013 Croatia officially became the 28th Member State of the EU, the culmination of a negotiation process that lasted from 2005 to 2011. As a fully fledged member of the EU Croatia will be represented in the European Commission by Mr Neven Mimica, the former Deputy Prime Minister for Home, Foreign and European Affairs, who will hold the portfolio of consumer protection.

Croatia will also have 12 seats in the European Parliament and 7 votes on the European Council. Accession to the EU was widely regarded as positive by the Croatian people, over 66% of whom supported it in a referendum in January 2012. More recent polls show that 46% of the population is positively inclined toward the EU, others worry that accesion will drive up the cost of living.

The EU is Croatia’s most important trading partner accepting almost 60% of its exports. Within the fisheries sector companies export demersal and small pelagic fish, as well as seabass and seabream. Italy, thanks to its proximity, is an important market for Croatian seafood and exporters anticipate that joining the EU will facilitate the movement of fisheries products across the border and shorter transit times. Several companies have invested in expanding their operations convinced that joining the EU will offer opportunities to increase production. The government too is hoping that accession will attract foreign investment boosting growth and employment.

At the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Ljubomir Ku?i?, Assistant Minister for Fisheries is cautiously optimistic about accession, though there are concerns, for example, about the lack of support for vessel scrapping, without which it will be difficult to decommission vessels. Joining the EU will no doubt bring challenges, he says, but also opportunities that the Croatian fisheries and aquaculture sector can look forward to exploiting over the next years.