THE EFFECTS OF EU MEMBERSHIP WILL BE BETTER NOTICED IN 2023, ON THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF MEMBERSHIP
Twenty-two years after the international recognition, thirteen years after the first contractual relations with the European Union and eight years after the beginning of the membership negotiations, Croatia has achieved one of its key objectives on 1 July 2013. As a country with significant war and postwar traumatic experiences, faced with far-reaching membership criteria after the 2007 enlargement of the EU, Croatia has gradually changed over the years of negotiations, primarily for its citizens. It is good to remember that Croatia is the first country to apply for EU membership in the 21st century. When Croatia became a full member of the European Union, it was the eighth enlargement in the history of the EU and only second one in which only one country entered the membership. No country has applied for membership in the EU with the introduction of a single currency, soon to be raised to 27 members, but also with a serious crisis in the eurozone, as well as turbulent political unrest and wartime conflicts in the immediate neighborhood. In addition, Croatia was the first country to be admitted to EU membership after the Lisbon Treaty entry into force.
No doubt, the European Union has brought a lot of benefits to Croatia. It is easier for Croatian companies to access the common market as well as free trade agreements with the EU. The interest of companies from and outside the EU for co-operation with Croatia has increased and access to new knowledge and technologies, as well as structural and cohesion funds of the EU, is enabled. A number of positive changes have been introduced in the legislative framework and have enabled the freedom of movement and business of our citizens in different EU Member States. What Croatia has to show on a common large market is that it is competitive, and that is athe same time European Union's advantage and deficit because it promotes competitiveness, but also reduces our "space under the sun". But we are not the only country that has had a problem with adaptation and reforms. What we missed is the opportunity to take tools from other countries who made it. Also, Croatia faced difficulties with the use of EU funds and, unfortunately, it is left behind compared the rate of EU utilization. Freedom of movement, goods, services, capital and people is the foundation of European integration. Without this, the single market can not function. But as we have the increasing mobility of people, we can not say the same thing for capital.
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