Croatian MEP Tonino Picula was appointed chair of the Working Group on the Western Balkans in the Committee on Foreign Policy in the European Parliament. In an interview for Slobodna Dalmacija, he explains why it is important for Croatia to continue working on EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, and what will his recommendations for enlargement be.
"Croatia has the longest external border in the Union. This requires high costs for surveillance and security, and it makes us more exposed recently because we are on migration routes. Migrations are a complex phenomenon that we surely cannot solve without cooperation with all our neighbors, be they in the EU or outside of EU. For this reason, I insist that Croatia will not be able to fully reap the full benefits of membership until it has EU member states on all its borders.
Economic reasons are also clear and stem from our traditional structure of exchange: it will be easier for Croatia to trade without any barriers with the countries of the region when we are part of the single market. These are markets where we still make up the bigest share of our export earnings today. And let us not forget tghe benefits of open borders for tourism, our most important economic sector. The political dimension of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is certainly a topic on which Croatia can be affirmed if it actively participates in articulating the rules of the game in the process of great importance to the future of the bloc itself", Picula said.
Read the whole interview here.