2013 enlargement of the European Union

Croatian EU accession bid
Status Member state
Opened chapters 33[1]
Closed chapters 33[2]
Website mvep.hr
Statistics
EU averageCroatia
PPP GDP ($M)552,780106,548
PPP per capita ($)40,60025,807
Area (km2)165,04856,594
Population18,583,5984,284,889

The 2013 enlargement of the European Union saw Croatia join the European Union as its 28th member state on 1 July 2013.

The country applied for EU membership in 2003, and the European Commission recommended making it an official candidate in early 2004. Candidate country status was granted to Croatia by the European Council in mid-2004. The entry negotiations, while originally set for March 2005, began in October that year together with the screening process.

The accession process of Croatia was complicated by the insistence of Slovenia, an EU member state, that the two countries' border issues be dealt with prior to Croatia's accession to the EU. Croatian public opinion was generally supportive of the EU accession process, despite occasional spikes in euroscepticism.

Croatia finished accession negotiations on 30 June 2011,[2] and on 9 December 2011, signed the Treaty of Accession. A referendum on EU accession was held in Croatia on 22 January 2012, with 66% of participants voting in favour of joining the Union.[3][4][5][6] The ratification process was concluded on 21 June 2013, and entry into force and accession of Croatia to the EU took place on 1 July 2013.[7]

Accession requirements

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Judicial reform and human rights

Accession requirements included: judicial reform to strengthen the independence, accountability, impartiality, professionalism and efficiency of the judiciary; a crackdown on corruption and organised crime (this resulted in the conviction of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for taking bribes); strengthen the protection of minorities; settle outstanding refugee return issues; improve the protection of human rights.[8]

Co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Croatia had to extradite several of its citizens to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a United Nations body, an issue that was often contentious in domestic politics. Croatia's relations with the ICTY had continually been cited by the EU officials as something that required further improvement. Ratification of the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Croatia had been stalled because of this.

The European Council, after its summit of 20 December 2004, set the following 17 March as the date to start entry negotiations, provided that Croatia continued to co-operate fully with the ICTY. On 16 March 2005, the day before talks were to begin, the EU postponed the commencement of negotiations, because the ICTY prosecution assessed the Croatian efforts to capture the fugitive general Ante Gotovina (indicted by the ICTY for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but at large since 2001) as neither timely nor sufficient.

On 7 December 2005, the Spanish police finally arrested Ante Gotovina with the help of the Croatian government on the Spanish island of Tenerife, located in the Canary Islands. He was brought to The Hague to be tried for war crimes. With the arrest of Ante Gotovina this issue was resolved, and entry negotiations began anew, after the certification of ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that Croatia now fully cooperated with the ICTY.

In April 2011, Croatian generals Gotovina and Markač were given extended prison sentences at the ICTY, which was widely perceived as unjust in the Croatian public. This caused a marked increase in opposition to the accession because, in the past, some countries like the Netherlands,[9] conditioned their support for the Croatia's accession process with the continued Croatian co-operation with the ICTY.

On 16 November 2012, the ICTY Appeals Chamber acquitted generals Gotovina and Markač and ordered their immediate release.[10]

Border disagreements

Croatia has had long-standing border issues with Slovenia, especially over the Piran Bay boundary. Between December 2008 and September–October 2009, Slovenia blocked Croatia's EU accession over these border issues. On 6 June 2010, Slovenia voted to accept the ruling of United Nation arbitrators on the dispute, removing this obstacle.[11]

Croatia has border disputes with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, but these countries are not European Union members and cannot directly block the accession process. In December 2008, Croatia and Montenegro agreed that the outstanding sea border issue between the two countries should be settled before an international court whose decision would be accepted in advance by the parliaments of the two countries.[12]

Land ownership

Free acquisition of real estate by foreigners is a sensitive issue in Croatia. This matter particularly concerns Italians, especially in Istria. While it has some ties with Italy, the events surrounding World War II, when Istria changed hands between the Kingdom of Italy and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, remain pertinent. Numerous Italian politicians expressed their discontent concerning the inability of Italians to purchase land in Croatia, considering it discriminatory treatment and stating that the issue should be resolved as soon as possible.

Croatia subsequently denied any discrimination, and said that Croatian legislation provided for the same treatment of all EU citizens concerning land ownership. In mid-2006, Croatia and Italy came to an agreement allowing Italian citizens to purchase land in Croatia and Croatian citizens to purchase land in Italy. Other EU members had to resolve similar issues before their accession to the EU. Examples of this include Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, and especially Malta.

Shipyard privatisation

Croatia was required to stop subsidising its shipbuilding industry, resulting in privatisations, closures and reduced production capacity.[13][14]

Negotiation progress

Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003, and the European Commission recommended making it an official candidate in early 2004. Candidate country status was granted to Croatia by the European Council (the EU's heads of state and/or government) in mid-2004, but the date for the beginning of entry negotiations, while originally set for March 2005, was put off. In early March 2005, Croatia was formally warned by the EU that its failure to arrest the war crimes suspect Ante Gotovina would jeopardise the country's chances of starting the accession talks, in spite of Croatia insisting it was doing everything it could to find and arrest the fugitive[15] and claiming that Gotovina was no longer in Croatia.[16] In fact, the talks started in October 2005, shortly before Gotovina's arrest in Spain, which occurred in early December that year and was hailed by the EU as an important turning point for the whole region, as it turned "the page from the nationalist past to a European future".[17]

Before the start of negotiations with Croatia, the acquis was divided into 35 chapters, 4 more than the usual 31; the new chapters, previously part of the agricultural policy, are areas expected to be troublesome, as they were with the other applicants. Following the opening of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005, the process of screening 35 acquis chapters with Croatia was completed on 18 October 2006.[18] Negotiations had been restrained for ten months because of a border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia.[19] In September 2009 it was announced that Slovenia would remove restraints on Croatia's negotiations with the EU without prejudice to the international mediation on the border dispute.[20]

Acquis chapterEC assessment at startCurrent situation Screening started Screening completed Chapter frozen Chapter unfrozen Chapter opened Chapter closed
1. Free Movement of GoodsConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-01-162006-02-242008-07-252010-04-19
2. Freedom of Movement For WorkersConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-07-192006-09-112008-06-172009-10-02
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide ServicesConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-11-212005-12-202007-06-262009-12-21
4. Free Movement of CapitalFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-11-252005-12-222008–122009–102009-10-022010-11-05
5. Public ProcurementConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-11-072005-11-282008-12-192010-06-30
6. Company LawFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-212006-07-202008–122009–102007-06-262009-10-02
7. Intellectual Property LawNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-02-062006-03-032007-03-292008-12-19
8. Competition PolicyConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-11-082005-12-022010-06-302011-06-30
9. Financial ServicesConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-03-292006-05-032007-06-262009-11-27
10. Information Society & MediaNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-122006-07-142007-07-262008-12-19
11. Agriculture & Rural DevelopmentConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-12-052006-01-262008–122009–102009-10-022011-04-19
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary PolicyConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-03-092006-04-282008–122009–102009-10-022010-07-27
13. FisheriesFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-02-242006-03-312008–122010–022010-02-192011-06-06
14. Transport PolicyFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-262006-09-282008-04-212010-11-05
15. EnergyFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-05-152006-06-162008-04-212009-11-27
16. TaxationConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-062006-07-122008–122009–102009-10-022010-06-30
17. Economic & Monetary PolicyNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-02-162006-03-232006-12-212008-12-19
18. StatisticsNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-192006-07-182008–122009–102007-06-262009-10-02
19. Social Policy & EmploymentConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-02-082006-03-222008-06-172009-12-21
20. Enterprise & Industrial PolicyNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-03-272006-05-052006-12-212008-07-25
21. Trans-European NetworksNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-302006-09-292008–122009–102007-12-192009-10-02
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural InstrumentsConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-09-112006-10-102008–122009–102009-10-022011-04-19
23. Judiciary & Fundamental RightsConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-09-062006-10-132010-06-302011-06-30
24. Justice, Freedom & SecurityConsiderable efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-01-232006-02-152008–122009–102009-10-022010-12-22
25. Science & ResearchNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-10-202005-11-142006-06-122006-06-12
26. Education & CultureNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2005-10-262005-11-162006-12-112006-12-11
27. EnvironmentTotally incompatible with acquisGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-04-032006-06-022008–122010–022010-02-192010-12-22
28. Consumer & Health ProtectionFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-06-082006-07-112007-10-122009-11-27
29. Customs UnionFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-01-312006-03-142008–122009–102006-12-212009-10-02
30. External RelationsNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-07-102006-09-132007-10-122008-10-30
31. Foreign, Security & Defence PolicyNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-09-142006-10-062008–122010–042010-06-302010-12-22
32. Financial ControlFurther efforts neededGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-05-182006-06-302007-06-262010-07-27
33. Financial & Budgetary ProvisionsNo major difficulties expectedGenerally aligned with the acquis 2006-09-062006-10-042007-12-192011-06-30
34. InstitutionsNothing to adopt 2010-11-052010-11-05
35. Other IssuesNothing to adopt 2011-06-302011-06-30
Progress33 out of 33[21]33 out of 33[21]13 out of 3313 out of 1335 out of 3535 out of 35[22]

[23]

Timeline

Date Event
1998-03-04Ministry of European Integration formed within the Croatian Government.[24]
2001-10-29Croatia signs the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).
2003-02-21Formal application for membership submitted.
2003-10-09Croatia submits answers to the Commission's Questionnaire.
2004-04-20European Commission replies to the answers with a positive opinion (Avis).
2004-06-18Croatia receives official candidate status.
2004-12-20European Council sets the date for the entry negotiations to begin 2005-03-17.
2005-02-01SAA comes into force.
2005-03-16Negotiations postponed.
2005-10-04Beginning of negotiations (shortly after midnight in Luxembourg).
2005-10-20Beginning of the screening process.
2006-06-121 chapter is opened & closed: Science & Research.
2006-06-282 chapters are opened: Competition Policy and Customs Union.
2006-07-201 chapter is opened: Social Policy & Employment.
2006-12-111 chapter is opened & closed: Education & Culture.
2007-03-291 chapter is opened: Intellectual Property Law.
2007-06-266 chapters are opened: Company Law, Financial Control, Financial Services, Information Society & Media, Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services, and Statistics.
2007-10-122 chapters are opened: Consumer & Health Protection and External Relations.
2007-12-202 chapters are opened: Trans-European Networks and Financial & Budgetary Provisions.
2008-04-212 chapters are opened: Energy and Transport Policy.
2008-06-172 chapters are opened: Freedom of Movement For Workers and Social Policy & Employment.
2008-07-251 chapter is opened: Free Movement of Goods. 1 chapter is closed: Enterprise & Industrial Policy.
2008-10-301 chapter is closed: External Relations.
2008-12-191 chapter is opened: Public Procurement. 3 chapters are closed: Economic & Monetary Policy, Information Society & Media, and Intellectual Property Law.
2009-04-23EU calls off talks with Croatia due to the latter having a border dispute with Slovenia over the Bay of Piran.
2009-09-11Slovenia agrees on an immediate ending of its blockade of Croatia's EU accession & further negotiation of the Gulf of Piran border dispute between the 2 countries.
2009-10-02Croatia closed 5 chapters & opened 6. Chapters that were closed: Company Law, Customs Union, Freedom of Movement of Workers, Statistics, and Trans-European Networks.
2009-11-273 chapters are closed: Consumer & Health Protection, Energy, and Financial Services.
2009-12-212 chapters are closed: Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services and Social Policy & Employment.
2010-02-192 chapters are opened: Environment & Fisheries.
2010-04-191 chapter is closed: Free Movement of Goods.
2010-06-302 chapters are closed: Taxation and Public Procurement. 3 chapters are opened: Foreign, Security & Defence Policy, Judiciary & Fundamental Rights, and Competition Policy.
2010-07-272 chapters are closed: Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy and Financial Control.
2010-11-053 chapters are closed: Institutions, Transport Policy and Free Movement of Capital.
2010-12-223 chapters are closed: 24. Justice, Freedom & Security, 27. Environment and 31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy.
2011-04-192 chapters are closed: 11. Agriculture & Rural Development, 22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments[25]
2011-06-061 chapter is closed: 13. Fisheries
2011-06-10Commission recommends closing of the negotiations and sets 2013-07-01 as target entry date
2011-06-24European Council calls for finishing negotiations by the end of June and signing of the Treaty of Accession by the end of 2011
2011-06-30End of accession negotiations. Final 4 chapters are closed: 8. Competition Policy, 23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights, 33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions and 35. Other Issues.
2011-10-12Commission adopts a favourable opinion on Croatia's accession to the EU
2011-12-01European Parliament approves Croatia's entry to the EU.[26]
2011-12-09Croatia and the 27 Member States of the European Union sign the EU accession treaty.[27][28]
2012-01-22EU accession referendum held in Croatia, 66.25% voted in favour, 33.13% against. About 47% of eligible voters took part in the referendum.[4][5][6]
2012-02-01Parliament of Slovakia unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[29]
2012-02-13National Assembly of Hungary ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[30]
2012-02-17Parliament of Bulgaria ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[31]
2012-03-01Parliament of Italy ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[32][33][34]
2012-03-05Parliament of Malta unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[35][36]
2012-03-09Croatian Parliament unanimously ratifies Croatia's EU accession treaty.[37]
2012-03-22Parliament of Latvia unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[38]
2012-04-26Parliament of Lithuania ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[39]
2012-05-03Parliament of Cyprus unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[40]
2012-06-08Parliament of the Czech Republic ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2012-06-26Parliament of Romania unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2012-06-27Oireachtas of Ireland ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2012-07-04Parliament of Austria ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2012-09-12Parliament of Estonia unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[41]
2012-09-14Sejm of Poland ratifies accession treaty.[42]
2012-09-21Assembly of the Republic of Portugal ratifies accession treaty.[43]
2012-10-10Chambers of Deputies of Luxembourg unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[44]
2012-10-24Cortes Generales of Spain unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[45]
2012-10-30Parliament of Greece ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[46]
2012-11-07The Swedish Riksdag ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[47]
2012-12-18Parliament of Finland ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[48]
2013-01-15Senate of France unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[49]
2013-01-17National Assembly of France unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2013-01-24Chamber of Representatives of Belgium ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2013-01-31Parliament of the United Kingdom ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[50]
2013-02-05House of Representatives of the Netherlands passes the approval law for the Croatian accession treaty.
2013-03-07Croatian and Slovenian governments reach an agreement on Ljubljanska Banka. The Slovenian government starts the process of ratification.[51]
2013-04-02Parliament of Slovenia unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.
2013-04-14Croatian European Parliament election
2013-04-16Senate of the Netherlands ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[52]
2013-05-02Parliament of Denmark unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[53]
2013-05-16Bundestag of Germany ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[54]
2013-06-07Bundesrat of Germany unanimously ratifies Croatian accession treaty.[55]
2013-06-21The ratification process was completed upon the depositing of the German ratification instruments with the Government of Italy.[28]
2013-07-01Croatia joins the EU.

Date of accession

Originally Croatia had been aiming for a 2007 accession date, which would have broken Slovakia's record of 2.5 years of negotiations to complete the process. However, negotiations turned out to be tougher than expected. On 5 November 2008, the European Commission's annual progress report on Croatia's candidacy was published. Olli Rehn stated that the country should aim to complete accession negotiations by the end of 2009, with membership following by 2011 at the latest.[56] In 2009 it was also reported that Iceland may be fast-tracked into the European Union,[57] and Rehn said that "the EU prefers two countries joining at the same time rather than individually. If Iceland applies shortly and the negotiations are rapid, Croatia and Iceland could join the EU in parallel". The last non-acquis hurdle to membership, the maritime border dispute with Slovenia, was overcome in November 2009.

Croatia ultimately finished its accession negotiations on 30 June 2011,[58] and signed the Treaty of Accession 2011 in Brussels on 9 December 2011; followed by approval of it by a national referendum on 22 January 2012 and completing their ratification process on 4 April 2012. Entry into force and accession of Croatia to the EU took place on 1 July 2013, as all 27 EU members and Croatia have ratified the treaty before this date.[59][60]

The accession took place at a time of economic difficulty with Croatia in a fifth year of recession with 21% unemployment, and amid the European sovereign-debt crisis.[61]

As Croatia joined the EU, it exited the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).

Remaining areas of inclusion

Croatia became a member on 1 July 2013, but some areas of cooperation in the European Union will apply to Croatia at a later date. These are:

Free movement of persons and visa policy

Pre-accession entry arrangements for Croatian nationals travelling to EU member states

Before accession to the European Union, Croatia was categorised as an Annex II country, which meant that Croatian citizens could stay in the Schengen Area without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Croatian citizens were also able to stay without a visa in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania for up to 90 days in each country, as well as in the United Kingdom for up to 6 months.

The general rule was that non-EU citizens had to use a passport to enter EU member states. However, there was an exception to the Schengen Agreement rules for Croatian citizens. Based on the pre-Schengen bilateral agreements between Croatia and neighbouring EU countries (Italy, Hungary and Slovenia), Croatian citizens were allowed to cross the border with only a Croatian national identity card (a passport was not obligatory).[62] Many people living near the border crossed it several times a day (some work across the border, or own land on the other side of the border), especially on the border with Slovenia, which was unmarked for centuries as Croatia and Slovenia were both part of the Habsburg Empire (1527–1918) and Yugoslavia (1918–1991). Prior to Croatia's accession to the EU on 1 July 2013, an interim solution, which received permission from the European Commission, was found: every Croatian citizen was allowed to cross the Schengen border into Hungary, Italy or Slovenia with an ID card and a special border card that was issued by Croatian police at border exit control. The police authorities of Hungary, Italy or Slovenia would then stamp the special border card both on entry and exit. Croatian citizens, however, were not allowed to enter any other Schengen Agreement countries without a valid passport, although they were allowed to travel between Hungary, Italy and Slovenia.

These arrangements were discontinued on 1 July 2013 when Croatia became an EU member state. Since then, Croatian citizens have been able to enter any EU member state using only an ID card.

Post-accession access to free movement in other EU member states

On 1 July 2013, Croatian nationals became European Union citizens and acquired the right to move and reside freely in other EU member states, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. On the same day, 14 EU member states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) allowed Croatian nationals to work without restrictions in their country. However, 13 other EU member states imposed transitional restrictions on Croatian nationals wishing to access their labour markets.[63] Annex V of the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union allows member states to apply national measures regulating Croatian nationals’ access to their labour markets for a period of up to five years, and in case of serious disturbance to their labour markets or the threat thereof, and after notifying the Commission, for a further two years (i.e. up to a maximum of seven years in total).

Croatian nationals who on 1 July 2013 had already resided in an EU member state for a continuous period of at least 5 years acquired the right of permanent residence (meaning that they could work without any restrictions in their host EU member state), as long as during their continuous residence of 5 years they were a worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person, student or family member accompanying or joining an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen.[64]

On 1 July 2013, non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who were family members of a Croatian national and accompanying or joining him/her also acquired the right to move and reside freely in other EU member states.

Establishment of rights of EU nationals of Croatia to work in another EU member state[63]
Another EU member state Croatia
Bulgaria1 July 2013
Romania1 July 2013
Finland1 July 2013
Sweden1 July 2013
Estonia1 July 2013
Latvia1 July 2013
Lithuania1 July 2013
Poland1 July 2013
Czech Republic1 July 2013
Slovakia1 July 2013
Portugal1 July 2013
Denmark1 July 2013
Hungary1 July 2013
Ireland1 July 2013
France1 July 2015
Germany1 July 2015[65]
Spain1 July 2015[66]
Belgium1 July 2015[67]
Luxembourg1 July 2015[68]
Cyprus1 July 2015
Greece1 July 2015
Italy1 July 2015
Malta26 January 2018[69]
Slovenia1 July 2018[70]
Austria1 July 2020
United Kingdom1 July 2018
Netherlands1 July 2018[71]

Visa policy for third-country nationals

In the run up to accession to the European Union, Croatia aligned its visa policy with that of the European Union. As a result of the new visa regime, some third-country nationals (such as Russian and Turkish nationals) who were previously temporarily exempt from having to obtain a visa to visit Croatia were now subject to a visa requirement. However, to mitigate the effect of the re-imposition of a visa regime on tourist numbers, the Croatian government has introduced a 'facilitated entry of aliens' procedure, exempting travellers who have a Schengen visa or residence permit from having to obtain an additional Croatian visa to visit Croatia until 31 December 2013.[72] In addition, the Croatian government has extended the working hours and capacity of its foreign missions in countries such as Russia and Ukraine to ensure that applications for Croatian visas are processed more efficiently.[73]

Visa requirements for Croatian nationals visiting third countries

Upon Croatia's accession to the European Union on 1 July 2013, several countries and territories outside the European Union aligned the visa requirements imposed on Croatian citizens with those imposed on other EU citizens. For example, on 1 July 2013, Hong Kong SAR extended the visa-free period of stay for Croatian citizens from 14 days to 90 days in line with the visa-free period of stay granted to other EU citizens,[74] whilst New Zealand introduced a 90-day visa exemption for Croatian citizens.[75] It is likely that these countries and territories amended their visa policy for Croatian citizens because of the European Union's visa reciprocity mechanism. However, other countries such as Barbados,[76] Brunei,[77] and the United States[78] have not amended their visa policies to harmonise their treatment of Croatian citizens and other EU citizens.

Membership of the Schengen Area

During June 2011 Croatia began with implementation of the projects and reforms required to join the Schengen Area by 2015.[79] By joining the Schengen Area, border checks will be eliminated at the land border with Hungary and Slovenia, as well as at airports and ports for flights and ships to/from Schengen member states, thus facilitating the freer movement of persons between Croatia and the rest of the Schengen Area.

Membership of the European Economic Area

Croatia's accession to the EU obliges them to apply for membership in the European Economic Area (EEA).[80] The Croatian government submitted their application on 13 September 2012,[81] and membership negotiations started 15 March 2013 with the aim to enlarge both the EU and the EEA on the same date, 1 July 2013.[82] However, this was not achieved.[83][84] On 11 April 2014, the EU and its member states (including Croatia), Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein signed an agreement concerning the accession of Croatia to the EEA. It is yet to be ratified, but is provisionally applied with regards to Croatia. As of June 2017, the agreement has been ratified by 17 out of 32 parties. [85]

Public opinion

Croatian public opinion was divided on EU accession. Opinion polling for the EU referendum showed the population was mostly in favour of joining. Public support ranged from a high of 80% to lows of 26–38%.[86] Political analyst Višeslav Raos cited the economic problems within the EU among the factors: "[Croatians] know that the European Union is not a remedy to all economic and social problems. So the EU itself is in a sort of crisis, and that reflects on Croatia's accession."[86] The government announced an information campaign to reverse the drop in support.[86]

A referendum was held in Croatia on 22 January 2012 on joining the European Union, and the result was 66% approval to join, though the turnout was low at 43.51%.[3][4][5][6][87]

See also

References

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  2. 1 2 "EU closes accession negotiations with Croatia". European Commission. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
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  4. 1 2 3 Independent Newspapers Online (23 December 2011). "Croatia sets date for EU referendum". Iol.co.za. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
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  21. 1 2 Excluding Chapters 34 (Institutions) and 35 (Other Issues) since these are not legislation chapters.
  22. In this case Chapters 34 and 35 are taken into account as also if they had not been provisionally opened, they have to be closed the same
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