Croatia’s First Year In The EU–Thumbs Up Or Down?
The jury is still out on that question. For expats it’s made things a little easier; for locals arguably a little harder, but according to a BBC News report a couple of days ago (see links at the end of this posting), the olive oil business is doing ok out of it and exports, in general, have improved.
Like many new entrants some Croatians expected EU entry to be a panacea for a marked improvement in the standard of living, but long gone are the days when the EU was flush with enough cash to really indulge its new members. In fact Ireland was probably the last country to reap significant financial benefits of membership and we all know that cash injection did not last very long despite the considerable boom it created at the time. Interesting then to look back at the very first posting on this blog - Croatia Online - A Parable - back in January 2006, comparing the two countries at a time when the EU really did appear to be the land of milk and honey! And also a reminder of how long Croatia has been waiting to join its ranks.
As you will read in the BBC News article, a small olive oil company reports that it is thriving from the reduction in red tape on exports – great news that Croatian olive oil, amongst the best we have ever tasted, can now be appreciated by a wider audience. However it’s difficult to see EU benefits if you’re living in a county still deep in recession and with high unemployment. And it looks like there may be more pain to come as large, state owned employers, such as the shipyards, Croatia Airlines and ACI Marinas, go through the often traumatic process of privatisation.
What is hopefully still cheering the locals up, and a subject on which the BBC News report is remarkably silent, is the ever growing tourism industry. Visitors to Croatia’s coastline could be forgiven for presuming that the (tourism) economy is very healthy indeed!