Multi-Speed Europe: Croatia among Non-Core Members?

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In a new, multi-speed Europe, Croatia would not be among the core countries.

Croatia has struggled for years to enter the European Union, but now it could be left outside of its core. After the parliamentary elections in Germany on 24 September, France is expected to put forward concrete proposals on EU reforms after Brexit: some member states will be more integrated, and some will stay on the margins, reports Jutarnji List on September 4, 2017.

Some say that multi-speed Europe already exists, given that some countries are in the eurozone and Schengen, while others are not. And where is Croatia?

Croatia does not have the euro, it is not a member of the Schengen Area, and the policies advocated by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović have made Croatia more closely aligned with Eurosceptic countries from the edge of the Union than with Germany and France, which are the main axis of the EU. Has Croatia pushed itself to the EU’s margins?

“I have criticised President’s Three Seas Initiative which is pushing us towards the east. Because of the stupid links with the countries with are ruled by anti-Brussels governments, we have failed to align ourselves with natural allies like Germany, Italy and Austria,” says Ivan Jakovčić, Croatia’s Member of the European Parliament. “We act as if we do not understand what is happening in the European Union.”

“I do not understand why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who was a great member of the European Parliament, is now avoiding all initiatives that would link Croatia with the founding countries of the European Union instead of linking it with American anti-Russian initiatives. I do not understand it,” said Jakovčić.

Croatia has to start a thorough debate of where it wants to be in the future of Europe, say former foreign ministers Miro Kovač and Tonino Picula. “The Parliament should discuss the role of our country in the European Union. This debate should be the driver of a wider public dialogue in the Croatian society on the contribution of Croatia to European unity,” says Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy Miro Kovač (HDZ).

“Based on our interests, we should decide which of the future formats within the EU Croatia should belong to. This format certainly includes membership in the Schengen Area, and it should provide for lasting peace, freedom, security and prosperity for Croatia. And that, among other things, requires an appropriate engagement in the field of defence, both within NATO and within the European Union,” said Kovač.

For Croatia, this is a particularly dramatic moment, warns Member of European Parliament Tonino Picula (SDP). Croatia is at crossroads, where the differences between the north and south, the east and the west meet. Economically, Croatia is in the south, as one of the least developed members of the European Union, while politically Croatia is in the middle.

The differences have obviously been present all the time, they were just concealed. “Within Croatia itself, we have an attempt now to be part of the Visegrad circle to which we have never belonged. I do not think it is time to emphasise the political affiliation with this circle because it only contributes to the culture of conflict within the EU,” said Picula.

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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