Plenković Warns EU Loss of Population Existential Problem

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, December 31, 2019 – The European Union has to face the existential problem of population decline affecting several member countries, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković warned in an interview with the Financial Times.

In the interview published on Monday on the Financial Times’ web site, Plenković said that Croatia and other countries were grappling with a shrinking population because of low birth rates and emigration to more prosperous regions.

The population of 10 of the 28 EU member states grew smaller in 2018, including Croatia, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania.

“This is a structural, almost an existential problem for some nations, and we are not the only one,” Plenković told the Financial Times.

“We are losing a city of 15,000, 16,000 people per year just by the fact that we have 15,000, 16,000 more deaths than births. For a country of around 4m, that is a lot, right? Plus we have freedom of movement now,” added Plenković.

The EU’s newest member is the fifth-fastest shrinking country in the world, and is set to lose 17 per cent of its 2017 population by 2050, according to the UN, the FT reported.

Lower birth rates are one cause, but so is emigration. Between 2013, when Croatia joined the EU, and 2017, approximately 5 per cent of the country’s population moved to other member states, the FT says.

Croatia wants to put demographics at the heart of its agenda for the EU during its six-month presidency of the bloc starting in January. Zagreb also successfully pushed for its EU commissioner, Dubravka Šuica, to receive a portfolio dealing with democracy and demography.

Plenković wants Brussels to examine which countries are most affected and what policies and measures have been implemented to boost birth rates.

“We really did a lot in terms of demographic politics, tax, childcare, amounts of money that we give to parents for motherhood, etc — we are doing as much as we can. But I think we should do something at the European level,” he said.

Here Croatia is about to step into a highly politically charged area. The loss of the UK as a contributor to the EU budget is contributing towards a tight settlement in the EU’s next multi-annual budget.

Eastern European states are anxious to defend the cohesion budget as they seek funding for left-behind regions, even as western nations insist that more EU cash should be devoted to modern priorities including research and climate change.

“The union budget is a big budget — it is a seven-year budget and it has to really find ways to be forthcoming or provide answers to various challenges,” said Plenković.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.


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