As Youngest EU Member, Croatia Needs More Time to Catch Up

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ZAGREB, November 29, 2018 – For Croatia and other Friends of Cohesion countries, it is important that the new EU multiannual budget for 2021-2027 provides sufficient funding to continue developing thanks to their membership in the Union, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Bratislava on Thursday, adding also that it mustn’t be forgotten that Croatia is the youngest EU member and that it needs more time to catch up with other countries.

The Friends of Cohesion, an informal group of EU member states that are opposed to cohesion funds being reduced in the new multiannual budget, met in Bratislava on Thursday to once again ask that funding not be reduced for poorer countries that need to be assisted in coming closer to more developed and wealthier countries.

The new multiannual budget foresees a 6% cut in cohesion funds and a reduction of funding for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Croatia estimates that it would be entitled to 5.6% less money from cohesion funds.

The group was united in their stance and adopted a joint declaration setting out their priorities. “Today’s meeting of the Friends of Cohesion is an important message ahead of the European Council. Cohesion policy and CAP mean a lot to our countries for reducing inequalities in society, for a better and more balanced regional development, and for catching up with old EU member states,” Plenković said after the meeting.

The joint declaration comes two weeks ahead of the EU summit in Brussels that will discuss the new multiannual EU budget. “The messages in the declaration are good for all the countries here today and for Croatia in particular,” Plenković said.

The declaration notes that the cohesion policy and common agricultural policy have to remain at the 2014-2020 budget level. Sufficient funding is required for real convergence, growth, jobs, investments and competitiveness within the Union and the Union on the global market, and at the same time for the fight against inequalities within and between member states.

Apart from needing to catch up with old and wealthier EU member states, Croatia also needs to catch up new members. “The thing that I have in particular underscored is that Croatia, compared to other members of the Cohesion group, is the youngest EU member state with only five years of membership. We need at least two financial perspectives to catch up with other members in Central and Eastern Europe,” Plenković said.

“It is important that the new budget framework provides sufficient funding for new members to continue developing thanks to their membership of the European Union,” he added.

“The European budget has to secure sufficient funding for security and defence, the fight against terrorism, climate change, sustainable transport, research and development, digitisation, migration, and to strengthen Europe’s external activities,” Plenković concluded.

As far as negotiations on the new financial perspective are concerned, Plenković is sceptical that they can be completed by the European parliamentary election next year.

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