On 1 July 2013, Croatia will officially become the 28th member state of the European Union. But did Croatia make the right choice when it signed up to the club? Or should it have waited until the final shape of the EU was a bit clearer? Who knows whether Croatia has joined a future federation of nation-states, a nascent post-national federation, a budding supranational organisation ‘plus’, or a soon-to-be smoking hole in the ground? On the other hand, perhaps it was better for Croatia to take a seat at the table now, whilst it can still shape the final structure of the EU from within.
Last year, we asked our readers whether the eurozone crisis had made EU membership less attractive for candidate countries. Recently, we had the chance to put some of your comments from that post to Zoran Milanović, the Prime Minister of Croatia, when he spoke at a European Movement event in Brussels.
We began with a comment from Nikolai from Ukraine, who wondered whether “What was attractive about the EU may no longer be attractive once the structural changes that are deemed necessary have occurred.” Should Croatia have waited a bit longer to see precisely what the EU’s “structural changes” will entail?
Next, we took a comment from Ziro, who believes that the EU referendum campaign in Croatia was too focused on generalities, and there wasn’t enough specific information available about Croatia’s membership terms.
The problem in Croatia was not in the pro-European campaign, but in its design. Our politicians treated us as if we were illiterate ignoramuses; as if we didn’t have TV; as if we had never stepped out of Croatia, never seen a living European. It was offensive and lacked information. Luckily, we have enough information about the EU, but we don’t have sufficient information about Croatia’s accession contracts our leaders have agreed upon while negotiating.
I’m not surprised by the result, because our people are poor and hungry, and also our politicians said that they won’t get their pensions and pay if they vote against the EU.
Finally, we had a suggestion sent in from Christos, arguing that the low turnout during the Croatian referendum was part of a broader trend across Europe, and politicians should do more to engage voters with European issues.
I am not one bit surprised about the turn-out, it is [consistently] low in every European election, not just in Croatia but in every EU state… What we should be doing is to engage the public [better] in our national and European politics.
What do YOU think? Did Croatia make the right choice when it signed up for EU membership? Should it rather have waited until the final structure of the EU was a bit clearer? Or is it better for Croatia to now take a seat at the table and help shape the EU from within? And was enough information made available during the referendum campaign? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.