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11 yrs of EU membership have improved Croatia, says PM

EU membership has improved Croatia, which is rapidly catching up with member states that have been in the EU longer, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of EU membership, he said the quality of life has increased, wages, pensions, and GDP have grown, and the economy and institutions have been strengthened.

“We have gone from 52% of the EU average level of development to 76%,” he said at a reception for state officials and foreign diplomats in Government House.

With a GDP growth of 3.9% in the first quarter of this year, Croatia is second only to Malta, and with a projected growth of 3% to 3.5% by the end of the year, it would grow three to four times more than the EU and euro area average, Plenkovic said. “This means catching up with member states like Hungary, which have been in the Union for 20 years.”

At the same time, he warned of the enormous security, economic, social, and energy challenges facing the EU and the world, particularly the war in Ukraine, the Hamas-Israel conflict, and migration.

“The consequences of the major migrant crisis of 2015 and 2016 are still visible today, for example in the recent European elections, and will continue to be felt. Therefore, as politically responsible people, we must resolve these potential sources of discontent among European nations in the best, safest, and most appropriate way that will maintain our way of life, economy, and security.”

The goal remains to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Plenkovic said, adding that Croatia could achieve all its significant foreign policy ambitions by the spring of 2026.