CROATIA: The 28th EU member state – Opportunities of a New Kind

Yes, Croatia finally made it! After many years of trying to prove that Croatia is a “legitimate democracy“, thousands of trips of our negotiators to Brussels and millions of Euros spent on expensive Croatia Airlines tickets – we can proudly say Croatia has been accepted into the troubled EU family.

Is it good for Croats? The answer is “absolutely, yes”! Croatia has to change its standards, it has to grow and open its society to new knowledge. We need more experienced businessmen, managers, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs and, desperately, bold politicians with the vision for a better Croatia.

Will Brussels help us? The answer, again, is “yes“! Our policy making process and law-making will be influenced by several layers of new bureaucratic procedures, but more expertise will be needed in order to comply and get competitive. It is challenging and requires additional effort, but, eventually, this is the only way how to learn and get better – by being exposed, questioned and pushed.

The idea that you can travel within the EU without borders, experience different types of education more easily than before and get a loan from a German or a Dutch bank, rather than exclusively a local one, is really revolutionary. However, there are many worries and challenges ahead.  Certainly, ten years from Monday, 1 July 2013, things will look differently. Some people will like the change and some will praise the good old times, which were nicer with less complexity. Some still miss Yugoslavia and say; „it was all for free back then. Now you have to pay for everything“!

However, the progress is obvious. Croatia has progressed tremendously in the last 20 years despite fighting a bloody war and rebuilding almost half of the country from the scratch.  Now, what’s the post-accession strategy going to be?  What’s the plan for the fishing industry?  What about developing Croatia’s ports Rijeka and Ploce to reach their phenomenal but untapped potential?

Croatia will need to play a European game, now more than ever, forging clever alliances to prosper and not lose its resources to bad policy making and short-sightedness. If analysing a specific policy area for example, the Strategic Investments Act, the government will be monitored by the European Commission to comply with the EU standards and rules.

Many CEOs, especially those from public companies, will have to travel to Brussels and discuss their regulatory issues, projects and decisions with Commission officials.  So, my message to all of us is: this is a wake-up call, people! Go to work! Opportunities of a new kind are here…

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