Croatia in the EU: The Flatline?

Posted on 23. October 2013

by Milan Balaban

milan-balaban2Finally, the Balkans is re-joining Europe. Recently, Croatia has officially become a part of EU. It is an interesting time for the Balkans. Many changes are about to ensue. What does that all mean for us? There are two main viewpoints from which I would like to take a look. Firstly, there is the macro aspect and all those intriguing daily activities when it comes to trading and politics. Secondly, the micro aspect, or rather a point of view of an individual like me.

Since I like zooming out, I will start from the micro aspect. Up until few months ago I could easily cross the border with my national ID if I wanted to get some coffee in Zagreb. Nowadays, not really. Even though I have my passport is it still a matter of (in)convenience. Even though I do have to admit I love those border stamps which always make me feel like Indiana Jones who has traveled more than I actually have. Nevertheless, that kind of self-delusion or guilty pleasure is harmless and fun. What is not so fun is the behind-the-curtains-mentality. People from the Balkans have had a rather jarring past which is still visible in the shameless “torture” of certain people crossing the border. It can be like that everywhere though. However, the fact is that things have changed. Yet, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Well, except for tourism.

I fly a lot and Croatia is my fastest way to the airport, no matter if I fly from Zagreb or Belgrade. It is still the same though. For a foreign individual like me Croatia is still more or less the same.

Zooming out, there are quite a few changes. Tourists from Bosnia and Herzegovina who would go for a day or two at the seaside are becoming less frequent due to the heightened control and starker conditions and prices. That can be a double edge sword for Croatian tourism and the results will be conclusive only after a few years. Everything seems to be more controlled and more bureaucratized. While I am a firm believer that what gets measured gets controlled, I also believe that some things are too big to be controlled and can spiral easy out of the same restrains we are trying to put on. I wrote more about the “titanic” effect of EU in one of my previous articles.

While foreign citizens are still having the same privileges and problems when it comes to accessing Croatia, the fact is that things are changing on a macro level. Croatia is becoming a part of the Titanic. Many people I know were against Croatia joining the EU. However, if that is wrong or right only time will show. How will Croatian economy react in long term to the EU? It is yet impossible to extrapolate, however soon we will have the answer.