By Erik Berglof and Peter Sanfey of the EBRD
Croatia’s accession to the European Union on Monday is a triumph – for the country and for the EU. For Zagreb, it is a triumph of perseverance – the completion of a process that began hesitantly in the 1990s and that faced many obstacles.
The European Commission, perhaps mindful of the accusation that some previous entrants were not fully prepared for membership, has subjected Croatia to greater scrutiny than any existing member. For the EU, the accession of Croatia is a demonstration of its “soft power” – its ability to persuade countries to implement difficult and unpopular reforms. Continue reading »
By Gunter Deuber of Raiffeisen Bank International
The 28th member country of the EU will not raise the economic profile of the bloc. For in recent years, the Croatian economy has been one of the weakest in Europe.
But if Croatian policy makers are banking on EU accession creating a “halo-effect” of capital inflows, they will most likely be disappointed. The only way the country will benefit from membership will be through modernisation and structural reforms. Continue reading »
This might have been a triumphant year for Croatia. Less than a decade and half after its war of independence, the country will join the EU in July, symbolically returning to the mainstream European fold after decades of authoritarianism and conflict.
But 2013 could well be yet another year in recession for the troubled Croatian economy. A flash estimate published on Thursday suggested that GDP had shrunk 2.0 per cent in the full year 2012 – and prompting forecasts of a grim 2013. Continue reading »
A grim reminder on Friday of the economic havoc that the eurozone crisis is wreaking in the Balkans.
Croatia’s GDP shrank 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, according to to the state statistics bureau, putting the country well on the way to a 2 per cent contraction for 2012, the fourth year of recession in a row. Hardly the best preparation for joining the EU next July. Continue reading »
“Croatia is clearly not yet ready for membership.” Not the message that Zagreb wanted to hear as it prepares for EU accession, particularly from a figure as senior as the speaker of the German parliament.
The statement by Bundestag speaker Norbert Lammert (pictured) , made in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, comes at an unfortunate time, as Croatia faces growing scepticism over its EU membership bid and a Slovenian threat to block the process altogether. But despite the flak, Croatia still looks set to join the EU on July 1 2013 as planned. Continue reading »
While the Croatian tourism sector is currently celebrating the best of times, for the broader economy the news isn’t getting any better.
The country attracted more visitors than ever before this summer, on target to bring in €7bn by the end of the year. But this was not enough to rescue GDP, which has now contracted for a third consecutive quarter. Continue reading »
By Alen Kovac of Erste Bank
The Fitch rating agency’s decision this month to upgrade its outlook on Croatia to stable and affirm the country’s investment grade status was more than welcome.
But Croatia needs to make further efforts to secure the stabilty of its credit ratings over the next few years. Continue reading »
Croats may not know much about Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most influential founding fathers, but they are certainly getting to know about one of his most famous quotations: “but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
That, at least, is the hope of the Croatian inland revenue, which last week – to the consternation of some, and the delight of many – published lists of 102,000 tax debtors. The list includes construction giants, high-profile business personalities, humble craftsmen and rock stars who, so the authority claims, owe the state some 52bn kuna (€6.9bn) in total. Continue reading »
Croatia’s government on Thursday announced plans for sweeping spending cuts aimed at curbing deficit growth and strengthening weakened credit ratings.
Zoran Milanovic, the new prime minister whose centre-left majority coalition took power last month, proposed cuts of 4.6bn kuna (€630m /$795m) in the 2012 budget, with the austerity spread around evenly to minimise the pain. Continue reading »
As Croatians head to the polls on Sunday, they will do so under a cloud of gloom about what lies ahead for their country’s economy, regardless of the near-certainty of rotation of power.
The centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), headed by the prime minister, Jadranka Kosor, appears all set to crash and burn in the parliamentary elections as voters punish it for the weak economy and spiralling corruption scandals. Continue reading »
With election season heating up, Croatia’s exporters are anxious to make their voices heard. Nine successful manufacturers and exporters formed a club last month calling for tax incentives to boost competitiveness and draw more hard currency into the debt-laden country.
“Our debts are in euros, dollars or whatever,” explained Drazen Matiegka, president of Eurocable Group, a high-tech cable manufacturer, and a founder of Lider Exporters Club. “Exporting is the only way to solve the problem. Or else we could sell islands, sell power utilities. But you can’t sell those again.” Continue reading »