9 August 2013 | Reading 14 mins.

Croatia’s road to joining the EU

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Edoardo de Silva
Consultant and office manager for Camera di Commercio ItalAfrica Centrale

Edoardo de Silva, Consultant and office manager for Camera di Commercio ItalAfrica Centrale

After 10 years of negotiations, Croatia becomes the second former-Yugoslav state (after Slovenia) to join the European Union on 1 July 2013. In a people’s referendum on 22 January 2012, an overwhelming 66.27% of Croats supported accession to the EU; then on 9 March 2012, the Croatian Parliament unanimously (136/0) ratified the Treaty for Accession to the European Union. One of the most enthusiastic countries to join the EU, Croatia has a lot to gain from the single European market and could be a very positive example for further EU enlargements in the Balkan.

The territory comprising Croatia today was first settled by Slavic speaking populations between the 6-7th centuries. An independent kingdom in the early Middle Ages, Croatia entered into a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary in 1102. In later times, Croatia was a frontier region divided between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires. During the Hungarian Revolution in 1848, although part of Hungary, the Ban (ruler) of Croatia sided with Austria against the Hungarian rebels. After the First World War and the dissolution of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire it became part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

During the Second World War, the Axis invasion in 1941 caused the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the creation of the Independent State of Croatia, a satellite state ruled by the right-wing, ultra-catholic and xenophobic Ustase Movement. After the defeat of the Axis and the victory of Marshall Tito’s (himself half- Croatian) communist partisan movement, Croatia became part of newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After Tito’s death in 1980, nationalism and separatist tendencies reemerged again and led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

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