On gaining independence in 1992, Croatia was recognised as a sovereign state by the international community. Since then, GIZ has been working in the country on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
At present, we have 12 staff working in Croatia, including five experts deployed by CIM. The Federal Republic of Germany is the largest bilateral donor in the field of international cooperation with Croatia.
Accession negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Croatia officially began in October 2005. For negotiations to be opened, Croatia was obliged to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Croatia was also required to implement sweeping reforms in order to meet the accession criteria. Having met all the criteria and benchmarks, Croatia was able to close negotiations in late June 2011. Fulfilment of Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and Chapter 8 (Competition Policy) proved to be especially complex. Until its accession, Croatia will undergo monitoring, with a particular focus on Chapter 23, in order to ensure its continued compliance with the commitments it has undertaken to fulfil.
The accession treaty was signed in Brussels in December 2011. After ratification by all the EU Member States and a referendum in Croatia, the country will be ready to join the EU on 1 July 2013, making it the EU’s 28th member state. Croatia became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 2009.
Croatia’s weak point is its economy. Its substantial trade deficit is caused by its lack of competitiveness. EU accession will open up new opportunities for the Croatian economy, enabling it, for example, to access resources from EU Structural Funds and so improve its economic performance. Integration into the EU is also likely to have a positive effect on the private sector’s willingness to invest in Croatia. Tourism is still the most important economic sector and is making a major contribution to reducing the trade deficit.
Other challenges for Croatia include its high level of foreign debt, its budget deficit and the need for a comprehensive reform of public administration.
As the level of bilateral cooperation with Croatia decreases, attention is now switching to regional cooperation in South-East Europe.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides financial resources from the Open Regional Funds to support legal reform, foreign trade promotion, modernisation of municipal services, energy efficiency and renewable energies in this region.
Another important mechanism for international cooperation is the EU’s Twinning Programme. For many years, experts from German public authorities have been seconded to Croatia in order to support the pre-accession process.
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