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GIZ is active in Croatia on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the framework of the Open Regional Funds for South-East Europe.

Croatia entered the EU accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) in October 2005. The country had to implement extensive reforms to meet the criteria for accession. The support for the implementation of the reforms with regard to Croatia's accession to the EU was the main focus of the cooperation.

The Treaty of Accession was signed in Brussels in December 2011. Following the ratification process in all EU member states and the public referendum in Croatia, the country joined the EU as the 28th member on 1 July, 2013. Since April 2009, Croatia is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Croatia’s weak point is the economy. The high trade deficit is due to insufficient competitiveness. The EU accession has opened up further opportunities for the Croatian economy, as for example, access to the EU Structural Funds to increase overall economic performance. The integration into the EU is expected to have a positive impact in the medium term on the private sector's willingness to invest. Tourism continues to be the most important industry and contributes significantly to the reduction of the trade deficit.

Further challenges for Croatia are the high foreign debt and the existing budget deficit.

Even after the end of the bilateral cooperation with Croatia, the country's involvement in regional cooperation in South-East Europe remains important. Croatia’s experiences in the accession negotiations are of great relevance to the countries with the prospect of accession. Thanks to the acquired expertise, Croatia can support the accession process of other countries in South-East Europe.

Through the instrument of the Open Regional Funds for South Eastern Europe (ORF), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports the promotion of EU integration through regional cooperation, especially in the areas of legal reform, foreign trade, the modernisation of municipal services as well as energy efficiency and biodiversity. Due to the regional connectedness and the linguistic and historical similarities with the countries of South-East Europe, it is of particular advantage for them to make use of the gained experience. GIZ employs Croatian experts in seminars or workshops to support the reform processes with regard to EU approchement in SEE. Although the GIZ project office in Zagreb, which has supported the regional cooperation in the SEE countries, will be closed by the end of 2017, the commitment of Croatia as an EU member state to continue to support regional cooperation between the Western Balkans countries with the prospect of accession still remains.