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Croatia: the 28th member of the European Union

On Monday 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th Member State of the European Union. Croatia is a small country, with a population of almost 4.5 million, bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. It has over 1200 islands and islets, of which only 48 are permanently inhabited. The currency is currently the Kuna, but Croatia will adopt the Euro once it fulfills criteria in areas such as price stability, public finances and exchange rate stability.

Croatia’s accession to the EU will entail many institutional and structural changes. For example, one of the most visible effects will be the end of customs controls at internal EU borders. This will make travelling to other EU countries much smoother. Croatian products will be traded freely from one part of the Union to another, with some restrictions for certain pharmaceutical products and online sales. Customs duties will be abolished at internal borders and a uniform system for taxing imports will be put in place. In addition to this, all restrictions on movement of capital, both within the EU and between Members States and Third Countries will be removed. Despite this, police control will stay and will only disappear once Croatia joins the Schengen Area.

Croatians now enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship, such as health and pension services, including healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU Member State, through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

As for social policies, from the date of accession, the EU will reinforce its investments in the field of employment, lifelong learning and social inclusion in Croatia. Moreover, the new Member State will access the EU structural and cohesion funds, to be used for investments in key areas like research and innovation, sustainable job creation, as well as measures to diversify agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture.

Under the Accession Treaty, Croatia has committed to allow an increase of greenhouse gas emissions in non-ETS sectors not exceeding 11% (compared to 2005) by 2020. Furthermore, Croatia ratified a renewable energy target of 20.0% till 2020.