Why Croatia voted for the EU

In case you hadn’t heard, last Sunday, Croatians voted to join the EU which isn’t actually going to happen until July 1, 2013, but still you need to get these referendums out of the way. As a citizen, I could have voted in this. As a citizen living not in Croatia, I missed the registration date by one day though…

There was a bit of “will they? won’t they?” put out in the news, but in reality, it was going to be inevitable. Not because the EU is one giant party right now, but for a number of reasons, which from my viewpoint, are some of the following:

  • As much as anyone wants to say otherwise, Croatia is dinky. At 4.5 million people, it’s nearly half the size of the San Francisco Bay Area. You just can’t remain independent of something like the EU when you’re that size. Germany could pull this off, but not Croatia.
  • As has been the case lately, this New York Times article poorly suggested that they will be facing a “flood of immigrants”. Really? In a country with over 20% unemployment? Does the author of the story know about a country called Spain that had immigrants back before its economy went in the toilet? People flooding in from other EU countries is not going to make someone vote No.
  • Then, also from that same article, there was the fear of economic undercutting by “cheap Italian eggs”. There may be some of that, but the bigger issue right now if the undercutting of European grocery items by cheap Chinese ones. Also on that front, all the cheap Argentine wines are thrashing Croatia’s winemakers because they’re just too expensive for most Croats. All of this is an instance where being the EU might actually help if the union takes a more protectionist stance these days.
  • Croatia needs better access to EU money. There are several infrastructure projects to complete and even though it means taking on loans, they need to finish them to increase productivity.
  • Also needing help is EU support in fighting crime. Friends have told me that Zagreb is getting to be like the Wild West and given how close it is to the borders of Slovenia and Hungary, they’ll need them as allies to try and ratchet that back down, in theory.
  • Most anyone young in Croatia would have voted yes to the referendum as ironically, they want to leave the country and try to find work abroad. While selling ice cream to lobster-ed beach tourists in the summer has its merits, it’s not a long term career path.
  • Lastly, if they didn’t vote Yes now, they would have had the referendum put before them again in six or so months. So basically, there was no choice but Yes.