Croatia is prepared to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and join the Schengen area, stressed Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (EB), at a joint press conference with Andrej Plenkovic’s Croatian Prime Minister on Friday.
In his words, he was impressed by how quickly Croatia could improve its financial performance since joining 2013 in the European Union (EU).
“GDP has grown, the economy has evolved, and it is shown that the Croats are a diligent people and are well-governed by the country,” he said. He added that he would propose to the committee that Croatia could join the Schengen area as soon as possible.
He stressed that they would do their best to make Zagreb successful under the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which Croatia will adopt on 1 January 2020. He regretted that he would no longer be the President of the EC.
The Croatian Prime Minister agreed that the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries should be maintained. He said he would soon start accession negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania.
Juncker was last in Croatia in 2004. The chairman of the committee came to Dubrovnik on the first day of his sighting, where he looked at two important projects. The Dubrovnik Airport and the Peljesac Bridge are both being built with the support of the European Union. EUR 155 million (HUF 49.2 billion) and EUR 357 million (HUF 113 billion) were previously approved by the European Commission.
Plenkovic spoke about the fact that the politician in Brussels had a concrete impression that European aid had changed Croatia in the right direction.
The Croatian Prime Minister expressed the hope that the EB would make a positive proposal until the end of its mandate for Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area. He stressed that Zagreb had done a huge job in this area and had already spent EUR 240 million (HUF 76.2 billion) on strengthening and developing its borders. The goal of Zagreb is for the country to join the Schengen area and the ERM under the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the European Central Bank to decide on the latter.
After the press conference, Pelenkovic, together with Juncker, travels to Brussels, where EU heads of government representing the three largest European party families, the EPP, the Social Democrats (S&D) and the Liberals (ALDE), the Latvian, the Spanish, the Portuguese, Dutch and Belgian Prime Ministers – negotiate with the next President of the European Commission.