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Croatia votes on whether to join EU

Croatia votes on whether to join EU
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Croatia will decide if it wants to be in or out of the EU on Sunday in a referendum to join the club.

Polls point to a ‘Yes’, with around 55 to 60 percent of those questioned saying they would vote in favour. Even so, support appears to have ebbed recently.

Analysts have said that is less to do with the eurozone’s debt crisis but more to do with losing sovereignty and scant details from leaders on what EU membership will mean.

‘No’ campaigner Roko Šikić from the group ‘I love Croatia’ agrees: “Senior officials in this country speak to us via the TV. They don’t put forward any arguments. Instead they simply say, ‘I am the president, I promise you that this is good for our country.’”

Like much of the rest of Europe, Croatia has had a hard time economically over the last two years. Deep in recession, national debt remains high though living standards are still low compared to countries in the EU.

Some feel membership will change that. One woman in Zagreb said: “I think that Croatia could gain a lot from EU membership. For example, if we look at Poland, it’s taken full advantage of the benefits of being inside the EU.’‘

The Roman Catholic church has given the ‘Yes’ camp a major boost, advising believers to support membership. But not everyone is on message.

“I think there’s been too much talk about how it would be great and how everything will be lovely and nice for everyone once we join. Things won’t be much better,’‘ one man said.

If the referendum passes, Croatia will be the second ex-Yugoslav republic to join the EU, after Slovenia in 2004.