“Since our referendum campaign, a strange sentiment has grown among many political actors, almost an anti-European attitude, a propensity to look in other directions. The government, and especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, needs to make an extra effort, because Croatia’s accession to the EU has been the aspiration of almost all relevant political actors”, said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković during a cabinet meeting held in April 2018. He was right. Euroscepticism is on the rise in the last country to have joined the Union, in 2013.
Croatian citizens voted to join the EU on a referendum held on 22 January 2012. Slightely less than 1,3 milion citizens (66,27 percent) voted in favor of accession, while almost 630.000 citizens (33.13 percent) voted against. However, the turnout was pretty low, only 43,51 percent.
As far as the attitudes of the Croatian citizens towards the European Union is concerned, the Eurobarometer survey published in May 2012 showed that 38 percent of Croatians thought that the accession to the EU would be a good thing for Croatia, 28 percent thought the opposite, while 34 percent thought that the entry to the EU wouldn’t make any difference.
A recent Eurobarometer survey shows that the euroscepticism is on the rise in Croatia. Only 31 percent of Croatians have a positive image of the EU, the third lowest percentage, after Czech Republic (30 percent) and Greece (23 percent). In Croatia the proportion of respondants with a positive image of the EU has declined by 5 percentage points, while at EU level this proportion has increased by 5 percentage points. 18 percent of Croatian citizens have a negative attitude towards the EU, and 50 percent have a neutral attitude, which is the highest percentage among all member states (38 percent at EU level).
While the majority of EU citizens are most attached to their country (92 percent), and then to their city or village (89 percent), among the Croatian respondents 93 percent are most attached to their city or village, and 84 percent to their country. More than half of Europeans feel attached to the EU (55 percent), while in Croatia the majority of respondents (51 percent) don’t feel attached to the EU.
As far as the trust in the EU institutions is concerned, only 39 percent of Croatian trust the EU, while 51 percent tend not to trust the EU. At EU level, 41 percent of citizens trust the EU; while 48 don’t. Curiously, over the last year trust in the EU has decreased by six percentage points at EU level, while in Croatia trust in the EU increased by one percentage point.