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       EU Policies 02/07/2013
Croatia: new EU member state and new commissioner for consumer policy

Croatia has become the 28th member state of the European Union on Monday 1st of July 2013:

At midnight, the customs’ signs have been removed from the symbolic crossing border with Slovenia, marking the historical integration of Croatia as the 28th European member state.  At the same time a sign bearing the logo of the EU has been installed in the far east of the country, on the border with Serbia, a country with which Brussels gave its green light to the opening of negotiations for his accession to the European Union.

Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and the European Commission recommended officialising its candidature in early 2004. Croatia signed the Treaty of Accession to become the bloc's 28th member on 9th December 2011. The ratification process was concluded on 21 June 2013 and the entry into force and accession of Croatia to the EU has taken place on 1 July 2013.

The benefits for both Croatia and the rest of Europe are being discussed. Although Croatia is not yet joining the single currency or the Schengen zone, the entry of this new member expands the EU's internal market, along with new opportunities for EU businesses and customers. Consequently, the area where EU standards will be applied is as well expanded, in energy, transport or environmental protection. Moreover, it might strengthen stability in the entire Western Balkans region and reshape relations with candidates for enlargement, especially with Serbia.

However, the accession takes place at a challenging time of economic torments, as Croatia began his fifth year of recession and the unemployment has reached 21%.  Although public opinion has been generally supportive of the EU accession process, the on-going European sovereign-debt crisis and Croatian economic difficulties are both conditions that could jeopardize European credibility and stability.

Neven Mimica appointed as the 28th Commissioner, focusing on consumer policy: 

After the Council of the European Union formally confirmed the European Parliament's decision, Mimica took over EU Consumer Policy on July 1. He will hold the post until the end of the mandate of the current European Commission on 31th October 2014. The Health and Consumers general directorate is to be split into two: Tonio Borg will hold the post of health commissioner while Mimica will take over consumer policy.

During a hearing organised in June by the Internal Market and Public Health Committee at the European Parliament, Neven Mimica developed his roadmap concerning his up-coming commitment on consumer portfolio: the proposals on product safety, market surveillance and access to a basic bank account through, removing barriers to online shopping, ensuring safe products and informing consumers of their rights will be the focus of the croatian commissioner. 

In order to ensure consumer protection, Mr Mimica pledged to strengthen the cooperation between the 11 commissioners that have portfolios related to consumers. 

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