Prime Minister Dr Ivo Sanader
Trg Sv Marka 2
Dear Prime Minister,
Ten questions to ask before you give away your
It was good to sit with you at dinner on
my recent visit to Croatia. Your country is doing
well and clearly has great potential. However, I do
worry about your headlong rush into the EU. Let me
share with you ten questions every Croatian should
ask and be able to answer before you hand over your
country and its governance to Brussels:
Why would you want to give control
of your country away? After all, you haven’t
had it very long. Of course, you’ll be told that
belonging to the EU in no way means giving away your
country’s sovereignty. Sovereignty is a country’s
constitutional independence, its exclusive political
authority. It cannot be shared or pooled. But
consider this: once in the EU, your country will be
subject to a higher political authority – Brussels.
The EU will overrule your government’s policies on
foreign affairs, security, justice and much much
more. It is planning its own constitution – which
will allow the EU to sign treaties without
consulting your government.
That sounds uncomfortably like relinquishing your
country’s authority. You can’t give it up and keep
it at the same time. Being a sovereign nation
is like being a virgin – either you are one or
Do you want more rules and regulations?
The EU has a strong desire to “harmonise” in order
to iron out the differences between member states.
The way it does this is by devising regulations.
There are currently hundreds of thousands of them,
covering areas as diverse as pollution and how you
hire and fire employees, with more than 5,000 new
ones coming out of Brussels every year. It’s not
always easy for countries to meet these demands and
for small businesses it’s sometimes impossible. If
you think you’re regulated enough already, you ain’t
seen nothing yet!
Would you be happy joining a corrupt organisation?
There’s no doubt that the EU is rotten to the core.
In May 2004 Britain’s National Audit Office (NAO)
reported 10,000 cases of EU fraud in 2002 costing
£700 million up from 5,482 cases costing £386
million in 2001 ie a doubling of fraud in just one
year. But figures like this are the tip of the
iceberg – they only relate to matters which national
governments know about and are prepared to divulge.
A more damning estimate is that around five per cent
of the Commission’s budget - or almost £4 billion –
goes missing every year. That’s your money, by the
way. Disgusted? You should be. But you can’t do
anything about it. You can’t even vote the culprits
out of office.
Do you think barriers to trade are a good thing?
Well, you ought to, because that’s what you’re going
to get by joining the EU. There will of course be
advantages when it comes to trading with other
member nations, but what about all those other
countries, the US, for example? Croatia must be open
to the world, not just its neighbours. You were
locked into Tito’s socialism for a long time; you do
not need Brussels’ version of the same error.
Is high unemployment your idea of fun?
If you enjoy the prospect of low
growth, rigid labour markets, increasingly intrusive
regulation, high and rising taxes, and a high level
of trade protection in some sectors, then the EU is
for you. Oh, and for good measure the result is the
high unemployment which
Europe has experienced for more than a decade. It’s
not a coincidence that the two most prosperous
European nations, Norway and Switzerland, are not in
How do you feel about
entering the most inefficient system of agricultural
support ever devised?
The Common Agricultural Policy was a noble idea:
subsidise farmers to keep farm wages high and stop
people moving from country areas to the city in
search of better-paid jobs. But it has failed and
it’s the ordinary citizens who’ve suffered –they’re
paying more for food and more in taxes as a result.
And, guess what? Rural areas are still in decline.
Do you mind giving up democracy?
Right now, you can express your views on what
happens in your country by voting. But for the EU to
have a political democracy would mean having a
European people, European public opinion and a
chance to vote for what happens in Europe. But
Europe does not have a common people, nor does it
have common bonds of allegiance and obligation,
which means that citizens would be unlikely to
accept majority decisions which they believe
discriminate against them or unfairly favour others.
That is precisely why Europe’s political elites and
bureaucrats will decide on the really important
European issues, which will of course affect what
happens in your own country. It’s simpler that way,
even if the price is democracy.
How do you fancy being a very small fish in a very
big European pond?
Under the EU constitution, more voting power will go
to countries with bigger populations and there will
be more majority decisions, rather than decisions
based on unanimity. This means that your elected
representatives will have very little say in what
happens in Europe. And, as we all know, the French
and the Germans stick together on many important
issues. They are the big fish in the pond of Europe.
Your country, I regret to say, stands to be one of
Are you happy to give up your currency?
A simple sentimental attachment to your own currency
might seem a good enough reason not to give it up,
but there are better ones. If your country adopts
the Euro, it loses control of its own economy. The
European Central Bank will make decisions about
interest rates. No longer will your own financial
experts and politicians be able decide what to do
with your money. Instead, your economy will embark
on an impossible journey: it will leave the country
and go north nearly 1,000 kilometres to Frankfurt,
but be dragged rapidly southwards at the same time.
Your economy will suffer because it’s impossible to
find one interest rate to suit all countries in the
Euro. If you need more proof, bear in mind that the
best-performing EU countries are those which have
not adopted the Euro.
Does it bother you that, after all you have been
through, you will be entering a union that has
uncomfortable parallels with the former Yugoslavia?
In recent times, you have become the citizen of an
independent and democratic state. Before that, you
were forced to be part of a group of countries which
threw together people of different languages and
cultures. The only thing many of the peoples in this
federation had in common was that all this was
imposed on you by an unrepresentative political
elite. A bit like the EU really.
I look forward to hearing your answers.
In the meantime I wish you all the very best as you
wrestle with so many difficult issues.
Institute of Economic Affairs
John Blundell, Director General of the Institute of
Economic Affairs, UK, serves as Director of
Fairbridge, a Director of the International Policy
Network, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the
Board of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, and a
Board member of the Institute for Humane Studies at
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, the Institute
for Economic Studies (Europe) in Paris, France and
Vice President of the Mont Pélerin Society.
Blundell joined the Adriatic Institute for Public
Policy's Founding Leadership Board, Croatia's first
independent free market think tank. John Blundell
delivered the opening keynote address, "Waging the
War of Ideas" at the First International Leaders
Summit, Nov. 5, 2004 in Zagreb, Croatia