Engineering Croatia's future
Ivan Vrdoljak is drawing on his experiences as an engineer and entrepreneur in his current role as Croatia’s Minister of Economy. He explains his plan for moving his country forward.
I believe that the role of government is to provide a free market and the stability that an entrepreneur requires.
– Ivan Vrdoljak, Minister of Economy, Croatia
On July 1, Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union. Croatian Minister of Economy, Ivan Vrdoljak, believes this heralds a new era of opportunity.
“Membership of the EU, together with membership of NATO, gives us long term stability and security,” he says. “This is stability that we have long needed to strengthen the future of our political system, the future of our business sector and our investment climate as a whole.
There are many benefits coming his country’s way as a result of EU membership, including:
- Health care benefits for Croatians in other EU countries
- Free movement of capital by businesses between Croatia and other EU countries and the ability to bid for public contracts across the EU
- Huge injections of regional development funding in areas such as research and innovation
According to Vrdoljak, Croatia’s presence in the EU offers two key advantages from Brussels’ perspective:
- Access to the coast of the Adriatic Sea, which is logistically and strategically very important for the region
- Croatia will now serve as a stabilizing influence on the region
“With Croatia in the EU, we can help our neighbors join in the future. We are already helping Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia,” he says.
Getting Croatia working
Vrdoljak says unemployment is a high priority. “We are developing a new strategic industry policy that will focus resources and effort on six to eight sectors of our economy, all of which have the potential to deliver sustainable jobs and growth in the future.”
“We will be choosing which sectors to support at the end of the year and then will be rolling out programs to support them in terms of innovation, technology development and competitiveness. I think young people will then find it easier to find jobs in these sectors.”
As an entrepreneur himself, Vrdoljak is speaking from a position of considerable experience and insight. Many countries have introduced a range of programs and policy initiatives to help boost entrepreneurship but Vrdoljak had no such support when establishing his own company.
“When someone has an idea and the energy to turn it into a new business, I believe that the role of government is to provide a free market and the stability that an entrepreneur requires: stability of taxation, stability of energy prices and stability of labor costs.”
“In the next five years, Croatia should be the most stable country in our part of Europe and our strategic location will help make us logistical center of the region,” Vrdoljak says.
“Our EU membership means there will be a much healthier investment climate across our country. Today, all investors — current and potential — now understand that our rule of law means their investments will be protected and supported by the government. Ours is a country open for business.”