Vienna, 16 September 2013 – "Croatia's involvement in the internal market of the EU is opening up new opportunities for trade and investment. In Croatia, we have gained a partner in the EU with whom we are enjoying particularly tight historical, cultural and economic relations. Austria is the biggest foreign investor in Croatia with more than 7 billion euros. Some 700 Austrian companies are already active in the Croatian market, and we intend to strengthen this position even further. At the same time, accession to the EU brings in a fresh breeze that the Croatian economy needs for the return to a growth course", Austrian State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said at a high-level business conference organised by the Vienna Economic Forum.
"Croatia has worked long and hard for its accession to the EU. EU membership is a token of the acknowledgement of the reforms carried out over the past few years and an important step in the Union's enlargement process. Austria has supported Croatia since the country achieved independence and on through the years of reconstruction following the Balkan War and during European integration. In all this, Austria has acted as a friend and a partner.
Croatia had to deal with stricter accession requirements than any other candidates previously, which on the positive balance means that it was also much better prepared for accession. We passed on our expertise in the judicial field, financial administration, environment, energy and agriculture to Croatia in the framework of Twinning projects. 39 projects and an overall volume of 34 million euros make Austria the most active Twinning partner of Croatia. The close contacts on the administrative level are proving advantageous now that we are partners in the EU", the State Secretary said.
"Accession to the EU is, of course, not the ultimate goal. Improving competitiveness and strengthening legal security, for example, are ongoing tasks – not only for Croatia but for all of us", Lopatka concluded.
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