Croatia's EU accession: socio-economic assessment of farm households and policy recommendations
Croatia is very close to meeting the requirements necessary for becoming a member of the European Union (EU). On February 6, 2008, the European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that accession negotiations with Croatia are moving ahead well. As in all new member states (NMS), the agricultural sector and food processing chain are core issues within the negotiation process. Successful negotiation requires intimate knowledge of the issue at hand, including the socio-economic situation and the fears and strategies of the stakeholders, particularly small-scale farmers. This report attempts to close some of these knowledge gaps by reviewing Croatia’s rural development dynamics and farm structures, as well as agricultural and rural policies. Based on an empirical research component, the report provides unique, detailed insights into the ongoing structural change in two typical rural regions of Croatia. Special focus will be placed on socio-economic developments within farm households. Farmers’ views, perceptions, and strategies are challenged by a competitiveness analysis of Croatia’s farming sector, particularly in dairy farming. The opportunities and challenges for Croatia’s rural regions are discussed vis-à-vis lessons learnt from the Slovenian accession experience. This executive summary provides a review of the major findings and policy recommendations. The recommendations follow those of the OECD in placing emphasis on regions rather than sectors and investments rather than subsidies in rural development policy. The recommendations refer to two important policy fields: (1) policies to develop, structurally adjust and diversify agriculture, and (2) territorial approaches for policies to create and secure employment (the wider rural economy). Main findings The findings for Croatia are derived from the analysis of secondary sector data as well as micro-economic data from approximately 140 farm households surveyed in 2007. Furthermore, a domestic resource costs (DR
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