Croatian PM Orešković Supports EU Deal with UK

By 20 February 2016

Croatian PM on EU deal with UK.

Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković said in Brussels that the agreement with Great Britain was a great day for the European Union, because the EU without Britain would not be the EU. "Today is a great day for the European Union. I think that everybody was clear that the European Union without the United Kingdom would not be the European Union and I think this is a success for all", said Prime Minister Orešković after the summit, reports Index.hr and Vecernji List on February 20, 2016.

EU leaders on Friday night reached an agreement with Britain after two days of intense negotiations. It includes a package of reforms requested by the United Kingdom before the referendum which will enable British citizens to say whether they want to stay or leave the European Union. "I wish Prime Minister David Cameron a lot of success. He now needs to organize his referendum and I hope that the United Kingdom will vote to stay in the EU", said Orešković.

Asked whether the part of the agreement relating to social security benefits for workers in other EU member states will mean that Croatian workers would have less rights, including regarding the child allowance, Prime Minister Orešković said that the law will be the same for everybody in the European Union.

However, the agreement reached at the summit could theoretically mean that Croatian workers in the UK or even another EU member states would have less rights for the next 10 or 20 years. The mechanism for the denial of workers' benefits during the first four years could be used by other countries as well, not just Great Britain. And the so-called indexing of the child benefits, which means the reduction from a higher standard to a lower standard of the country from which the foreign worker came and where their children live, will also be an option for other countries as well, some of which have already announced they would use that right.

"When it comes to the UK, we still do not have the same rights as nationals of other EU member states. The law will eventually be the same for all of us who are in the EU. This is a compromise. Great Britain had demanded certain changes and the challenge was great – to stay in or to get out of the EU. I think it is in everyone's interest, however, including Croatia, for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU. Prime Minister Cameron has received a platform which he can present to the citizens of Great Britain. It is a victory of all, since we are all part of the EU and we will all have the same laws", concluded Orešković.

Asked if he used his bilateral meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to talk about the issue of energy security, Orešković said they had discussed investments in which both Croatia and Hungary may have common interests, such as the railway line between Rijeka and Hungarian border, LNG terminal and other projects in the energy sector.