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A two-year transitional period will apply to Croatian employees

When Croatia joins the EU, the same employment rules will continue to apply to Croatian citizens, as Slovenia will introduce a two-year transitional period to protect its labour market.

Even after Croatia has joined the EU, its citizens will be able to acquire employment or work only on the basis of the relevant national employment legislation provisions which apply to third-country citizens. This means that in order to work or have a job in the Republic of Slovenia, citizens of the Republic of Croatia will still generally need a work permit, except in cases defined by law.


When deciding to introduce a transitional period for Croatian citizens when Croatia joins the EU, the Government mainly considered the current labour market situation, forecasts of demand for a suitable workforce, forecasts of economic trends in Slovenia and the situation in the Croatian labour market. The transitional period is a temporary measure which will apply for two years, i.e. from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2015.


At the end of April, 121,332 unemployed persons were registered at the Employment Service of Slovenia, which is a 11.2% increase over last year. According to the economic forecasts of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development, conditions in the labour market will be even more difficult in 2013, and no improvement is expected in 2014 due to the delayed adjustment to economic activity. The increase in unemployment in 2013 will be greater than in 2012, as further job losses are expected in the private sector due to lower economic activity. In 2013, there will about 124,000 unemployed persons on average, with an increase in both registered (13.4%) and ILO unemployment rates (10%). According to an IMAD forecast, employment will further decrease in 2014, whereas the average number of unemployed people will remain the same as this year.


Accordingly, the employment of third-country citizens is also decreasing, with the exception of Croatian citizens, whose numbers in Slovenia increased both in relative and absolute terms last year. Moreover, according to data provided by the Croatian employment services, over 100,000 unemployed persons live in areas bordering Slovenia. As of 3 April 2013, 364,898 unemployed persons were registered in Croatia, with the registered unemployment rate being 21.9% (II/2013).


Given the geographical, cultural and linguistic similarities between the countries, as well as the established network of informal and familial relationships, equalising the status of Croatian and Slovenian employed persons or job seekers would negatively affect the labour market situation and the unemployment rate.


In 2012, the highest share of work permits went to citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (6,671 or 32.5%), followed by Croatian citizens (5,490 or 26.8%), citizens of Serbia (3,371 or 16.2%), Kosovo (1,519 or 7.4%) and Macedonia (948 or 4.6%). The situation was similar in 2011, while the number of permits issued increased by 11 per cent.


In 2011 and 2012, the greatest number of work permits was issued for the construction sector (3,287), the processing industry (2,374), the transport and storage sector (1,831) and the hospitality industry (1,217).


When Slovenia joined the EU, some countries introduced transitional periods for Slovenia, although this was a period of growth and these countries were in a much better economic situation than is Slovenia today. The neighbouring country of Austria protected its national interests to the greatest extent possible, applying the full seven-year transitional period (up to 30 April 2011).