is lacking in substance. A similarly depressing figure concerns the employment rate, which stood at 57% in2011 and which the Government expects to rise only to 59% by 2020, making it the least ambitious targetof all the Member States and condemning Croatia to fall further behind the EU average and much behindthe overal EU target of 75%. The crisis has hit employment hard in Croatia, particularly amongst youngpeople, with Eurstat figures showing an unemployment rate for the 15-24 age group at 51.6% in March2013, doubling in less than four years. In terms of the share of renewable energy in gross final energyconsumption, Croatia is performing better than the EU average at 15.7% in 2011 compared to the EU-27 at13.0%, and may even be on track to meet the 20% target by 2020. In 2010 its primary energy consumptionwas 96.8% of its level in 2005, although this is more a result of the crisis than any effective policies.Croatia does not appear in EU data for greenhouse gas emissions, although EEA figures suggest thatCroatia managed to reduce emissions only by 0.9% between 1990 and 2008. The EEA also suggests thatclimate change is particularly worrying in Croatia since it will mainly affect agriculture, fisheries, hydropower and tourism, sectors which employ about 600,000 people and constitute a quarter of the Croatianeconomy.
Building the case for a new model
There is an opportunity, however small, to seize on Croatia’s EU memberships as a moment to transformthe growth paradigm and to think about the development of a more sustainable and inclusive eco-socialpolicy. It is too easy to forget, in the midst of a long depression, that the ‘golden years’ of growth from2000 to 2007 were largely jobless, unsustainable, import-seeking, and consumption maximising. The crisiswhich followed has had, and continues to have, a severe and structural impact on unemployment,decimation of industrial production and, by implication, further contributing to a view that the most desiredemployer is the state or the local municipal authorities. The challenge is to build a political case for ‘greenobs’, i.e. low-carbon, low-energy, low raw material jobs and jobs which protect and restore eco- systemsand bio diversity and/or minimise the production of waste and pollution. Croatia could seize the opportunityto reward early adopters of green technology within a much more ambitious programme of support for Corporate Social Responsibility and social enterprises. Can the decimations of deindustrialisation beturned into a comparative advantage in a region with perhaps both the most intact, and therefore mostvulnerable, eco-system in wider Europe? Why not become leaders in ecological food production, forestpreservation, electricity production from wind and sunlight and, of course, sustainable tourism? All of this is important, in and of itself, but what is needed more than ever are new kinds of sustainable andredistributive eco-social policies which, in Ian Gough’s words, “can achieve ecologically beneficial andsocially just impacts promoting new patterns of production, consumption and investment, changingproducer and consumer behaviour while improving well-being, and ensuring a fairer distribution of power and resources”. Inequality in Croatia is more dramatic than tends to be shown by raw aggregate figuressuggesting, for example, that the Gini coefficient of income inequality was 0.31 in 2011. More worrying areregional inequalities and demographic changes which suggest that the younger, better educated, populationhas tended to move away from rural areas and move to large cities. Whilst the likely impact of ‘brain drain’out of Croatia proper cannot be forecast with certainty, its impact will probably be less than the decline of rural, isolated, and war affected areas. It is precisely in these areas that a new kind of regeneration, notbased on traditional models of competitiveness and efficiency, can be envisaged.Nothing short of an holistic re-linkage of the economic, the ecological and the social, much as is attemptedin TheGreen New Deal, is needed. This has to combine sustainable production with new forms of taxationand revenue raising, to make possible real and meaningful redistribution plus innovative responses to so-called new risks which render nation-state traditional welfare state solutions sub-optimal: such as climatechange, migration, the oppression of minorities, erosion of meaningful participation, the rise of genderedtransnational care chains, and so on. The 2008 Green Vision for a Social Europe also, rightly, emphasisedthe importance of Services of General Interest and the need to fight against so-called ‘trade creep’ wherethe creation of free markets in services is fuelling the privatisation and commercialisation of essentialservices, including health and education. Croatia needs a political alliance, including reinvigorated socialmovements, which can articulate a set of winnable demands around social and environmental justice,