• Rank: 30 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 43
  • HEALTH 20

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Country of net emigration with <1% non-EU citizens
  • In  the last two decades, regional immigration, mainly from other former Yugoslav republics, replaced the flows of refugees and displaced persons into Croatia, following the break-up of Yugoslavia
  • Due to economic downturn, employment rates decreased significantly as did labour migration into shipbuilding and construction industries, which traditionally enjoy the largest number of migrant workers

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

As part of its preparation for EU accession, Croatia harmonised its Aliens’ Act and Asylum Act with the EU acquis in 2013, and started a significant policy and administrative reform. The Croatian government adopted a strategic document, establishing the migration policy priorities of the Republic of Croatia for 2013 – 2015, as well as the “Action Plan on the removal of obstacles to the exercise of particular rights in the area of the integration of foreigners 2013-2015”.

Conclusions and recommendations

Newcomers to HR face barely halfway favourable policies for their integration. With an overall MIPEX score of 43/100, it ranks 30th out of 38 countries, alongside other ‘new’ immigration countries in Southeast Europe (e.g. BG, GR, HU, RO, SI, Western Balkans). Croatia’s policies that best promote integration are in areas of European law. Nevertheless, these legal conditions can be undermined by authorities’ rather discretionary procedures, a problem across Central and Eastern Europe. Future policies and funds need to address the areas missing in its current integration strategies: work-related language courses, access to vocational training and study grants, targeted education support for children beyond language learning, health entitlements/access and a migrant health plan, discrimination against non-EU citizens and political participation (e.g. voting rights, support and consultative bodies for immigrant leaders).

Policy Recommendations from Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies

  • Increase access to vocational training for non-EU citizens, including through access to study grants for permanent residents and family migrants
  • Guarantee all pupils' access to intercultural education throughout curricula by developing a systematic national educational framework
  • Increase political participation of non-EU citizens by extending local voting rights to permanent residents
  • Guarantee equal healthcare entitlements for all categories of migrants, including undocumented migrants
  • For permanent residence and naturalisation, make language requirements more attainable for both low- and high-educated non-native speakers


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Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Many non-EU citizens seem to be disadvantaged on HR's difficult labour market, without the same opportunities for education, training, study grants and public sector jobs as HR citizens

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Very rough estimates from 2011/2 suggest that around one in two non-EU citizens in HR are not in employment, education or training.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Non-EU citizens' opportunities on the HR labour market are similar to the average European country and slightly more favourable than in most Central European countries. However, they have limited access to general or targeted support to find the right job.

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Long-term residents and family migrants have equal access to the labour market in HR as in most MIPEX countries
  • Some temporary resident workers could spend years trapped in a job below their qualification because they cannot change jobs and sectors (see instead IT, PT, ES) and cannot immediately open their own business (see recent openings in GR, HU, PL)
  • HR nationality often required for vacancies in public sector, unlike in 15 countries (e.g. CZ, PT, ES)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Non-EU citizens who want to improve their position on the labour market have less access to general support than in most MIPEX countries
  • Generally equal access to recognition procedures for foreign qualifications (see box)
  • HR one of only 5 countries (AU, IE, IS, TU) where non-EU citizens are not guaranteed equal access to vocational training
  • Long-term residents and family migrants are not guaranteed equal access to study grants they need, unlike in 27 countries (e.g. GR/IT/PT/ES, LV, SK)
  • Non-EU migrant workers do not have immediate access to public employment offices, unlike in 20 countries (e.g. Western Europe, GR, PL, RO)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Migrants' education and training opportunities are also limited because hardly any targeted support is available in HR, as in most Central and Southeast European countries
  • Only ad hoc information campaigns about workers' rights and an information centre for foreign qualifications (see more targeted support/advise centres AT, CZ, DE, PT)
  • Public employment offices better trained on migrants' needs and mentors/coaches available in more established countries of immigration (e.g. AT, DE, PT)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Once employed, all migrant workers are entitled to the same working conditions, social security, and access to trade unions, as in a number of leading countries.
  • Weaker access to housing benefits in HR than in 21 countries

Policy Box

In 2004, HR cancelled the recognition procedure because certain foreign qualifications did not have a HR equivalent. But now the Agency for Science and Higher Education has a mandate to verify non-EU citizens' diplomas, either through the HR ENIC/NARIC Office (one in every European country) or though professional bodies. June 2014 Amendments on Regulated Professions and Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications clarified that migrant workers wanting to work in regulated professions are obliged to notify the specified professional bodies, which are also clearly obliged to receive applications, following the Ombudswoman's findings on the lack of recognitions by the Chambers of Nurses and Medical Doctors. The amendments also introduced the exceptional option for competent bodies to request an 'adjustment period' for applicants without enough experience or the same training/activities.

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Whether non-EU citizen adults are accessing vocational training in practice is unknown, while very rough estimates suggest that hardly any unemployed non-EU citizens received unemployment benefits in 2011/2. These numbers were also low in other Southeast European countries (e.g. CY, GR, SI).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • Low overall employment rate (≤60%) & negative GDP in HR and most of Southern and Southeast Europe 
  • Some of the most rigid employment protection legislation, as in most of Southern European countries (GR/IT/SI/ES/PT) 
  • Only 1/4 of recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits
  • Large numbers coming with some exposure to the language 

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

The long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay) are on average just as likely to have a job as non-immigrant HR citizens if they are high-educated, but slightly less likely if they are low-educated. The case is the opposite in most European countries, where employment rates are generally similar for low-educated immigrants and non-immigrants  (e.g. CY, GR, SI) but lower for high-educated immigrants. The employment gaps are generally similar for immigrant men vs. women in HR as across Southern and Central Europe. Among the low-educated, these non-EU workers are just as likely to experience in-work poverty as HR workers. High-educated non-EU workers, particularly women, are slightly more likely to work in jobs below their level of qualifications, which is a common problem across Europe, especially Southern Europe. As a result, low-educated non-EU citizens may benefit most from general & targeted support to find a jobs, while high-educated non-EU citizens may need greater support to find the right qualified job (e.g. get recognition of foreign qualifications, greater training or new degree in HR).

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Little known about separated & reuniting families among non-EU citizens in HR: Policies are slightly favourable for family reunion, mostly up to EU standards, but can be too discretionary in practice

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

The number of non-EU citizens in HR who are separated from their spouses abroad is unknown. The estimates range between 5-7% of all non-EU citizens in other European countries, rising to around 12% in SI and 34% in CY.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Reuniting families enjoy a slightly favourable right to family reunion because HR largely follows the EU standards and the positive approaches taken in other Southern and Central European countries. A non-EU sponsor and nuclear family have to meet the same minimum requirements as other HR families in order to enjoy the same rights, although the procedure itself can be discretionary in HR as in other Central European countries.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Most temporary permits can immediately sponsor their spouse/partner and minor children, as in most MIPEX countries
  • But adult children or parents are only allowed for special personal or humanitarian reasons (see clearer legal conditions in 25 countries, e.g. CZ, IT, PT, ES, SI)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Non-EU sponsors must have a basic legal income and pay an average fee, as in the majority of MIPEX countries.

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Eligible applicants are still insecure about their families’ future due to discretionary elements in the procedure
  • Authorities may reject their application or withdraw their permit on wide discretionary grounds
  • The law does not require authorities to take into account the family’s individual circumstances and positive links with HR, which is below the EU legal standards
  • Reunited families are not guaranteed as secure a residence as their sponsor (see 19 countries, e.g. CZ, PL, RO, SK, Southern Europe)

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Positively, reunited families generally benefit from the same rights as their sponsors like in most MIPEX countries
  • Access to autonomous residence after 4 years
  • 3 years still required in case sponsor dies or divorces and no guarantees in case of emotional/physical abuse (see 11 other MIPEX countries e.g. BE, IT/PT/ES)

Policy Box

Many Central European countries create few legal obstacles for non-EU citizens to apply for family reunion, but maintain very discretionary procedures with many grounds for authorities to reject them. PL does not follow this trend. While the length and cost of the procedure may be burden-some, there are few additional grounds for rejecting their application or withdrawing their status (as in CA, IT, ES). AT, NL provide entitlements in cases of death, divorce, separation and violence, while several countries (e.g. FR, PT, ES, SE, NO, US) are working on clearer residence autonomy for all families after a few years.

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

The number of reuniting non-EU citizens is still unknown in HR because the numbers are not yet published. HR reported that 2154 permits were issued in 2013 to families joining either EU or non-EU citizens. The number is similar to other small new countries of immigration in the EU.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Most long-settled in HR (5+ years' stay)
  • Sizeable share of humanitarian and family migrants likely to settle long-term 
  • Comparatively low employment and income levels for non-EU citizens in HR
  • Many from developed/neighbouring countries and thus less likely to reunite in HR and SI

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Family reunion may be relatively common in HR as in other Central European countries with relatively inclusive policies. Without data on non-EU families, only the combined data on EU & non-EU reunited families can be used to calculate the family reunion rate.


Key Findings

Other than teaching the language, HR schools provide some of the weakest support to all migrant pupils

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

A large number of pupils and parents were schooled outside HR but nearly all speak the country's language at home. 3.7% of pupils aged 15 were born outside HR, while another 8.4% have parents born abroad. PISA estimated that only around 1% of pupils aged 15 did not speak the country's language at home.

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Hardly any classrooms in HR have been helped to adapt to the needs and opportunities brought by migrant pupils, with targeted education policies scoring only 15/100 and ranking 35th out of 38 countries. Basic language support and intercultural education guidance are well-provided for all schools and migrant pupils. In addition, only ad hoc projects are usually available for a few groups and schools in new destination countries with small immigrant communities, such as in Central and Southeast Europe. Still, compared to HR, most other new destination countries provide greater access to the school system, wider lessons in immigrant languages and cultures, specific funding, training or support staff for schools.

Dimension 1: Access

  • All legally residing migrant children in Croatia can enrol in compulsory education
  • Following the recent amendments of the Law on Education in Primary and Secondary School of 07/15/2013, undocumented pupils will now have limited access to primary school 
  • Still, undocumented pupils will not be able to enrol in secondary school, as in nearly all MIPEX countries, and access higher education or vocational training, as in half of the MIPEX countries (e.g. see FR, GR, ES)

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • HR schools are required to provide very few integration measures for migrant pupils, as in most Central and Southeast European countries
  • Primary and secondary school pupils can benefit from basic support and trained teachers to teach them the language
  • However, language is not the only issue for pupils from other countries; Weak orientation for newcomer pupils/parents and no systematic extra financial or professional support for schools (see box)
  • Limited monitoring of schools' practices & outcomes of migrant pupils

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • HR schools are missing out on the new opportunities that immigrants bring to the classroom
  • Only EU citizen children are provided with free school lessons about their language and culture based on reciprocity agreements with other countries, despite EU recommendations to expand this to non-EU citizens

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Basic intercultural approach in HR and most countries requires greater support to be implemented by schools & civil society (e.g. AT, EE, IE, PT, other Western European countries)
  • Schools must integrate intercultural education throughout their curricula, with guidance from the national educational standards
  • In-service training should include appreciation of cultural diversity as part of civic education
  • School day and activities can be modified to reflect the diversity of the local population

Policy Box

EE provides all newcomer pupils with compulsory, continuous, and standardised support to learn Estonian, as well as their own language and culture. Similarly in CZ law, language courses should be needs-based, professionally taught, and regularly evaluated, while mother tongue and cultures should be available. PL also offers teaching assistants to migrant pupils for extra support in the mainstream classroom and for homework and mother tongue support after school. CZ teachers can integrate multicultural education into their curriculum through state-supported pedagogical materials and teacher trainings like the much-used information portal ( SK also recently introduced ‘multicultural education’ into its curriculum as well as intercultural education trainings for qualifying and working teachers.

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

In HR, only around 1/4 of non-immigrant and 2nd generation pupils with limited literacy proficiency are enrolled in extra out-of-school literacy courses. The situation is similar in neighbouring countries AT, HU, SI, but much higher in IT (52%). The numbers for foreign-born low-literacy pupils are slightly higher (43%).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • >50% of immigrant and non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools
  • 98% of 1st/2nd generation speak official language at home 
  • Sizeable number of foreign-born pupils likely arrive after age 12 (as in HU, SK, SI)
  • Comparatively low % of GDP spent on education 
  • Relatively short duration of compulsory education & high student-teacher ratios 

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

The educational needs of 1st and 2nd generation pupils are great, as they are for non-immigrant pupils. Pupils  with low-educated mothers, with or without an immigrant background, are more likely to be low-achievers on PISA math tests in HR than in most other countries. Around half of the 15-year-old pupils taking the PISA test in HR lacked the basic math skills to succeed in today's society. Similar levels were recorded for 1st and 2nd generation pupils. A similar situation arises in other countries with many low-achievers (e.g. GR, LV, US).


Key Findings

 More obstacles and fewer facilities to integrate newcomers into health system in HR & SI than elsewhere

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

HR is unfavourable at integrating and orienting newcomers into the health system and addressing any of their specific health needs. Targeted migrant health policies are the 3rd weakest of all 38 MIPEX countries, alongside only SI and LV and far below average even for Central Europe. Major legal and administrative obstacles undermine the entitlements for certain categories of migrants, while migrants' specific health needs may be (mis)perceived as limited.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Entitlements in law are generally favourable for legal migrants, but, with few exceptions, limited to emergency care for asylum-seekers and, under certain conditions, undocumented migrants
  • Major problems with discretion and documentation in practice blocking access for all groups (see instead RO and Western European countries)

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Migrants facing problems with access can turn to few policies for help. Weak policies discourage access in HR more than in all MIPEX countries, alongside only DE, SI and a few other Southeast European countries (see instead Western Europe, IT, MT, PT, ES)
  • Basic CHIF website on legal migrants' entitlements in only EU languages (EN, FR, DE, IT, SI)
  • Nothing more on health education, promotion or intercultural mediators
  • One of few countries demanding that providers report undocumented migrants and be sanctioned for serving them (contrast this with inclusive policies in e.g. CZ, FR, IT, PT, ES, CH)

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Services unresponsive to migrants' specific needs, weakest of several Central and Southern European countries (see instead AT, CZ, HU, IT, MT, PT, ES)
  • Qualified interpreters are not available for patients with limited language knowledge 
  • No standards or training exist to help health providers become culturally competent

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Integration policies are not encouraging services to be more accessible or responsive, as migrant health is critically weak in HR's immigrant and refugee integration strategies, a problem across Southeast Europe 
  • Data and research on migrant patients is missing in HR, unlike in most countries
  • No detailed action plans on migrants in health policy or collaboration with migrant health stakeholders (see box)

Policy Box

Within the 2013-2015 integration plan, the Government published an explicit plan for action on migrant health but policies were not implemented to support these measures. The 2013-2015 public health strategic plan by Ministry of Health identified migrants as a hard-to-reach and poorly served group.

Political Participation

Key Findings

The small number of disenfranchised non-EU citizens are an opportunity, not a threat, to HR's democratic life; political participation is missing from HR's integration strategies but now included in similar new destination countries

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Thousands of voting age adults are disenfranchised from voting in HR because they are non-EU citizens. In 2014, the number of non-EU citizen adults (15+) reached 18177 or 0.5% of the HR population. For comparison, 97 of HR's 128 cities/towns had a smaller population than that (under 18000), according to the latest census.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Non-EU citizens are excluded from democratic life in HR, just as in several other new countries of immigration in the region. Only naturalised Croatian citizens have the possibility to inform and improve the policies that affect them daily. Other new countries of immigration have started to include political participation as one area in their integration strategies by removing legal obstacles, expanding voting rights and creating immigrant consultative bodies. 

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Non-EU citizens are denied the local right to vote as in the minority of EU countries 
  • Several new countries of immigration have enfranchised non-EU citizens as part of EU accession and the design of integration strategies (see box)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Non-EU citizens are not guaranteed the same basic political liberties, unlike in the vast majority of MIPEX countries
  • Non-EU citizens cannot join political parties in HR or 11 other Central and Southeast European countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Immigrant leaders and associations are not consulted in national, regional, or local consultative bodies
  • New countries of immigration are creating new bodies, though often weak, government-led and poorly funded (e.g. CZ, EE, GR, IE, soon LT, MT, SI, see box)

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Nor does government structurally finance immigrant-run associations, unlike in 27 MIPEX countries, e.g. grant-based funding model by PT's GATAI)
  • Information campaigns would also have to accompany any future political partiipation policy (see 19 other countries)

Policy Box

New immigration countries in Central and Southern Europe have made progress. Several Central European countries have granted long-term residents the local right to vote (CZ in 2001, EE and SI in 2002) and to stand as candidates in elections (LT in 2002 and SK in 2003). Most countries have used the new European Integration Fund to support associations working on integration. Local and national authorities have started a dialogue and consultation with associations of foreign residents. Examples range from PT, ES, IE, GR and recently EE, LV, LT, PL and soon SI. For instance, the Spanish Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants has an independent chair and issues opinions or reports on any drafts affecting social integration. The Forum has the right to prepare reports, plans, programs on request or own initiative, and to formulate its own proposals and recommendations. Members from immigrant-run associations participate extensively in the preparation and discussion of reports and resolutions, and secure much government consensus around their recommendations.

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

100% of non-EU citizens are disenfranchised in HR, in constrast to the several Central European countries expanding local voting rights to permanent/long-term residents (e.g. EE, HU, LT, SK, SI).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Most from neighbouring countries with similar level of development and civic engagement as HR
  • Most speaking the country's language at home
  • Most long-settled in Northwest Europe and Baltics
  • Many former humanitarian migrants likely to become politically active in long-term

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants participating in political life?

The non-EU-born have much to contribute to public life in HR. Data collected over the 2000s suggests that the long-settled non-EU-born adults (10+ years' stay) are more likely to participate politically than the HR-born. Around 40% reported recently taking part in a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician, similar to the HR-born (35%) and immigrants' averages across Europe (37%). The low-educated non-EU-born are just as politically active as the low-educated HR-born, while the high-educated non-EU-born are more active than high-educated HR-born.

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

The security of permanent residence is a relative strength for the integration of most non-EU immigrants in HR, though the high requirements may hinder rather than help immigrants who are learning the language or looking for jobs

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

Very rough 2011/2 estimates suggest that over 3/4 of non-EU citizens have lived in HR the 5+ years to be permanent residents, which is similar to the situation in most European countries.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Thanks to EU law, long-settled non-EU citizens are eligible after 5 years under rather straightforward conditions to acquire the security of residence and equal opportunities that they need to integrate in economic and social life in HR. The path to permanent residence ranks 13th on par with several new destination countries in the region (BG, HU, PL).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Humanitarian and most temporary residents can apply for permanent residence after 5 years, including short periods outside the country and half their time as students
  • Time not counted for seasonal workers, daily migrant workers, inter-company transfers, and time in prison

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Applicants pay an average fee and have several ways to prove their financial means to support themselves (400% of social assistance level + increases per family member). 
  • However unlike in most countries, applicants also have to bring proof of their health insurance, accommodation, integration and the highest-level of language fluency in Europe
  • Even if students/pensioners are exempt and the disabled are tested orally, the requirement is rather unfavourable for promoting integration, as non-native speakers must pass the costly and high-level language test and integration assessment without enough guaranteed free courses

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Applicants who meet the legal conditions can still be rejected on several grounds due to state discretion, a common problem in the region
  • After a short procedure subject to judicial review, successful applicants obtain permanent residence, as in most countries
  • Few protections against expulsion except for minors and an individual assessment (see stronger legal protections in AU and Western Europe)

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Permanent residents enjoy equal social and economic rights in HR as in most MIPEX countries

Policy Box

Migrants pass numerous state procedures to integrate e.g. for family reunion, long-term residence and citizenship. Procedures that lack explicit rules give discretion to the administration and pose a risk of abuse. Furthermore, applicants are never fully prepared as they do not know what they will be asked.The 2009 CZ language test for long-term residence aimed to ensure equal and reasonable conditions. With an attainable level (A1), free support and professional examiners, this model creates conditions for applicants to succeed, rather than creating more bureaucratic obstacles. PT's 2007 law aimed to create a legal regime fostering legal immigration by opening long-term residence to nearly all categories of legal residents and protecting from deportation anyone born in the country, living there since childhood, or raising their children there.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

10,113 non-EU citizens were permanent residents in HR in 2013, according to national data.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Mostly long-settled humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle permanently
  • Most temporary residents are eligible to apply based on their permit
  • Comparatively low employment and income levels for non-EU citizens in HR
  • Most exposed to the language prior to migration
  • Main option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation given HR's rather restrictive naturalisation policies

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

The number of permanent residents likely reflects the country's path to permanent residence and citizenship.  An estimated 54% of non-EU citizens have become permanent residents in HR, similar to the levels in AT and DE and slightly below the levels in nearby Central European countries (CZ, SK, SI).

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Citizenship policies are slightly unfavourable for immigrant integration and behind European trends to dual nationality and birthright citizenship

Potential Beneficiaries

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Immigrants’ access to Croatian nationality is slightly unfavourable for their integration, especially since the 2011 reform. Croatia scores similarly to other Southeastern European countries and below the European average, especially on birthright citizenship, language/integration requirements and dual nationality.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

Immigrants' eligibility for Croatian nationality was halfway favourable before the 2011 reform extended the residence period from 5-to-8 years (around the EU average) and required permanent residence. While naturalisation is facilitated for people with Croatian spouses and ethnic Croatian roots, Croatian-born children are not automatically entitled to citizenship, as they would be in the majority of MIPEX countries (see most recently CZ and DK).

Dimension 2: Conditions

Ordinary immigrants receive relatively little support to pass Croatia's demanding requirements. They must pay a relatively high fee by Croatian standards, prove B1-level fluency—the highest level in MIPEX countries—and, since 2011, pass a citizenship test, all of this without enough guaranteed official courses and materials to succeed.

Dimension 3: Security of status

Immigrants go through a rather discretionary procedure that should be comparatively short (60 days) and subject to judicial oversight.

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

Applicants without Croatian spouses or ethnic roots are still forced to renounce their previous nationality, which is a major obstacle to naturalisation. By maintaining this requirement, Croatia is following far behind most MIPEX countries embracing dual nationality for all immigrants (25 MIPEX countries e.g. GR, HU, IT, RO and most recently CZ, DK, PL).

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

Croatia reported to Eurostat that only 824 people were naturalised in 2012. These numbers represent a significant drop compared to the 7,000-14,000 naturalised every year between 2003-2008.

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

Croatia's citizenship policies are the strongest factor determining its naturalisation rates. Croatia's restrictive naturalisation policy deters most ordinary non-EU residents. Croatia's overall naturalisation rate is slightly above-average for the EU but largely unrelated to immigrant integration, as most naturalised citizens are co-ethnics abroad benefiting from facilitated naturalisation (similar to BG and HU). The overwhelming majority of naturalising non-EU citizens are nationals of Bosnia & Hercegovina and Serbia. Indeed, since 1991, most of the one million naturalised Croat citizens have been ethnic Croats abroad in other former Yugoslav republics.

Evidence base

What do we learn from robust studies?

The restrictiveness of the policy has the greater effect on their naturalisation rates than other individual and contextual factors. The acceptance of dual nationality is one of the most important policies affecting naturalisation rates.


Key Findings

Non-EU citizens exposed to nationality discrimination in all areas of life; more data needed on their experiences of discrimination, knowledge of their rights and likelihood to report it

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

The creation of its 1st comprehensive anti-discrimination law 85/2008 has been the greatest new development in its integration policy in HR, similar to most new countries of immigration, esp. in Central Europe. Its slightly favourable law and weaker equality bodies are average for Europe, meaning that many potential victims in HR and elsewhere may be too poorly informed and supported to bring forward their case.

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • In HR as in most countries, the legal definitions are slightly favourable for fighting discrimination, but with gaps for some potential victims
  • Many types of discrimination are prohibited on the grounds of race, ethnicity or religion, including, to some extent, multiple discrimination 
  • Ethnic profiling by the police is not explicitly prohibited (see policies in FR, IE, UK, traditional countries of immigration)
  • Nationality/citizenship discrimination remains the key weakness in law, unlike in half the MIPEX countries (see instead BG, HU, IT, RO, SI)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • HR adopts 'horizontal approach' to largely outlaw racial/ethnic and religious discrimination in all areas of life
  • Non-EU citizens remain exposed to nationality/discrimination in all areas of life, from employment to training, education and access to good/services, unlike in 16 MIPEX countries

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Croatia has slightly favourable mechanisms for courts to enforce the law, ranked 13th out of the 38 countries
  • Victims can benefit from financial assistance, shifts in the burden of proof and alternative dispute resolution procedures
  • Though the procedure remains rather long, if victims cannot take the case themselves, they can look to NGOs for support and actio popularis
  • Judges have the full range of sanctions at their disposal in cases of discrimination, in line with EU standards
  • The use of situation testing and statistics in court remains under-developed

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • The major weaknesses in implementation in HR and many European countries are equality policies and the powers of the equality body to help victims
  • Croatia’s Ombudsman can give legal advice to victims, investigate the facts of a case, instigate proceedings in its own name, but cannot lead its own investigations, make binding decisions and enforce findings, unlike equality bodies in BG and HU (see box)
  • HR government could do more to promote equality through social and civil society dialogue, equality duties, and compliance monitoring (see PT, ES, UK, and Nordics) 

Policy Box

BG's Protection Against Discrimination Commission, HU's Equal Treatment Authority, and RO's National Council on Combating Discrimination offer victims independent advice and can issue binding appealable decisions. RO's council is an independent administrative body with a jurisdictional mandate. HU's Authority also has the legal standing to intervene on behalf of the complainant, while also instigating its own procedures, although only against certain public bodies. In the policymaking process, BG's Commission can submit legally binding recommendations to the parliament and government to prepare bills and abolish discriminatory laws. These new bodies are starting to receive discrimination complaints and build case-law, often thanks to the legal standing of NGOs through class actions or actio popularis. 

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

Relatively few complaints and cases have been made by potential victims of ethnic/racial or religious discrimination. In 2013, the Ombudsman registered 44 complaints on racial/ethnic grounds and 15 on religious grounds. 

Under HR's Anti-discrimination Act, statistics on discrimination cases must be collected by all judicial bodies and reported to the Justice Ministry and Ombudsman. In 2012, HR had 116 pending civil proceedings (only 16 closed), 16 pending criminal proceedings (with 4 closed without convictions) and 95 pending misdemeanour cases (leading to 37 judgments). Proceedings are regularly initiated on the grounds of ethnicity, race/colour and national (ethnic) origin.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • Lower levels of general public knowledge of rights as discrimination victims in region
  • Low levels of trust in police and justice system in region
  • Most long-settled in HR



New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!