German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenković (Photo: HRT) German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenković (Photo: HRT)

The Prime Minister and his Bavarian counterpart discussed trade, which has seen steady gains on an annual basis. Trade between Croatia and Bavaria exceeded 1 billion euros last year. In 2017, Croatia welcomed nearly 1.2 million Bavarian tourists, accounting for 40% of all German tourists visiting the country. The two leaders spoke about the future of the EU and cooperation in security, defense, and migration. Plenković pointed out that Croatia was ready to join the Schengen Area and protect the EU’s external border.

Minister Kaniber, who has Croatian family roots, said she was pleased with the meeting.

“I have to say I am very happy that Croatia is making progress,” she said.

He also meet briefly with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the EPP gathering. The EPP is staking stock of the past four years and to setting priorities ahead of the 2019 European elections.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who is attending this meeting as guest, highlighted Croatia’s goal to join the Schengen Area by 2019.

“Croatia has fulfilled all the criteria set by the EU. We have shown that we understand what are the main goals and policies are and that we are prepared to protect the interests of newcomers to the European family,” he said, speaking about Croatia’s preparations for entering the Schengen Area.

“The time and effort we have invested on various levels has proven to be beneficial to our country. Implementing EU laws and policies, as well as the agreement on the redistribution of the EU budget, has had a concrete impact on the lives of Croatian citizens,” he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined the basic terms of Germany’s future European policy. She said that it was not possible for Frontex or some border control force to stop all those who want to enter Europe illegally. She called for the new Marshall Plan for Africa. Her message to the EPP, the strongest faction in the European Parliament, was that they needed to join forces together and that only a united European Union could compete with the United States, Asia, and others.