Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 309650
Croatian Youth and European Integration
Croatian Youth and European Integration, Zagreb: Institute for Social Research, 2007 (monografija)
Croatian Youth and European Integration
Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija knjige
Uredničke knjige, monografija, znanstvena
Institute for Social Research
youth; Croatia; European integration
The subject of this study – The Youth in Croatia and the European Integration – is the relationship of youth toward the European integration process, including the Croatian accession to the European Union, as well as their sociopolitical readiness for integration into a united Europe. The analysis is based on a section of data gathered in early 2004, on the entire Croatian territory, and conducted within the scientific and research project Youth and the European Integration Process. The basic sample of youth, aged 15 to 29, consisted of 2000 examinees, and the control sample of persons older than 30 consisted of 1000 examinees. The obtained findings on youth have been systematically compared to results from the previous research project, The Value System of Youth and Social Changes in Croatia, conducted in early 1999, on an identically structured sample of 1700 young examinees. Data on Croatian youth has also been compared to the corresponding findings of several European researches. European integration is a dynamic and multidimensional process, and in this research, the accent was on the political and normative dimensions of integration. The genesis of the political development of European Union has indicated that, in spite of the oscillations in the process of integration, there is a recognizable progress toward the construction of a Europe of values, where all the included countries meet with equally high democratic demands. The existing research into the European integration process has undoubtedly shown that the relationship of citizens toward the EU varies as a function of time, and depends on the specific situation in certain countries or societies. Croatia is a transitional country that has stepped into the process of democratic consolidation, and after the year 2000, it had also stepped out of a certain kind of international isolation. Today, Croatia is a country trying to join the united Europe, which has managed to obtain the status of a candidate country for accession into the EU, albeit with an uncertain date for accession negotiations. Even though the main obstacle for the start of negotiations is supposedly the lack of satisfaction of the EU with the Croatian cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, the existing tendencies and events in the country indicate that Croatia is not adequately prepared to join the Union: not at the political, nor the social, and especially not at the economic plain. The indicated findings are also the starting points in the research of the relationship of Croatian youth toward the European integration process. A valid analysis of this relationship demands a previous insight into some aspects of the political readiness of youth for European integration of Croatia. With that in mind, special attention was dedicated to political values, attitudes and participation of youth, whose longitudinal monitoring enables a detection of changes that took place during the past five years. The data comparison showed that during the observed period of time, the young people’ s otherwise relatively high acceptance of almost all the constitutional values, as well as the harmonious perception of politics and institutional trust have increased, while the lack of hard work, discipline and responsibility are now perceived as a social problem to a greater extent than before. The recent data also indicates that today’ s youth perceive the existence of educational, gender and age inequalities in the Croatian society to a larger degree, as well as the worsening of political representation of all marginal groups. On the other hand, the understanding of conflicts and democratic rules (especially the role of the opposition) has weakened, the perception of crime in ownership conversion and privatization as a problem has decreased, there is also a weaker perception of the existence of social and religious inequalities, the social activism and political participation have decreased, and the attitude about inclusion into youth organizations of political parties and the establishment of independent youth parties as forms of activities that might contribute to a more active participation of youth in the society has decreased. From hence comes the conclusion that certain changes tend to lead to further social, most of all political, (self)passivization and marginalization of young people. The continuity of tendencies established in the previous research projects, confirm the finding that the young are not a monolithic group when it comes to acceptance of political values, expression of political attitudes and the level of political participation. The greatest differentiation is present regarding the not so present tolerance toward most observed social phenomena and groups, the perception of unemployment as the most important social problem and the cause of existing difficulties, the perception of existence of political inequalities and the stated interest in politics, as well as the perception of the role of the “ diaspora” in the Croatian political life. When these results are observed integrally, it is obvious that the young are mostly differentiated by the level of obtained knowledge and their socio-professional status, then party identification, social origin and the phase of maturity. All the mentioned differentiations of youth can simply be summarized by outlining two large, relatively polarized groups: one consists of socially more competent youth, inclined to the ideological and political options of the left center, and the other consists of a socially inferior youth, inclined toward the right pole of the ideological-political spectrum. The socially more competent youth is more liberal, more critical toward the social reality and the political actors, they manifest a greater respect for democratic institutions and procedures, which is an indicator of the importance of favorable circumstances in the process of political socialization. The recent data enabled us to establish the existence of inter-generational differences, which are not enormous but are significant. The comparative analysis of the attitudes of both the young and the older examinees, demonstrated that the young state a higher degree of trust in the media than the older examinees, that they are more tolerant toward a number of social phenomena and groups, which cause dispute both in the Croatian and the European public opinion arena, as well as more sensitive regarding ethnic inequalities. The young perceive war as the main cause of current difficulties to a greater extent than the elders, they have considerably more trust in their own generation as a social force that could initiate positive trends, they express a greater readiness for inclusion in different civil society activities, and believe more that television and youth organizations could mobilize them into active participation in social affairs. At the same time, the young are slower than the older examinees to accept the value of a democratic order, however, they are also less prone to have a harmonious understanding of politics, they are less socially sensitive, they express less trust in the institutions of power, the socioeconomic goals and the preservation of tradition are less often among their political priorities, they less often think immorality and criminal activities in the privatization process are the cause of current problems, they perceive a smaller level of corruption in all areas of social life (aside from education), they believe less in the positive contribution of experts and entrepreneurs to overcoming the trends of crisis, they are less interested in politics and participate less in political parties, and they have a smaller level of faith in the mobilization role of education for democracy, volunteer work, political parties and non-governmental organizations, as well as the contribution of the family and education system in the stimulation of the young people’ s social engagement. The established inter-generational differentiation can be explained through the life cycle theory, meaning the mentioned differences are mostly the effect of differing social statuses and the complete experiences of the young and the older examinees. That means that most young people have not assumed some of the permanent social roles, and that their immediate experiences are limited only to some social areas among which politics do not have a prominent place. The existing inter-generational differences are also the result of the fact that most older examinees draw on their experience gained in a different social and political regime, which to a certain measure forms their existing system of political values that is, in certain elements, especially those related to the social dimension, different than the youth’ s system of political values. On the other hand, the congruence of the young and older examinees is contributed to by a common experience of an era, that is, life in a specific socio-historic period. The absence of deep inter-generational ambiguities also indicates that, in spite of the radical changes that have appeared through the decomposition of the old and the set-up of a new social and political order, the mechanism for transposing political values from the older generations to the young ones, functions to a considerable degree, along with the transfer of the shortcomings that exist in the structured political awareness of the older generation. Even though it was established that the youth in Croatia accept the traditional values to a smaller degree compared to the elders, the young are at the same time somewhat more conservative in certain areas than their European counterparts. Pointing to this finding is the greater orientation of the Croatian youth toward the family and a smaller extent of tolerance of certain phenomena and groups in the contemporary society. At that, the social participation of the Croatian young generation is at a lower level than the participation of their European peers. The attitude toward human rights is also one of the indicators of political preparedness of Croatian youth for integration into a democratic Europe, which promotes high standards in the protection of human rights and freedoms. The research results about the evaluation of individual human rights and freedoms, show that the youth accept the right to an education, the right to work and personal security, the right to privacy, the social protection of the elderly and those in other precarious situations, the equality before the law, the rights of women and the right to ownership the most. The analysis has shown that the preference of individual human rights and freedoms is not caused by the observed socio-demographic and socio-structural characteristics of the young, aside from education, which points to the significance of the education system as an agent of improvement of the state of human rights. Approximately a third of the young examinees were not satisfied with the respect for human rights in Croatia today nor were they satisfied five years ago, the percentage of the undecided has decreased in that period of time, and the number of those that think human rights in Croatia are mostly or completely respected has increased. The results of the analysis of social attributes of youth indicate that the ability of assessment and a higher degree of criticism toward the status of human rights in Croatia is related to life in economically more prosperous regions, a left ideological-political orientation as well as the female gender. The comparison of the evaluation of the contribution of institutions, organizations and significant individuals in the population of youth in 1999 and in 2004, established that the generation of youth today perceives a higher level of contribution of all observed participants (except for the opposition) to the protection of human rights and freedoms in Croatia. More precisely, most of the young assess that all the participants, completely or mostly, contribute to the realization of human rights in Croatia, which especially refers to the perception of the contribution of the highest institutions of power. The perception of the status of human rights in Croatia and the contribution of the observed actors to the realization of those rights, are considerably highly influenced by regional affiliation and party identification, followed by their social background, their gender and the religious self-identification of the young. The comparison of acceptance of the observed human rights and freedoms of the populations of young and older examinees in Croatia, indicates that the elders accept most individual human rights and freedoms more than the young, and that they also express less criticism toward today’ s respect for those rights and freedoms in Croatia, while validating the contribution of all the observed actors to a higher degree. To summarize, the analysis has shown that the young accept human rights and freedoms very highly at the level of principle, but that there is a certain disagreement when it comes to concrete rights and practices in Croatia. Even though the degree of acceptance of the value of human rights and freedoms is high among the young, there are also deviations indicating an increased need for additional engagement of certain agents of socialization, especially the education system and the political actors. The national affiliation of youth is another indicator relevant to its relationship toward the European integration. The research has shown that the attitude most represented with the youth is one of moderate national identification, then the ones signifying an openness toward the world, while ethno-centric statements are at the back of the obtained hierarchy. The attitude that had demonstrated the highest representation of national identification is for the first time at the top of the rank in all our research projects, just as it is evident that nationally tinted attitudes, both moderate and extreme, are more represented now than in 1986 or in 1999. Such an increase of the national affiliation of the young can be interpreted by the fact that there is more emphasis on existential problems and that there is a higher uncertainty regarding the future, then the increase of differences between the rich and the poor, as well as a smaller degree of trust in the political leadership. The immediate confrontation with this type of social instability, results in a search for safer modes of relationships with other people, the society as a whole and some of its parts, where the nation represents one of the safe havens, much like family and church. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the attitudes of openness toward the world are quite stabile, and that they are often complementary instead of being opposite to attitudes of national identification. At the same time, this points to the complexity of the problem of national affiliation and the fact that it does not have to be exclusive, but can actually coexist with attitudes that enhance the process of European association. Regarding their national affiliation the young are, of course, not homogenous. The results of the analysis have shown that the nationally oriented youth is significantly more religious than the others, they prefer the conservative parties, live in Dalmatia, Central and Eastern Croatia, they originate more often from rural areas and families, where the father has a lower degree of education, they personally have a lower level of education and, within the youth sample, they belong to the youngest age cohort (age 15 to 19), and the groups of pupils and the unemployed. On the other hand, a significantly lower national affiliation is expressed by youth coming from the Istrian, Zagreb and Northern Croatia provenience, those indecisive about religion or atheists, youth of urban background and a higher family and personal education status. However, regarding cosmopolitism, the young demonstrate significantly more homogenous results. It is especially indicative that the more ethno-centric examinees and, to a smaller degree, those with a pronounced national identification, more often have a negative perception of the European Union, while the nationally more exclusive examinees refuse to even support the accession of Croatia into the European Union. The examination of the social (ethnic) distance toward certain nations has demonstrated that the young have put members of the former Yugoslav federation and Russians at the back of the scale, while, with an under-average evaluation, the center of the scale is occupied by members of certain Central and Eastern European nations (the Czech and the Hungarian). Inhabitants of the European Western and Southwestern territories, especially the Italians, which occupy the first position after form the Croats, and the Germans, demonstrate satisfactory results just by being evaluated by average grades. However, the degree of social closeness that the young citizens of Croatia feel toward other Croatian men and women, indicates a certain dose of self-criticism, because approximately one third of the young do not feel an especially high level of affinity toward, for the most part, their own nationals. The older examinees differ from the young in that they more pronouncedly represent attitudes at the center of the national affiliation scale, as well as indicate a higher ethnical distance on average. However, the fact is that, in spite of the existence of inter-generational differences when it comes to national affiliation where the older examinees dominate, there are also inter-generational differences that indicate a better position of the youngest examinees in our sample (aged 15 to 19). This phenomenon has already been described in literature by the so-called U-curve, which vividly illustrates a higher national affiliation of individuals at their earlier and later periods of life. Thus, the greater national affiliation, on the one hand, seems to appear as an expression of an adolescent transitional crisis, and on the other, as a consequence of a long-term perseverance of the perception and production of (most probably) negative experiences with a specific out-group. The relationship of the examinees toward the European integration and the European Union has been investigated via numerous indicators, where the emphasis was on the perception of the possible consequences of Croatian accession to the EU. However, other aspects of the relationship toward Europe and the EU have been the object of research, presenting a wider context for understanding the perception of consequences of joining the Union. The obtained results demonstrated that most of the young and of the older examinees in Croatia actually had a neutral image of the EU, even though those with a positive image exceed those that perceive the EU negatively. Actually, nine tenths of the examinees have in the beginning of 2004, supported the Croatian integration into the Union, but among those examinees, there is a highest number of euro-skeptics, that is, those that believe that too much is expected from the accession. At the same time, there were considerably less euro-enthusiasts (those that expect all-around benefits from the integration) and euro-realists (who believe that integration is inevitable for the survival of small countries). As for the difficulties standing in the way of the Croatian road to a united Europe, the examinees had equally addressed them to both Croatia and the European Union, however, the number of young emphasizing the accountability of the EU has increased from 1999 to 2004, and the number of those accenting Croatia’ s responsibility has, in the same period of time, decreased. The finding that the young expect significantly more positive than negative consequences after the Croatian accession into the European Union, is especially important. However, in this regard, there has been a mild decrease in the expectation of the positive, and an increase of the negative consequences among the young during the last five years. The highest positive expectations have been registered at the individual and the socio-cultural planes, while the optimism regarding the socio-economic progress has decreased. Indeed, the lack of socio-economic preparedness of Croatia for the entrance into the developed European surrounding is expected to yield the most negative consequences. The research of the expected development of the EU in the coming ten years, has shown that only the possibility of easier travel, work, study and life in Europe is expected by most of the examinees, especially the young ones. The young are quite fearful of the costs Croatia might have from the integration and of the worsening position of the agricultural population. The negative conesquences expecting their own country are, however, less perceived by the youth in Croatia, than by their counterparts in Europe. Related to the fears from the construction of a united Europe and European Union, we have established that the youth in Croatia is most afraid of the abolition of the Croatian currency and the increase of crime, and its smallest fear has to do with the potential loss of social privileges. The fears of examinees in the enlarged Europe are somewhat different – the most expressed fear is that of labor transfer into other countries, the increase of crime and drug trade, the difficulties expecting the farmers and the price their country has to pay due to the development of the EU. Both the young and the old examinees in Croatia are less worried about the loss of national identity, language and their social privileges than the European examinees. All our examinees emphasize the multiple benefits of the EU enlargement, followed by the positive effects of that enlargement for Croatia, while the efforts of the Croatian government, regarding the accession to the Union, are valued quite poorly. The potential accession of Croatia into the European Union shall also signify a change in the decision-making process, meaning that some of those decisions will be reached at the national level, and some jointly with the EU. Our examinees have, in this regard, demonstrated a high level of readiness for integration, because more than half of them believes that four fifths of the observed areas should be the object of joint decision-making by the EU and Croatia. The only areas in which, in the opinion of the young examinees, Croatia should decide autonomously are the acceptance of refugees, the judiciary, culture, agriculture, fisheries and the police. The Europeans differ in their opinions on these issues from the Croats, and believe two thirds of the observed affairs should be decided on jointly by their country and the EU, while their country should be autonomous in deciding about education, basic rules about the media, health and social care and unemployment. Different social groups have, based on the perception of youth, been grouped into potential losers of the integration (farmers, the retired, workers, the unemployed), potential winners of the integration process (such as the inhabitants of the capital and certain regions, the young, as well as the Croatian population as a whole), and certain winners of the process of integration, which are also the best prepared for Croatian accession into the EU (experts, foreign language speakers, the political elite, managers, large companies). Actually, it was shown that the young consider the social groups which are in a relatively better position in the Croatian society today to be the greatest winners of EU integration, and those whose current status is unenviable, who are in the greatest need of a better future, were perceived as those that will potentially gain the least. The only encouraging fact is that the young are seeing themselves as the potential winners, meaning they believe the existing abilities and potentials of the young generation only need optimal circumstances in order to reach their peak. However, the data about the knowledge of foreign languages in Croatia are not very exhilarating, especially compared to the knowledge of foreign languages of the youth in the European Union countries. Within this research, we have also found that approximately three quarters of our examinees are proud of being Croatian citizens, while around half of the young, and somewhat less of the elders are proud to be European. The young are the ones to be more critical toward their national identity, and at the same time they lead in the positive validation of their European identity. However, the most interesting finding concerns the fact that all the Croatian examinees feel less national pride than the inhabitants of the European Union, while it is understandable that the examinees in the EU emphasize their pride of being European more. The answers of the examinees regarding the question about the contents of the concept “ being a citizen of the European Union” indicate that neither the young, nor the older examinees posses a coherent understanding of the EU citizenship. Still, the right to work, live and study in any EU member, represents the key element for the understanding of EU citizenship, both with the young people in Croatia and with the youth in the Union. The young and the older Croatian examinees believe that active suffrage is the least important, regardless of whether the elections in question include the European Parliament, the national or the local representative bodies. Only one out of four Croatian examinees believes the Croatian membership in the EU might benefit them personally, while almost half of all the young and a third of the older examinees do not posses a defined opinion on this issue. It is clear that this feeling is closely related to the question of the personal meaning the European Union holds for the examinees, where neither the young nor the elders have a homogenous perception of the meaning of the EU. A single response appeared in an above-average number of cases – the EU is a way of creating a better future for the young – while the claim that the EU signifies a sort of “ European government” , superimposed to the national states which are members of the Union, received a small level of support. Unlike that, the young from the Union countries emphasize the freedom of movement most often, while in time, the very concept of “ European government” became more pronounced in the attitudes of the European youth. The young people in Croatia, as well as in the EU, express an equally small level of fear of the euro-bureaucracy, the loss of cultural diversity and the utopian idea of Europe. Considering the readiness of the young to live outside of Croatian borders, we have found that almost two fifths of them would like to live (and work and study) abroad for a while, while a quarter of the Croatian youth would like to leave the country forever. The older examinees, on the other hand, demonstrate a higher level of conservativeness toward the possible departure of their children into one of the countries of the Union, but they are, however, ready to accept their possible studying and training in the EU, while only one out of seven examinees would like his/her children to permanently live or spend their entire working life in one of the countries, which are members of the European Union. The analysis of the differentiation of the young in their relationship toward the European integration and the EU, has indicated that the used social characteristics have a limited influence. In other words, the young are relatively homogenous in their perception of a united Europe and the expectations from the Croatian accession to the European Union. However, certain differences do exist, and they are mostly caused by party identification, socio-professional status, regional affiliation and religious self-identification. This means that the most influential attributes, when it comes to attitudes toward the European integration process, are the ones consisting of ideological-political attitudes and the current social status along with the specifics of the wider environment. Thus, we have found that the sympathizers of parties that belong to the left center, then pupils and students, the inhabitants of the more developed regions and the non-religious examinees are more inclined toward the EU and the integration process, and at that, they emphasize the positive consequences and the potential gains from the Croatian accession into the Union, more than they express their concerns with the negative consequences. Hence, the concise conclusion would be that the greater social competence of the young is reflected in the establishment of a stable and more consistent pro-European orientation. Otherwise, the young differ from their older counterparts in their higher expectance of positive effects from the Croatian integration into the EU and, at the same time, in the lower perception of expected problems and undesirable consequences. Considering information sources and the level of information of the young in Croatia, the results show that the young follow the news in all the media outlets relatively often, but that they do lag behind the older examinees, and the examinees coming from the former EU candidate countries. This finding does not apply only to the use of the Internet as a source of information, where the young people are far superior to the older examinees. With that in mind, it is interesting that the young differ the most among each other, in the use of Internet and the reading of daily newspapers, where the socially more qualified young examinees (the more educated, coming from an urban environment and richer regions and averagely older ones) are the ones that use both media for obtaining information more often. As for the contents the examinees look for in the media, it is visible that the young are much more interested in events from the social and cultural life, and much less in issues related to politics. A comparison with the examinees from 13 countries that were EU candidates, demonstrated that they are far more interested in all the contents (aside from sports) than the Croatian examinees. Regarding the assessment of their own level of information about the EU, somewhat more than half of the young have stated that they are well informed about the European Union and events in it, compared to two thirds of the older examinees believing they are well informed. On the other hand, the results of both the young and the older examinees are surprisingly high, compared to the data on the level of information of the inhabitants in the 25 countries of the European Union, where three quarters of the examinees thought they were poorly informed about the issue. Closely related to the question of the level of information about the European Union itself, is the question about the general level of information about the Croatian accession to that association. The results demonstrate a somewhat different trend than the previous finding. In this case, less than half of the young consider themselves to be well informed about the process. It is interesting that the identically gathered data on this issue, from the former EU candidate countries, yielded a much lower evaluation by the examinees on their own level of information. Regarding issues and problems related to the EU that the examinees would like more information on, we have established that both the youth in Croatia and the examinees from the former EU candidate countries, find issues related to the Union’ s policy on youth and education to be the most interesting, followed by the economy and social policy. Along with that, the issues regarding the enlargement of the EU, the cultural policy, the international relations, the regional policy and the EU budget are the ones the young find to be the least interesting. The manner in which the examinees gather information on the European Union mostly include the mass media outlets (the press, the television and the radio), and only then other forms of information gathering, such as discussions with their families and friends, surfing the Internet, specialized books and other published material, and the activities of non-governmental organizations. There are no significant differences in the use of the stated sources of information between the young and the older examinees, except in the case of the Internet. Considering the examinees from the 25 EU member countries, they use all of the observed sources as a way of getting information about the European Union, its policies and institutions, in a smaller amount. The examination of the objective knowledge of the examinees on specific issues related to the European Union has yielded devastating results. Thus, when asked about the phase Croatia was in, regarding the accession process into the EU, at the moment the research was being conducted, the correct answer was given by only a third of both the young and the older examinees. The second question asked, dealt with the familiarity of certain institutions of the European Union. The young and the older examinees do not differ very much from each other regarding their knowledge of this issue: the most familiar institution to both of them is the European Parliament, followed by the European Commission, then the EU Council of Ministers, then the European Central Bank, while all the other institutions were familiar to less than two fifths of the Croatian examinees. The examined citizens of the European Union are, understandably, more familiar with each of the observed institutions. The social attributes of the young, causing the greatest differences regarding their level of information, are mostly the ones connected to their level of socio-cultural qualifications (the socio-professional status and the level of education), followed by gender, and then provenience, regional affiliation and the age of the examinees. The highest level of information and knowledge belongs to men from the oldest age cohort of youth, those born and living in large cities, the inhabitants of the most developed regions, students and the employed examinees, as well as those with a higher education degree, the non-religious and examinees preferring liberal and left-wing parties. Along with all that, it is important to stress that a better level of knowledge and information about the European Union, its policies, institutions and enlargement process, correlates to positive attitudes about the different aspects of the European Union (the image of the EU, the following of issues related to it, the support for the Croatian accession to the Union, and so on), which, most probably, means that they are mutually determined. The inter-generational comparison has, on the other hand, indicated that the older examinees are more interested in most issues appearing in the media, especially politics, and that they assess their level of information to be better than do the young examinees. To put it shortly, the results of the research on the information level and knowledge of the Croatian citizens – both young and old – about the European Union, have indicated that they are not that interested in the European Union issues, as much as their level of presence in the media and the political agenda might imply, and the examinee’ s knowledge about the relationship of Croatia and the EU is at an even lower level. Henceforth, it is necessary to conduct a strong and comprehensive public campaign directed precisely at the increase of the level of information and knowledge of the citizens about the European Union and what it represents, so that when the issue comes to the agenda, the Croatian inhabitants might make an educated decision about their country’ s accession to that community of European states. The research results presented above may be summarized into a number of tendencies and statements of a wider nature. The political culture of the young testifies, in a number of aspects, to an approximation to the desirable democratic standards – especially regarding the acceptance of basic liberal-democratic values and the readiness for social engagement, at lease in principle – however, their social power and social capital are at a low level. At that, the young are aware of their own social and political marginalization, and recognize an entire plethora of measures that might help them gain a certain measure of power and become active citizens, as is desirable in a democratic society, but they do not use sufficiently the channels of social and political promotion, which are at their disposal. Today’ s generation of youth expresses a lower level of social sensitivity and is more oriented toward individual efforts and family resources in the realization of life goals. At that, it seems that the young are not aware of the fact that an unequal access to existing social resources of the young generation today will have generated an unequal social status when they come of age. Hence, we can expect a widening and deepening of the process of social decomposition, that should be corrected through mechanisms that are supposed to ensure the highest possible equality of chances in the access to social resources (most of all, education). What we mean to say is that human capital is what Croatia, as a small and an insufficiently developed country, should deal with very thoughtfully. This, at the same time, signifies a maximum of investment into the development of human potentials, where the young generation certainly comes first. The inter-generational differences regarding the readiness of Croatia for accession into the European Union, and the relationship toward the European integration, are not of such a type and scale that there could be any mention of a generational gap, however, they are indicative. The most visible fact is that the young have demonstrated a more liberal, tolerant and flexible disposition, that they have a higher belief in the potentials of their own generation, and that they are consistent in their pro-European orientation, where they see their own generation as one of the certain winners of the Croatian accession into a united Europe. These trends suggest that the potentials of the young are a resource to be seriously reckoned with on the Croatian road into the EU. The process of the Croatian accession into the European Union is linked to different difficulties that affect the attitudes of citizens about the importance of Croatian entrance into the EU. Through this research, we have clearly detected that, unlike the Croatian political elite, both the young and the older citizens do not consider the Croatian integration into EU, to be the most important political goal. The political priorities of the citizens seem to be quite different, and their support to the project of European integration is weakening. It is, then, realistic to expect this trend to continue if the problematic events in the European Union persist, just as the difficulties in the relationship of Croatia and the EU, as well as the unfavorable economic and social trends in Croatia itself. This is why there are two equally important political tasks facing the ruling political elite: the initiation of the development of Croatia and an well-argumented explanation to the Croatian citizens why the country’ s integration in the united Europe is purposeful.
Politologija, Sociologija, Psihologija
Prijevod djela: Mladi Hrvatske i europska integracija.