An early taste of what Croatians can expect from EU entry - the disappearance of a brand with centuries of tradition in July.
With Croatia's accession to the EU just months away, there was a rude awakening for the country's winemakers with the revelation that the name of the world famous dessert wine prošek will cease to exist on July 1, according to a report by Croatia Week on March 25, 2013.
In what is certain not to be the last piece of EU legislation which will infuriate Croatian business, the EU has decreed that the name prošek is too similar to the Italian prosecco, and must therefore be replaced. The fact that the two products have different names and are totally different products - one a sweet dessert wine, the other a sparkling wine - is of no consequence, and nor is the fact that the Croatian brand has a centuries-old tradition, whereas prosecco is a product of the latter half of the 20th Century.
“‘It is an established brand that has been produced in Dalmatia for centuries," multiple award-winning prošek winemaker Andro Tomic told Tportal. "They (Ministry of Agriculture) are supposed to inform us in time. I think one of the negotiators did not do a good job, we are surprised and taken aback."
Tomic (in action above presenting his wines in his impressive Romanesque winery in Jelsa) is one of the country's leading wine producers with exports as far away as Canada, and has every reason to be upset. He is arguably the producer of Croatia's finest prošek, Hektorovic, and he is understandably very angry at the decision, an anger which is compounded by the uncertainty about the fate of existing sales, which may have to be taken off the shelves if unsold by July 1.
The tradition of prošek is embedded in Croatian culture, with an ancient tradition of producing the sweet beverage on the occasion of the birth of a child, and then putting the bottles to one side to be opened on the child's wedding day.
The Ministry of Agriculture has so far declined to comment on why they failed to protect the brand in its negotiations, or why they left it so late to inform winemakers of the decision. It will almost certainly not be the last shock from the new bureaucratic reality, as Croatia becomes an EU member on July 1.