Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Epidemiologist: 4th Pandemic Wave Depends on Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - Croatian Public Health Institute deputy head Ivana Pavić Šimetin said on Wednesday that the latest surge in new COVID-19 infections called for a return to the basic epidemiological rules, noting that a fourth wave of the epidemic would depend on the rate of vaccination against coronavirus.

There have been 3,162 new coronavirus infections in the country in the past 24 hours, and Pavić Šimetin said that such a situation had not been recorded for a long time.

"After we had three stable weeks, with a mild increase in the number of infections, for the past three days we have had a major increase - today the number of infections was 27% higher, yesterday it was 70% higher and the day before yesterday it was 30% higher compared to the previous week. It is a bigger increase that requires a return to the basic measures, notably vaccination," she told a news conference.

She said that the European Commission envisages that the countries with higher vaccination rates and relaxation of measures should not expect a deterioration concerning hospitalisations and deaths, while the countries with a lower share of immunised people, such as Croatia, could expect higher hospitalisation and death numbers as well as more patients on ventilators, and even more severe symptoms among the vaccinated people if the share of the unvaccinated remains high.

We are facing the ascending curve of the fourth wave present in Europe, and the peak and intensity as well as the duration of this wave depends on the rate of vaccinated persons and on what kind of anti-epidemic measures are being taken, she said.

Croatia has not reached collective immunity, colder weather can be expected and the new school year has begun, and all of that has contributed to the current developments, she added.

3 in 4 new cases on Wednesday unvaccinated

Commenting on today's new 3,162 cases of the infection with coronavirus, she said that 74% of them were not inoculated. Of 98 COVID patients admitted to hospital today, 73% were unvaccinated, she said.

Of those under 55 who died of COVID-19, all were unvaccinated, she said.

As for those vaccinated who succumbed to this infection, the epidemiologist said that they were mainly senior citizens with underlying conditions.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Zagreb's Hotel Dubrovnik Plays Host to Prosecco Days 2021

October the 21st, 2021 - Prosecco Days 2021 - a coming together of Italian wine producers and other lovers of bubbles, was held on October the 14th and 15th at the well known Hotel Dubrovnik in Zagreb.

Twenty Italian producers of Prosecco DOC presented 60 of their wine labels, including a large number of Prosecco DOC Rosé - a pink sparkling wine that is a novelty even on the Italian market, launched only in 2020. The list of exhibitors included some big and famous names, such as Villa Sandi, Bottega and Astoria. However, most of the exhibitors were presenting their sparkling wines here on the Croatian market for the very first time.

In addition to winemakers, the fair was also attended by Cibus Et Terra, a manufacturer of handmade equipment for winemakers. The organisers of this event were the Vinoljupci (Wine lovers) Association and the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Italy and the Consortium for the Protection of the Name Prosecco DOC from Treviso.

Irena Lucic, the project manager of the Vinoljupci Association, and Andrea Perkov, the director of the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, spoke at the opening of the Prosecco Days 2021 fair. The Ambassador of the Republic of Italy in Zagreb, HE Mr. Pierfrancesco Sacco pointed out the importance of cooperation between Italy and Croatia and stressed that such events serve to connect and strengthen not only business between the two neighbouring countries but also interstate cooperation.

The Vice Director of the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco DOC, Mr. Andrea Batistela, pointed out that he hopes that this is only the first such fair in a series, and that he believes in successful future cooperation between Italian winemakers and Croatian wine professionals. Finally, the delegate of the Mayor of Zagreb Tanja Operta, head of the City Office for Economy, Energy and Environmental Protection, thanked those present at Prosecco Days 2021 for the initiative to strengthen Italian-Croatian business relations and stressed that such projects will always be supported by the City of Zagreb.

Although Prosecco Days 2021 was primarily conceived as a business fair with the aim of strengthening existing and creating new business links between Prosecco DOC producers and Croatian wine professionals, distributors, retailers and the HoReCa sector, the fair also aroused great interest among wine lovers.

Over the two-day fair programme, in addition to tasting sparkling wines, a lecture entitled "Prosecco DOC - past, present, future" was held by Andrea Perkov. The first mention of Prosecco dates back to the thirteenth century and has a special emphasis placed on it during the Renaissance period when it was known as "a wine that provides longevity and beauty", while today it is one of the most important export products of Italy: Every fourth bottle of wine produced in Italy is prosecco, and as many as 80 percent of produced Prosecco DOC is consumed outside of Italy.

As part of the fair, four wine workshops were held, which were designed and led by wine blogger Nenad Trifunovic Vinopija in cooperation with winemakers.

There was also a gala dinner "Prosecco & Diamonds" where, in addition to delicious food, sparkling wines were accompanied by - diamonds. The partner of the gala dinner, Zlatarnica Rodic, prepared a short, educational lecture on diamonds for those present, and the present representatives of the fairer sex had the opportunity to be photographed with this precious jewellery.

Diamonds weren't chosen at random as the theme of this dinner - as the most precious and shining stone best conveys the value that prosseco has for Italians: they compare the two and often refer to prosecco as diamonds in a glass.

Italy and Croatia are neighbouring countries linked by a long history of economic cooperation When it comes to wine production, distribution and exports, the figures prevail in favour of the Italians, known for being the world's wine leaders. Although popular sparkling wines obtained from the glera variety have been present in Croatia for a long time now, there is more than enough room for market expansion of Prosecco DOC.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

242,113 Citizens with Frozen Bank Accounts over HRK 18.2 bn Debt

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - At the end of September 2021, there were 242,113 citizens whose bank accounts had been frozen for owing HRK 18.2 billion in principal as well as 14,750 enterprises which owed HRK 4.3 billion in principal, according to Financial Agency data.

The number of citizens with frozen accounts was up by 0.35% on the month and by 4.5% from December 2020.

Their total principal debt was 0.6% higher than in August 2021 and 7% higher than in December 2020.

When the interest owed is added, which amounts to HRK 6.8 billion, the total debt of citizens with frozen accounts rises to HRK 25 billion.

Of the total debt, HRK 5.7 billion, without interest, is owed to banks as creditors and HRK 6.5 billion to all financial institutions.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Marlee McCormick

October 20, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN catches up with some of them 6 months on, starting with Marlee McCormick from Texas. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 

 

The program was all the richer for the presence of Marlee McCormick, who broadcast her Dallas radio show each day from the Lazareti coworking space just outside the historic Old Walls of Dubrovnik. Together with husband Jeff, Marlee had a great month in the Pearl of the Adriatic. TCN caught up with Marlee 6 months later to get her current perspective on the program, Dubrovnik and the Croatian digital nomad journey.

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1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

Is it a cliché to say being selected for the DNIR program was a life changing experience?....because that's really an accurate description.  Being able to live and work in a wonderful and inviting city like Dubrovnik was an opportunity and an experience that will stay with me forever.  My husband and I had been wanting to try living abroad for quite sometime, we just had to wait for the right opportunity and for the kids to grow up and leave the nest.  The pandemic made that dream a possibility and the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad program made it a reality.  Once I started working remotely from home, I tested the waters by taking my show on the road, a week here and there.  Those trips were more of a working vacation, but I learned how to make it work and with good WIFI, I could work from anywhere in the world. 

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It wasn't until coming to Dubrovnik that I truly got to experience what it would be like to live and work abroad.  I was able to do a job I love in the U.S. while living as a local in a beautiful European city.  When you add in the facts that I didn't have to get up at 4am for work because of the time difference, had a 10 minute stroll through the old city to the Lazaretti workspace instead of a long commute in traffic, and a postcard view of the Adriatic Sea..... well I would say quality of life just doesn't get any better than that.  My husband Jeff was also working from home and able to join me for our test run at being digital nomads.  Not only did we quickly adapt, we thrived!  Although the DNIR program was only 30 days, we can both see ourselves coming back for extended periods of time and now thanks to Croatia's digital nomad visa, we'll be able to. 

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2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

We have kept in touch with the other nomads in our group despite the time differences and the geographic challenges.  Social media is a great way to stay connected.  I consider these people as sort of an extended family.  We were all very different, but each brought something unique to the table and we all got along so well despite our differences in age and backgrounds.  There have been talks of a reunion get-together in the future.  I really hope it happens.  Jeff and I also made friends with people outside of our core group and we look forward to reuniting with them as well.

 

3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

In my opinion, Croatia and especially Dubrovnik's foresight to get out of their "seasonal tourism" comfort zone and attract visitors year-round was smart planning for the future.  There is so much more to this community than just a daytrip to the old city for gelato (Although, full disclosure, I do love the gelato in Dubrovnik) during a cruise ship stop.   I really hope we DNIR's helped bring that to light.  I know every situation is different, but compared to where we live in Dallas, Texas, we found the cost of living in Dubrovnik to be very reasonable - options for every budget and lifestyle.  Since returning home I have kept up with happenings in Croatia thanks to Total Croatia News.  Croatia is gaining more prominence on the world stage away from tourism.  Businesses are growing and moving there and I'm excited to see what happens with the transition into the EU.

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4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

Without a doubt, the Dubrovnik digital nomad program got the world's attention.  The DNIR roadmap is being used by other countries as a model to launch their own digital nomad programs.  I think we all, including the City of Dubrovnik, the tourism board, TCN and of course our champion Tanja Polegubic at Saltwater Workspace can all be proud of what we accomplished in blazing the trail.  My time as a digital nomad was brief and I'm definitely a newbie, but my experience has allowed me to encourage others to take that leap and even give advice to those that already have through a Dubrovnik Digital Nomad Facebook group. 

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5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

It's encouraging to see that the city has taken some of our suggestions and ideas to move the digital nomad program forward.  I hope when the pandemic is over and tourism fully returns, that Croatia as a whole will stick with the program to attract more dn's from across the world.  Word of mouth and the sharing of information is the best way to do that.  Total Croatia News has played a big part in that.

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6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

There are so many great memories to choose from - a boat day on the Adriatic with the other DNIRs, dining on Peka at an amazing restaurant owned by two brothers on the island of Korcula, having coffee and people watching at cafes on the Stradun.  One of my favorite memories was interacting with the Dubrovnik cats.  I'm a big animal lover and its a charming aspect to the old city.  I left a little piece of my heart in Dubrovnik.  We can't wait to go back next spring and pick up where we left off.  

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For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Rob Schubert

October 20, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN catches up with some of them 6 months on, starting with Rob Schubert from the Netherlands. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 

 

Far from forgetting Croatia, several of the DNIRs have been very active in Croatia. None more so than Rob Schubert, who has been enjoying a lot more of Croatia, including representing the Extra Virgin Digital Nomads at the 4th Olive Picking World Championships on Brac last week. TCN caught up with Rob to reflect on all things nomaddy 6 months on. 

1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

The month was simply lovely! The Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program surpassed my expectations in many ways. 

Firstly the organization was fantastic by all involved partners. Together with the local community's participation, this organization provided an encouraging environment for the service design process. Secondly, it was my first time in Croatia, and it opened my eyes. I experienced that Dubrovnik and more areas of Croatia aren't just tourist hotspots (what I normally like to avoid). There is much opportunity and existing facilities to create a perfect environment for middle/long term stays.

2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

Being on the road and having an international lifestyle means you a lot of new people. Usually, people just come and go, but that was not the case for this group. We all have different backgrounds, but the month in Dubrovnik created a strong bond between us. The group chat is still very active, and we have meetups all over the continent.

I was pleased to meet a bunch up North in Estonia and very recently in Croatia again. So yes, I have spent more time in Croatia, and I will be back sooner rather than later! 

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3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

I attended the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, and I was very charmed by the presentation given by the tourist board of Dubrovnik. Not only were they able to very clearly explain the outcomes of the Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, but they shared new developments to attract digital nomads. To me, this is a confirmation that Dubrovnik and Croatia are serious about developing a sustainable economy/society where digital nomads are warmly welcomed. 

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4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

Yes, I notice a big difference! Significantly more people talk about Croatia in both online and "offline" groups I am part of. Of course, I always have seen great images and heard great stories from Croatia, but now the communication is also about the digital nomad infrastructure. Articles often support the new communication. Lately, I got sent a Dutch item about Croatia as a digital nomad destination.

5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

Croatia created a great buzz with the introduction of a digital nomad visa. The eyes of digital nomads are aimed at Croatia, and locals start to understand what these new types of travellers are. To have a significant impact and create an attractive environment for digital nomads, it's key to keep the momentum of this program going. With follow-up programs like the ones mentioned above, it's reassuring to see that outcomes keep developing.

Consequently, I think it's key to keep pace with development. With most of the Asian countries still closed, more digital nomads are thinking of European destinations. So this is the right time for Dubrovnik and Croatia to amaze other digital nomads with the welcoming infrastructure. 

6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

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Picking a favourite of such a fantastic experience is difficult. There were many great days! Yet there was one evening that particularly comes to mind now. It was a sundowner on a beautiful rooftop in the middle of the old town. Energized by the company of this great group and fresh mussels from Ston (and some watermelon), this evening presented great conversations and many moments of laughter. 

I first-person heard about the developments and plans Dubrovnik has for digital nomads. As soon as these are in place, I have a perfect "excuse" to come back and try them out. See you soon!

 

Rob was part of a very international and all DNIR extra virgin digital nomad team which came a creditable 5th at this year's world championship. They were joined by fellow DNIRs Alyssa from California, Charlie from Wales, Sam from England, and coach Tanja from Australia.

For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Potential for Croatia-Azerbaijan Cooperation Great in Many Areas, says Minister

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - Croatia and Azerbaijan have good economic cooperation, they cooperate excellently in international formats and there is great potential for closer cooperation in many areas of mutual interest, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said during an official visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

Grlić Radman, who is accompanied on his visit by a large delegation of Croatian business people, met today with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

"Croatia and Azerbaijan have been strategic partners since 2013, and in 2019 Croatia decided to open its embassy in Baku, considering the significant potential for economic cooperation... I believe that this visit will boost our economic cooperation and create many new business opportunities," said Grlić Radman.

He noted that Croatia had a lot to offer in terms of goods and services, notably in the field of IT, energy production, shipbuilding, pharmaceutical and food industries as well as the defence industry.

"I would particularly underline the possibility of cooperation in mine clearance, for which Croatia has advanced technology and the competence that Azerbaijan needs," the minister told reporters after the meeting.

He recalled that several Croatian IT companies had opened their offices in Baku.

"We would like to see more Croatian companies doing business in Azerbaijan, just as we want Azerbaijani companies and investments in Croatia," he added.

Grlić Radman thanked Azerbaijan for the aid sent after the 29 December 2020 earthquake in Petrinja, as well as in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Bayramov said that Croatia was among his country's top ten trade partners, underlining also the importance of parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.

Croatia is the second biggest European buyer of Azerbaijani oil but there are many other areas where we can cooperate, he said.

Bayramov said the two countries must also cooperate in international institutions and forums, underlining the importance of building relations with the EU, to which Croatia can contribute.

Azerbaijan is a reliable energy partner to the EU, Bayramov said, recalling that at the beginning of this year the South Caucasus energy corridor was put into operation.

Azerbaijan's oil reserves are estimated at 14 billion barrels.

The Azerbaijani minister said that once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, there would no longer be any obstacles to the two countries' successful and intensive cooperation in the field of tourism.

We see huge potential in that sector, he said, adding that talks were underway to facilitate the visa regime.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in Southeast Europe and the South Caucasus.

Grlić Radman reiterated that Croatia was one of the biggest advocates of EU enlargement, "because that is the best way to achieve long-term stability and prosperity, naturally, on the condition the set criteria are met."

"As for the South Caucasus, Croatia advocates a more active role of the EU in the region, as well as stronger cooperation in dealing with common challenges such as migrations, energy, pandemic and the like. We support the EU-Azerbaijan cooperation in the context of the Eastern Partnership and are preparing together a summit, to take place in December," Grlić Radman said.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Public Health Campaign Highlights Flu Vaccination

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - Influenza has not disappeared because of COVID-19, so it is important to get vaccinated also against the flu which, like COVID, can become a serious illness, it was said on Wednesday at the launch of a public health project highlighting the importance of education about flu vaccination.

The project is called "This season health is in".

Flu vaccination begins in November every year and 650,000 doses have been ordered for this season. The first 260,000 have arrived and are being distributed.

People can get a shot at their family doctor's as well as in pharmacies, which have ordered between 15,000 and 20,000 doses, much less than last year's 150,000.

The purpose of getting vaccinated against the flu is to prevent serious illness, and people can get shots against the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, said Goranka Petrović of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

The pandemic has increased interest in the flu vaccine and last year it was important to us that people were vaccinated for their own protection and for the protection of hospitals, so as to reduce the uncertainties of the two diseases, she said.

Croatia has been recording an increase in flu vaccination in recent years. Last year the number of flu patients was very low due to COVID restrictions and a high vaccination rate, but it remains to be seen if the same thing will happen this year, which makes flu vaccination even more important, experts said.

Ana Soldo of the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacies said pharmacies had lots of potential in promoting vaccination given that 400,000 people pass through them every day.

She added that last year more than 5,000 people were vaccinated against the flu in seven days in pharmacies at 80 locations across the country.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Loan Interest Rates in Croatia Expected to Drop after Euro Adoption

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - When Croatia joins the euro area, its citizens can expect a drop in interest rates on new loans and on loans with variable interest, owing to lower risks, primarily lower exchange rate risks, while holders of fixed interest loans will be able to refinance them if new terms and conditions are more favourable to them.

The issue of interest rates on household loans in the coming period has come to the front burner, alongside expectations of the start of the normalisation of the European Central Bank's monetary policy amidst the rise in inflation. Holders of loans with variable interest rates are particularly interested in future developments.

At the same time, Croatia is making preparations for joining the euro area, which is likely to happen in early 2023.

The euro changeover is expected to have a positive impact on the price of money and loan interest rates, as the euro adoption will lead to the reduction of risk premium in Croatia. The Fitch ratings agency has said that the introduction of the euro in Croatia as the sole legal tender will raise the country's credit rating by two notches  and consequently lead to a drop in the risk premium and interest rates.

Currently, commercial lenders in Croatia already offer lower interest rates for euro-indexed loans compared to loans denominated in the national currency, the kuna. Moreover, interest rates on newly approved euro and kuna loans are very close.

The data provided by the Croatian National Bank (HNB) shows that the average interest rate on the  kuna mortgages approved in August was 2.86%, while the euro loans, issued at the same time, had the average interest rate of 2.71%.

A small difference between the interest rates is to a considerable extent a consequence of Croatia's progress towards euro area membership, the HNB says.

Switching to the euro also means that there is no longer an exchange rate risk for loan holders, and this risk has to date been expressed in higher loan interest rates.

This August, a total of HRK 141 billion was placed in household loans. Of them, 39% were approved at variable interest rates,  8% were loans with fixed rates over a period of up to three years, 15% were loans with fixed rates over a period longer than three years and shorter than loan maturity, and 38% were loans with fixed interest rates.

At the end of August, the kuna loans totalled HRK 78 billion, and 33% of them had variable interest rates, 52% had fixed interest rates, and 5% had interest rates fixed up to three years, 10% were with interest rates fixed for a period longer than three years and shorter than loan maturity.

The conversion of loans after the country's admission to the euro area will be regulated in detail by a law on the euro, which is being prepared and is expected to be adopted in the first half of 2022, according to the HNB.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Beroš: Surge in Coronavirus Cases due to Insufficient Vaccination Rate

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the surge in new coronavirus cases was concerning, but not surprising given the insufficient vaccination rate.

"This is the conclusion of medical professionals at all levels, including the World Health Organisation. The low vaccination rate has a direct impact on the course of this epidemic," Beroš said on Twitter.

The course of the fourth wave of the epidemic is determined by citizens who still have doubts about science and the medical profession, Beroš said. "Their decision affects not just individuals but all of us. Let us follow the example of highly vaccinated countries and head towards a safe health future."

The national COVID-19 response team on Wednesday reported 3,162 new coronavirus cases and 23 related deaths in the last 24 hours. The number of new infections was more than 50 percent higher than last Wednesday, when 2,022 new cases were reported, while two weeks ago 1,925 cases were confirmed. The last time more than 3,000 cases were registered in a single day was April.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Government to Financially Support Municipality Mergers, Says Vecernji List

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - The reform of local government through functional mergers of municipalities with poor administrative and fiscal capacities is a measure that has been announced for years in different electoral and government programmes, Večernji List newspaper said on Wednesday.

The idea is for several smaller municipalities to combine the work they would have difficulty financing by themselves and manage it from a single shared office. But first it should be seen for which municipalities and which types of work this would be cost-effective, the newspaper said.

For this purpose, the Ministry of Public Administration signed an agreement with the Ministry of European Funds in 2018 to analyse the capacities of the municipalities and the work they do. The project, called "Optimisation of the local and regional self-government system", should have been completed before the end of 2020, but it was not. It received a fresh impetus from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, for which Croatia received an advance payment of HRK 6.14 billion from the EU for reform processes, including those in public administration.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration has announced that the public procurement procedure for the implementation of this project will be completed soon.

"A contract with a selected bidder should be signed within no later than a month, and it will then have six months to analyse and draw up a catalogue of jobs in local government," the ministry told Večernji List. The plan is not to analyse the business performance of all 555 local government units but to select a sample of 40 smaller municipalities and see which services they could provide together.

The ministry is expected to finalise guidelines for the merging of local government units based on good practice in the EU before the end of 2023, while the entire system of support to functional mergers should be completed by June 2025, Večernji List said.

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