Wednesday, 19 January 2022

PM Announces Set of Measures to Buffer Price Hikes

ZAGREB, 19 Jan 2022 - The government will design a package of measures to buffer energy price hikes for citizens if prices continue to rise, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in parliament on Wednesday during Question Time.

If prices continue to rise, besides capping fuel prices, we will raise allowances for socially vulnerable households, and as for electricity and gas prices, we will rely on (power utility) HEP, which can share the burden and buffer the blow to citizens, he told Mirela Ahmetović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who asked what he planned to do about price rises.

As a third element, the prime minister mentioned VAT, which is 13% on electricity and 25% on gas.

He said energy price hikes were due to supply disruptions, COVID, and high demand. "Households in Croatia still haven't seen a rise in the price of electricity nor will they experience it before 1 April. It's the same with the price of gas."

"Whether the prices of electricity and gas rise or not, citizens will pay for the growth of basic groceries' prices. That's not important to you because you have money for that," Ahmetović said, telling Plenković he should think about his behaviour because his stock was falling and comparing him with former PM Ivo Sanader.

Peđa Grbin, SDP, asked how much Croatia would be able to spend of the HRK 5 billion from the EU Solidarity Fund for post-earthquake reconstruction and if the deadline for using the money could be extended.

"The deadline is 18 months, but deadlines are not the holy scripture. It's necessary to explain the circumstances to the Commission and I think we will explain our arguments well and use the funds," said Plenković.

Grbin said Plenković should assume the responsibility if the deadline was not extended.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Record-high 10,427 Daily COVID Numbers in Croatia

ZAGREB, 19 Jan 2022 - Croatia registered a new record in daily COVID numbers on Wednesday with 10,427 cases, while 45 people have died as a consequence of the virus, the national COVID response team reported.

The latest number is based on PCR tests taken and does not include Rapid Antigen Tests. The last time a record number was detected was last Wednesday with 9,894 cases.

There are currently 56,208 active cases, including 1,796 hospitalised patients, 204 of whom are on ventilators.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in Croatia, a total of 836,807 cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered, 13,257 people have died. while a total of 767,342 have recovered, including 3,702 in the past 24 hours.

Currently, there are 31,730 people self-isolating.

To date, a total of 4,031,182 tests have been conducted, including 20,292 in the past 24 hours.

As of 18 January, a total of 4,990,195 doses of a vaccine had been administered, which is 56.27% of the total population or 66.98% of the adult population.

A total of 2,283,377 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine while 2,188,899 are fully vaccinated, which is 64.37% of the adult population.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Butković Announces Plan to Buy Six New Ships for Jadrolinija Shipping Company

ZAGREB, 19 Jan 2022 - During Question Time in the Croatian Parliament on Wednesday, Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković announced a plan to buy six new ships for the Jadrolinija shipping company.

"This year we plan to buy six new ships - three passenger ferries and three catamarans - through the National Recovery and Resilience Programme. Construction of those ships will begin this year and continue in 2023. Dubrovnik can expect a new ship," Butković said in response to a question by Mate Frankovića (HDZ) who warned of the obsolescence of the Postira ship which currently connects Dubrovnik with the Elaphiti islands.

Until then the Postira will be repaired or a used ship will be bought to service that route, added Butković.

Independent MP Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj was interested in the situation regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman saying that Croatia cares greatly for BiH's stability and not only for the sake of the Croats there but as a matter of security too. 

Davor Dretar (Homeland Movement) asked Prime Minister Andrej Plenković whether farmers should be concerned about the poor strategic plan for agriculture, as a result of which they could be left without €3.6 billion of EU funds.

"Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković is responsible for that document and she enjoys my confidence," Plenković responded, stressing that the government would invest all efforts to use up the funds allocated for agriculture.

"We have heard that it is nice to live here and that you feel well in this country but the economic and demographic indicators show differently. We saw what happened to you when you went to Petrinja and what the people think about you," Dretar added, unsatisfied with the answer he was given.

Labour Minister Josip Aladrović told MP Dragana Jeckov (Independent Democratic Serb Party) that a new "Make a Wish" programme to employ women was currently being prepared including compensatory measures to bridge the time between two programme periods.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Veljko Mršić No Longer Croatia Men's Basketball Team Coach

January 19, 2022 - The Croatian Basketball Federation and the Croatia men's national team coach, Veljko Mršić, have reached an agreement to terminate cooperation.

Veljko Mršić took over the national team by the decision of the HKS Board of Directors in May 2019, led the first games in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, and together with his professional staff, and great effort of players, successfully passed through the qualifications for the European championship.

At the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split, Croatia did not secure a spot in Japan. In November 2021, a new cycle of qualifications for the World Cup began. The national team started with two defeats and now faces a difficult path in the fight to qualify. The European Championship is scheduled for September 2022.

A session of the HKS Management Board confirming the amicable termination of cooperation was held on January 18, 2022.

"The Croatian Basketball Federation thanks Mr. Mršić for his time and enormous effort, for his contribution to the efforts aimed at strengthening Croatian basketball, and certainly for his cooperation. This way, I would like to wish him a lot of success in his future business engagements," said the president of HKS, Stojko Vranković, when discussing the contract termination. 

Coach Veljko Mršić thanked HKS and his associates for their cooperation:

"After almost three years of good cooperation, I thank the Croatian Basketball Federation for the trust that resulted in the successful placement of the national team at the European Championships, which was defined as the primary goal. A special and sincere thanks go to the players who selflessly gave their best at all times. I would also like to thank all the people who were involved in the work of the national team, the employees of the Federation, and the professional staff for their support. I wish the professional staff support and the entire national team a lot of success in the continuation of the qualifications with a great desire to see Croatia at the World Cup."

The Croatian Basketball Federation will soon comment on further actions regarding the Croatian men's team.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Football Federation to Host UEFA Executive Board Session on Hvar

January 19, 2022 - The Croatian Football Federation announced on its official website that it would host a UEFA Executive Board session on Hvar in September this year.

The session could be critical in the context of the fight with FIFA over the biennial World Cup and the latest preparations for the World Cup in Qatar, which will be held from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

The leadership of the Croatian Football Federation has expressed interest in hosting a session of the Executive Board, and the Federation's headquarters confirmed that UEFA accepts the proposal. Accordingly, the UEFA session will be held on September 21 in Hvar.

"We look forward to holding this session in Croatia and have the opportunity to explore your beautiful country further," reads a letter signed by UEFA Secretary-General Theodore Theodoridis, quoted by the HNS website.

"I thank President Alexander Čeferin and the UEFA leadership for the great trust they have shown us. We are pleased with this decision because it confirms the excellent status that HNS enjoys in UEFA, and I am convinced that we will once again prove ourselves as excellent hosts and capable organizers of such events," said HNS President Marijan Kustić.

The UEFA Executive Board last met in Croatia in 2013, when the session was hosted in Dubrovnik.

Gol.hr reports that HNS president Marijan Kustić and his right-hand man and Čeferin's legal colleague Tomislav Svetina certainly did not accidentally throw Hvar on the table, which is an elite destination of Croatian tourism. Still, there is another important point in the whole story.

Well-known Slovenian lawyer and since September 2016 the leader of European football, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, will combine business and pleasure on Hvar. 

Namely, Čeferin has been spending his summers on Hvar for many years. Moreover, he has a house in the small town of Zavala, approximately in the central part of the sunniest Croatian island, and on the south side.

Hvar locals already know him well. Čeferin has a beautifully decorated house about 200 meters from the sea, and tall palm trees were brought by truck and planted in the garden. From the home terrace, there is a fantastic view of the open sea, and in the immediate vicinity is a small vineyard that completes the experience.

The UEFA Executive Board has 20 members, among them the former president of the HNS and still the top scorer of the Croatia national team - Davor Šuker.

Among the most famous people in the Croatian public are Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a legend of German football and Bayern, and the president of PSG Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Both are members of the UEFA IO as representatives of the European Club Association (ECA), while the famous Spaniard Javier Tebas represents the Europa League (EL).

All major football nations have their representatives among the members of the IO. Sixteen of them are elected by the UEFA Congress, two representatives are given by the ECA and one by the EL, and the UEFA President has a seat on the IO by the logic of things.

Gol.hr assumes that Dejan Savičević, President of the Montenegrin Football Federation and one of the six UEFA envoys to the FIFA Council, will also attend the session.

As the UEFA President can invite third parties to attend UEFA Executive Board meetings in an advisory capacity, we expect other well-known football names.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

A Croatian First: Šolta-Brač Underwater Tunnel Planned, Valued at EUR 50 million

January 19, 2022 - It has taken seven years for the Šolta-Brač underwater tunnel project to get a more concrete status in the Split-Dalmatia County Spatial Plan. 

The status change took place in the third amendment, adopted in December last year. As a result, the essential provision on considering the possibility of underwater connections between the two central Dalmatian islands was replaced by classifying the project in the network of state roads to be built, Slobodna Dalmacija writes.

According to the plan, on the Šolta side, the entrance to the tunnel would be in the Livka area, and on the Brač side at the Milna point. Connecting roads would, of course, lead to the entrance. It will be the first underwater tunnel in Croatia and cost around 50 million euros.

"The initiative for change came from us," emphasizes Nikola Cecić Karuzić, Mayor of Šolta, stating the reasons for which they were guided.

"The interest of Šolta is that by connecting with a large island, it would get the shortest access to the Brač Airport and thus connect with the whole world. In summer, we would have ferry lines all day, now during the season, we have six, and in winter, four, while Brač has at least twice as many.

There are also several high schools on Brač, so our children, who are still studying there primarily for occupations in the hospitality industry, could travel to classes every day by organized transport. But, of course, this would also affect the development of agriculture.

On Šolta, the inhabitants are mainly engaged in sheep farming as a hobby, and at the moment, there are 23,000 sheep on the neighboring shoal. They keep them for agriculture, they fence the olive groves, and the sheep sprout thorns," the leader of Šolta tirelessly enumerates and explains:

"It would also have a positive impact on tourism. If there are up to 100,000 tourists on Brač in the summer, imagine what percentage would come to us, the flow of people and goods, how many activities could take place. These are all advantages of connecting with an island that is more developed than us."

Cecić Karuzić also notes that talks on this project have already been held in the competent ministries and announced the imminent start of obtaining documentation.

The financial side would be solved almost entirely with European Union funds, counting on a share from the treasury in Brussels of 85 or even 90 percent.

"We are interested in helping in preparing documentation and even financially as much as we can," says the Mayor of Šolta.

Šolta and Milna are, therefore, in agreement, but although the initiative to build the infrastructure facility is local, connecting the two islands is a state road, which means that the project will be under the jurisdiction of Hrvatske Ceste.

Until then, according to Zoran Botić, an expert advisor at the County Institute for Spatial Planning, inclusion in the Spatial Plan means that a corridor has been reserved so that the tunnel can be built. In any case, construction will be complex, demanding, and not cheap.

The Šolta-Brač underwater tunnel would be about 900 meters long, with 750 meters undersea since the entrances to the tunnel start on land.

"The width would be up to 18 meters with separate pedestrian and service corridors, and the internal height for vehicles at least five meters. It would be built of prefabricated pipes of individual lengths of 50 to 100 meters that would be laid in a planum made at the bottom. Part of it would be buried because the depth of the sea above the tunnel should be from 12 to 15 meters so that even the largest ships can sail unhindered."

The limitation of the longitudinal slope of tunnels should also be mentioned, for which the existing regulations should be corrected, i.e., harmonized with the world regulations for underwater tunnels. The higher longitudinal slope of the tunnel was once strictly limited due to the exhaust gases of vehicles, and today in this area, significant progress has been made in the construction of modern cars.

Indeed, tunnel ventilation remains a significant and unavoidable expense. The construction material must be high-strength concrete, waterproof, and resistant to the influence of salt. Croatian builders already have experience in the construction of large bridges and maritime structures.

Modern insulating materials in the form of various concrete admixtures and insulating coatings also enable significant savings," Botić said. 

In assessing the value of the investment, he started by noting that the construction of an underwater tunnel is twice as expensive as that on land or by building a bridge:

"Based on the cost of building such projects in the world, this would cost between 40 and 50 million euros."

As for the deadlines for implementation, Botić says no less than two years for obtaining the documentation:

"This deadline is realistic, especially for projects that have not been done so far, but also given the demanding environmental impact study, while the construction itself will take two and a half to three years."

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

2 Polish Lot Zadar Lines, Brussels Airlines Split and Dubrovnik Flights for 2022 Summer

January 19, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as two Polish Lot Zadar lines will return this summer, and Brussels Airlines Split and Dubrovnik flights have been announced from April. 

Polish national airline, LOT Polish Airlines, will resume traffic between Zadar and Rzeszow, the largest city in southeastern Poland, in the upcoming summer flight schedule, reports Croatian Aviation.

Namely, LOT has announced on its official website that the Zadar-Rzeszow line, a city in southeastern Poland with just under 200,000 inhabitants, will return this summer. This route was introduced by the Polish airline in the summer of 2020, and regular operations also took place in the summer flight schedule in 2021.

Flights between the two cities will run once a week, every Saturday, starting on June 18, and the Polish airline plans to use DashQ400 aircraft with a capacity of 78 seats.

In addition to the regular route from Rzeszow, LOT Polish Airlines will operate to Zadar Airport on a regular route from its main hub - Warsaw.

Flights between Warsaw and Zadar should start on Saturday, April 30. Larger capacity aircraft, such as the Embraer E195, which has a total of 112 seats will operate on this route.

Like other airlines, LOT Polish Airlines is currently working on finalizing the summer flight schedule, so in the coming weeks, we will know the official 2022 summer flight schedule. 

Furthermore, Croatian Aviation reports that Brussels Airlines has announced its 2022 summer flight schedule, which includes two Croatian airports - Split and Dubrovnik. 

Although the airline was expected to increase the number of weekly rotations to Croatia, judging by the published schedule for the summer season, this will not happen.

Namely, the Brussels - Split - Brussels line has been announced from Saturday, April 23 to the very end of the summer flight schedule, Saturday, October 29. Two flights a week are currently announced on Saturdays, both on Saturdays, offering 642 seats on its A319 and A320 aircraft on a weekly basis between the two cities.

The Brussels - Dubrovnik - Brussels line is on sale from April 2, and flights are announced once a week, also on Saturdays. Unlike flights to Split, the route to Dubrovnik should run until October 1. Airbus A319 aircraft with a capacity of 141 seats in the passenger cabin has been announced between Brussels and Dubrovnik.

Brussels Airlines has previously confirmed that it will not return to Zagreb International Airport, which was expected given that Ryanair has introduced a regular route between Brussels Charleroi Airport and Zagreb, and Croatia Airlines operates from the main Belgian airport from Zagreb. This year, Brussels does not plan to operate to Zadar Airport, but only to keep seasonal operations to Split and Dubrovnik.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Ecological Awareness has Highest Growth in Central Europe

January the 19th, 2022 - While it might not seem to be the case when watching people fail to separate their waste or constantly use single use plastics, but Croatian ecological awareness is the highest among five Central European countries.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, when compared to five other Central European countries, the strongest increase in support for nature care was recorded among Croatian residents, according to a study published in the Journal of Sociology.

The work of sociologists Bruno Simac, Tijana Trako Poljak and Vladimir Ivanovic from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb analyses data from the European Social Survey from 2008 and 2018 and compares trends in expressing concern for the environment. This rise in Croatian ecological awareness is more than encouraging given the EU's strong focus on the green transition, in which the environment is being placed first.

They chose Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, explaining that they share a similar geopolitical position, historical heritage and socio-cultural miles, and there is a thesis that as post-communist nations, they support environmental protection less than advanced democracies typically do. The strongest increase in aid for care for the environment and for nature during the aforementioned period is related to Croatia, which, along with neighbouring Slovenia, had the highest result related to nature care back in 2018.

Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic recorded stagnation in their results, and Hungary has shown an unfortunate and significant decrease in the same aid from between 2008 and 2018.

Croatia had one of the lowest results way back in 2008, but while Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic didn't move forward much at all until 2018, Croatia took second place, surpassed only by Slovenia. The research used the so-called Schwartz's values ​​that emphasise the importance of society, and thus the whole "universe" over individual interests, which provides a new dimension for the interpretation of environmental attitudes in these countries.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Taxi Market to be Regulated by Constitutional Court

January the 19th, 2022 - The Croatian taxi market is set to be regulated by the Constitutional Court following a considerable amount of time spent in turmoil following a law change made back in 2018.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, after the government managed to appease crises in the dynamic Croatian taxi market with the new Road Traffic Act 2018, the market has been relatively calm recently. However, the coronavirus crisis reduced the so-called market ''cake'', and back in 2020, taxi drivers started with the turmoil and protests once again due to certain provisions of this law, and at the end of last year, the state made a concession to taxi drivers regarding the age of the vehicle fleet and postponed stricter regulations until the year 2023.

Now a new dawn of sorts has arrived where traditional taxi drivers who are members of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) are asking for a review of the constitutionality of the law which came into force back in 2018. Namely, as was explained by HOK, it is disputable that, although the law provides the cities and municipalities in whose territory this transport takes place to make some rules, decisions can ultimately be made by the relevant ministry.

HOK pointed out that the introduction of paragraph 14 in Article 47 of the Road Transport Act restricts or deprives local self-government and regional self-government units of their rights, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia as is proclaimed in Article 3 of the Constitution.

“The provision of Article 47, paragraph 13 of the Road Transport Act stipulates that the competent administrative body of the local self-government unit, ie the City of Zagreb, is obliged to decide on the application for a car taxi permit and issue that decision within 15 days. With this provision, the legislator gave local self-government units, ie the City of Zagreb, the authority to independently decide on the issuance of licenses for autotaxi transport in accordance with Article 129 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. However, paragraph 14 of the same article stipulates that if the competent body referred to in Article 13 does not decide on the request within the specified period, the Ministry will act on the request and issue an appropriate decision within the next 15 day period.

This provision implies that it restricts the right of local self-government units given to them by the provision of paragraph 13 so that it prescribes the return of authority by transferring it again to the state body or the competent ministry if the local self-government unit doesn't provide a response to the request within the prescribed timeframe,'' said Dragutin Ranogajec of HOK. He added that such a legal expression is a precedent in Croatian legislative practice because its general and wide application would mean derogating from administrative supervision, ie administrative procedure as an instrument of control through a two-stage procedure.

In order to avoid such situations in which local self-government units are stripped of their powers, the Constituent Assembly enacted a provision of Article 130 of the Croatian Constitution which stipulates that local and regional self-government units are independent when it comes to performing tasks within their scope and are subject only to the constitutional and legal review of authorised state bodies. In the case prescribed by paragraph 14, as those affected have duly pointed out, it isn't about the supervision of authorised state bodies over the work of local and regional self-government units, but instead about limiting or depriving them of a right granted to them by law, which violates one of the highest values ​​of the constitutional order proclaimed in Article 3.

"The Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts considers that the goal of the provision of paragraph 14, which presupposes speeding up the procedure for issuing licenses for autotaxi transport, is not a sufficient legitimate reason to limit the rights of local and regional self-government units, thus violating the provisions of Article 130 and Article 3 of the Constitution,'' believes Dragutin Ranogajec, head of the Chamber of Crafts.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Youth Leaving Country Because They Can't Leave Parental Home?

January the 19th, 2022 - There are many things responsible for the ongoing Croatian demographic crisis, from corruption to salaries to a bad economy, the list goes on and on. Croatian youth typically live with their parents for far longer than we see in most other European countries (with the exception of a few similar ones), could this be why they'd rather take their chances abroad?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, in the media presentation of the results of last year's damning census, the increase in housing units was singled out as a surprise, but this is not really unexpected.

In the previous census, the one from back in 2011, the same thing happened, the number of inhabitants of the country dropped, and the number of residential buildings increased. The difference is that the then smaller decline in population was accompanied by significantly higher growth in the number of real estate.

Specifically, in 2011, a total of 4.285 million inhabitants were counted in Croatia, ie 153 thousand less than ten years earlier, while in that interval the number of housing units increased by 370 thousand, to 2.247 million buildings.

The latest census recorded 3.889 million inhabitants and 2.350 million housing units.

However, the first data doesn't really give us a complete picture because, according to the president of the Real Estate Association, Dubravko Ranilovic, further processing has yet to reveal whether the reconstruction of the housing ''stock'' has finally begun and then we need to be given an accurate picture of the size, quality and purpose of these facilities. Reconstruction of the housing stock, he says, has been lacking so far.

In addition, the picture will be framed by data on the age structure of the population, as well as how many members of what we consider the Croatian youth have an apartment. So far, the population has been aging, and entering the EU acted as a "booster" for the emigration of Croatian youth.

The previous census from back in 2011 determined the average age of the country's residents to stand at about 42 years, which was three years more than in 2001. Now, of course, ''we'' will be even older, the only question is by how much.

92 percent of men and 84 percent of women under the age of 29 still live with their parents.

Dwellings are important in the overall picture, because one of the most cited problems in the emigration of Croatian youth was their inability to provide housing, independence and leave their parents' home. According to recently published Eurostat data, many households in Croatia are overcrowded, and the amount of Croatian youth still living with their parents is incredibly high.

In Croatia, 36 percent of the population lives in overcrowded homes, although 91 percent of people live in their own property, but these properties are too small, have too few rooms or too many household members. By comparison in the EU, the least overcrowded households are in Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands, where less than 5 percent of the population lives in overcrowded properties/homes.

When looking at the percentage of young people aged 16 to 29 living with their parents, Croatia is the EU record holder, because in those years, most Croatian youth still live with their parents. 92 percent of Croatian men and 84 percent of Croatian women still live ''at home'', while the EU average is 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women.

This matter will be made even clearer if it is known that apartments in Croatia make up only a quarter of the properties in the country, which might come as a surprise to some, so it is even clearer why young people find it much more difficult to stand on their own two feet and become independent.

Eurostat also found that from 2010 to the end of the third quarter of 2021, Croatian property prices, both for purchase and rent, were significantly below the EU average. Croatia is therefore among the countries with the lowest growth, and interestingly, the largest increase was in countries where Croatian youth tends to migrate, such as in Germany and Austria when it comes to selling prices, and Ireland when it comes to rent.

However, the prices themselves, although lower in Croatia than in Western European countries, are not crucial, according to Ranilovic, because it is noticeable that they fell in the areas from which the most people emigrated in recent years, and in those areas there were fewer transactions anyway. In addition, Ranilovic stated that as many as a quarter of Croatian property purchases, about 7,000 of them, were made by foreigners in Croatia last year.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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