Sunday, 6 June 2021

Belgium Tops Croatia 1:0 in Final Friendly before EURO 2020

June 6, 2021 - Belgium tops Croatia in the final friendly match in Brussels on Sunday. 

The European Championship starts next Saturday for Belgium in St. Petersburg against Russia, and for Croatia a day later at Wembley against England.

Five days ago, Croatia played only 1:1 against Armenia.

"We made a historic result three years ago. This is not the same team that was at the time. We have a young team that has talent but needs time to play. I hope we repeat a good result. It is true that we are playing against the best team in the FIFA rankings and we have great respect for them, but we want to achieve the best result. It's a big challenge for us, but the game is played six or seven days before the first match at the Euro, the most important thing is that there are no injuries," said Dalic before the match.

Zlatko Dalic led the team in accordance with the announcements. Three changes were made compared to the Armenia friendly - Kovačić strengthened the midfield instead of Vlašić, Rebić played on the right wing instead of Brekalo, while Petković replaced Kramarić at the top of the attack.

Lineups

Belgium: Courtois - Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen - Castagne, Tielemans, Dendoncker, Chadli - Mertens, Carrasco - Lukaku

Croatia: Livaković - Vrsaljko, Vida, Ćaleta-Car, Barišić - Brozović, Kovačić - Rebić, Modrić, Perišić - Petković

In the first five minutes, Croatia controlled the game and didn't allow Belgium to enter their half. Belgium's first chance came in the 11th minute when Brozović was careless and gave the ball to Chadli, who hit over the goal from the edge of the penalty area.

Belgium became increasingly dangerous as the match continued and hit the crossbar twice in the 31st minute. Perišić threatened a minute later but his shot was blocked. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Belgium finally scored in the 38th minute. A mixup in the Croatia defense allowed Lukaku to score from close range for 1:0. Petković found Perišić for a chance in the 42nd minute but he was offside. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Gvardiol made his debut at left back instead of Barišić to start the second half and quickly confirmed his spot on the Croatia team. A great ball in the box by Gvardiol in the 52nd minute found the head of Petković who aimed at Courtois. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Mertens had a dangerous opportunity for Belgium moments later was weak in is shot. 

Croatia looked good at the opening of the second half but still did not create opportunities. In the 61st minute, Dalić subbed on Pašalić, Vlašić and Kramarić for Modrić, Kovačić and Rebić.

Croatia possessed well in the 10 minutes that followed. Brekalo came on for Petković in the 69th minute. Vlašić shot for Croatia after what felt like ages, but it was an easy save for Courtois. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Oršić came on for Perišić in the 80th minute, and Eden Hazard entered the match for Belgium one minute later. 

Belgium had a massive chance in the 88th minute but two brilliant saves by Livakovć kept it 1:0. Brekalo had Croatia's best chance of the game in the 90th minute which was famously saved by Courtois. The match ended 1:0 for Belgium.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Ryanair's first flight to Zagreb, tickets from €20

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - Irish Ryanair on Wednesday started operating a new route between Zagreb and Brussels Charleroi, which is scheduled twice a week, and the same airline announced the launch of several other flights from Zagreb, with ticket prices from €19.99, Zagreb Airport (MZLZ) has said.

The flight to Milan Bergamo launches on 17 June, and the flights to Gothenburg, London Stansted, and Rome Ciampino will be available from 23 July, when the first Ryanair airplane will be based in Zagreb.

The full Ryanair flight schedule from Zagreb for summer 2021 will be available from September, when the second airplane will be based in Zagreb and nine new routes will open to Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, and Montenegro.

Ryanair's Sales and Marketing Manager for Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Olga Pawlonka, said that she was pleased that her company had officially marked the first flight for Zagreb on the Brussels Charleroi route.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Friends of Croatia: European Parliament Office in Zagreb - First Contact with Croatian Citizens

May 6, 2021 - The third article in the series "Friends of Croatia: European Parliament Office in Zagreb", explores a small but dedicated office whose central focus is the 12 Croatian members of the European Parliament, as well as informing citizens and educating them about the European Union.

July 1, 2013, was a historic date for Croatian international integration as the country finally joined the European Union. The Union of developed European countries called for an enormous celebration on the main Ban Jelačić square in Zagreb. Many people saw different opportunities, and lots of opportunities were promoted by politicians ahead of joining. But, with almost eight years in the EU, could we actually list specific benefits and determine if Croatia is truly taking part in the „European dream“?

„EU membership made Croatia stronger, and there are many examples of the practical effects of it. I’ll mention two important ones: access to the common market and commitment and implementation of numerous political and economic reforms. Of course, one of the most visible immediate results of the EU membership was the end of customs controls at internal EU borders, which made crossings much smoother, with less hassle for people and goods. The removal of administrative and tariff barriers meant lower costs for businesses which – in combination with access to significant EU funds - translated into concrete economic advantages, helped the recovery, and increased exports. Also worth mentioning - the interest rates on loans have dropped, which lowered the costs of borrowing money for citizens and the business community, and this will be become even more pronounced once the country joins the euro. When it comes to Croatia’s contribution to the EU, along with its heritage, culture, and tradition that enriched the bloc, the country also brought its example and enthusiasm for the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. Croatia is a vocal advocate of the European perspective for the region and considers the enlargement to be the most effective transformation mechanism that the EU has“, summarized Violeta Simeonova Staničić, the Head of the European Parliament Office in Zagreb, which is dedicated as the first contact between the European Parliament (EP) and citizens in Croatia.

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Violeta Simeonova Staničić © European Parliament Office in Zagreb

The Office started its work in February 2013. Simeonova Staničić and three other associates put the whole project in a small space in the backyard of a former EU delegation. Describing the team in 2013 as the „EP Delta Force“, Simeonova Staničić recalled the difficulties of their early engagement. „It was difficult to operate properly and to be visible as the country was not yet a member state, so we were not able to function as an official liaison office. We couldn't even do a proper information campaign for the first EU elections when Croats decided who would be their first official members of the European Parliament“, she said.

While any EU organization is often perceived as big and loaded with people, the EP office in Zagreb counts six staff members. Being a complex organization which can often be misunderstood, their informative service on all thing EU is extremely important.

„People tend to have a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the competencies of the EU. In various policy areas, EU member states still hold primary responsibility. Health policy, for example. Social policies and retirement as well. In others, the EU is in the lead as it is ultimately more beneficial for all countries involved that decisions are made and actions taken with the interests of the entire Union in mind. Unfortunately, too often, we can see that when something good happens, usually national governments are credited for it, and if something is not going well, then Brussels naturally is to blame. But various crises and challenges have shown that the EU is at its finest when working as a team player, one community and a common market“, explained Simeonova Staničić. She added that when solidarity prevails, everyone gains a sentence that can underline the usefulness of international cooperation that is the EU.

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2019 EP elections campaign "This time I vote" © European Parliament Office in Zagreb

The citizens recognize the help the Zagreb EP office can offer, and the Office gets lots of inquiries daily. Over time, the phone calls were more often replaced by e-mails, and first contacts are often made through the Office's social networks. 45,000 followers on Facebook and heavy engagements on Twitter and Instagram, and the quick response of the small staff are certainly admirable.

„We sometimes receive the bulk of documents as many people send us copies of their dealings with various institutions or judicial bodies. These types of problems are, of course, beyond our remit, but we will always try to help people to identify the right authority they need to address and contact in order to resolve their issues. We also get requests from various researchers and scholars who need help with finding certain data and material important for their work, or who need background information on a certain topic“, said Simeonova Staničić, adding the questions they receive are quite diverse.

The central part of the Office’s daily work revolves around 12 Croatian members of the Parliament. “Working with Croatian members of European Parliament is our daily priority and what we center our work around. We organise press conferences and events around issues they work on and committees that they are members of. We cooperate and communicate with them very successfully, as we foster a mutually beneficial relationship with them. As a rule of a thumb, we virtually have no event without a member of European Parliament present“, Simeonova Staničić explains. 

The other part of the Office's role includes working with youth, media, and NGOs.

When it comes to the media, the Office informs daily about ongoing debates and discussions concerning the day-to-day activities of the European Parliament. They also strive to put important decisions in context and promote and explain the work of members of the Parliament. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Office even invited journalists to follow the plenary sessions in Strasbourg to give them the opportunity to familiarise themselves better with the institution and its role in the EU decision-making process. In return, a steady community of journalists following EU affairs is formed in Croatia, and the expansion of reporters is something the Office always welcomes. The accent is put on working with local media, and several outlets managed to get co-finance for their projects by European grants.

Cooperation with NGOs depends on every project and topic of interest, but with the diversity of NGOs, some sort of collaboration with some organisation is always ongoing.

Regarding the youth, two projects stand out. „Our two most successful projects to date are Euroscola and European Parliament Ambassador School Programme (EPAS). Euroscola became so popular among all Croatian schools that whenever we had rounds of regional or national selections, we had over 100 schools competing for very limited quota to go to Strasbourg for a day at the European Parliament. Through Euroscola, we created a fantastic network of incredibly involved, active, hard-working schools all over Croatia. The EPAS program was launched in 2016, and today we have a wide network of over 50 high schools scattered across the country. They cooperate closely with us and follow the work of Croatian MEPs throughout the entire school year“, pointed out Simeonova Staničić.

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Senior EP Ambassadors © European Parliament Office in Zagreb

Apart from media and citizens, the cooperation with the official bodies of the state is at a high level too.

„We collaborate very well with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government institutions. For example, we cooperate when the delegation of the European Parliament comes to Croatia to work on a certain topic related to the upcoming legislation. This cooperation was particularly pronounced in the run-up to and during the first Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union“, said Simeonova Staničić.

Particularly good collaboration is also made with the Croatian Parliament, a natural counterpart of the European Parliament. Currently, they are organizing the conference on the future of Europe, but also a more regular public award ceremony for the European Citizens’ Prize (established in 2008 by the EP to award individuals or groups that contributed to empowering European Integration).

„We are also regularly in contact with foreign embassies in Croatia, in pre-Covid times they were not only guests at our events, but also provided interesting speakers from their own countries for our panels and conferences “, described Simeonova Staničić the vast web of cooperation the Office has in Croatia.

Although being an Office for the European Parliament, they also help citizens by giving information on other EU institutions and how to get in touch with them. Informing citizens of ways to actively take part in European democracy, Simeonova Staničić describes as „the core of everything we do as an office of the most democratic institution of the EU“.

„European citizens can petition the European Parliament through our dedicated portal (European's Citizens's Initiative). This is a very transparent process whereby individuals or associations can submit a petition on a subject which comes within the European Union’s fields of activity and which affects them directly “, she explained.

Croatian perception and EU scepticism.

Perhaps it depends on the algorithm or just the loudness of its spokespersons, but it seems Euroscepticism is on the rise in Croatia. Still, Simeonova Staničić's view is much more optimistic and based on the public opinion surveys

„Actually, the latest Eurobarometer survey shows that 78% of participants in Croatia state that EU membership is beneficial to Croatia, and 74% of those asked believe that COVID-19 economic recovery will be faster thanks to the EU. The majority of the respondents also answered that they have a positive image of the EU“, she said. She continued, however, that almost similar in size is the number of people who have neither negative nor positive opinions.

„For us, these 'non-committal' ones are really important and we try to reach them with our work. We need to raise their awareness about the advantages of the EU; thus, we mainly address young people, who are natural citizens of the EU, who are so accustomed to all the freedoms and opportunities the EU gave them that they take them for granted. They are not aware that there was a time, not so long ago, when these opportunities did not exist“, explained the Head of Office headmistress.

She added that entrepreneurs, managers, and small and medium business owners are most aware of EU benefits, making them natural partners and ambassadors with whom the Office also works really well.

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Lux Party on election year © European Parliament Office in Zagreb 

In similar rhetoric, Simenonova Staničić dismissed my thesis that young people recognize the easier traveling and working in other member countries as the only benefits of the EU. Firstly pointing out that „freedom of movement, freedom of choice, and the privilege to be employed without administrative barriers in any member state is one of the biggest values and benefits coming from an EU membership“, which means „escaping Croatia is not the right terminology“. Also, just as Croatians are leaving the country, other countries experience the same thing as their citizens are coming to Croatia.

„Due to the pandemic, we are actually witnessing more EU nationals temporarily moving to Croatia, as they work remotely. There is a large community of EU nationals which continues to grow, and it has a lot to thank Croatia’s EU membership“, argued Simeona Staničić.

Indeed, the reputation, and trust in the global community secured by EU membership, certainly contributed to the rise of digital nomads coming to Croatia, on which TCN regularly reports

The Head of Office once again repeated how most of the benefits in EU Croatians regularly experience and are enjoyed without realizing it is thanks to the EU. 

„When there is a new school lab or student housing being built with European funds, or when our young people go off to university or college and take for granted that they would go on an Erasmus exchange; when they don’t have to pay major tuition fees while studying abroad in some other EU member state but are charged the same rate as locals; when, together with other European countries like France, Belgium, and Germany, your government is part of negotiations on major questions of international importance: from health to peace and security...“, she listed various examples.

When asked to comment on Croatia's respect for human rights and European values, a question inspired by last year's cases the Republic of Croatia lost in the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg, Siemonova Staničić refused to comment and instead explained that the role of the Office in Zagreb (as well as anywhere in Europe for that matter) is not political.

„We are here to provide support to members of the European Parliament in the exercise of their official mandate on the hand and to ensure that people understand actions of the Parliament and to encourage them to engage in the European democratic process on the other. This is important because citizens have tools to influence the legislative agenda of the EU directly “, explained Simeonova Staničić. For the already mentioned European Citizens Initiative, the EP must consider proposals with 1 million verified signatures.  

Zagreb office for every EU citizen: Speaking English, Croatian, and six more languages!

As the EU is dedicated to being beneficial for every EU citizen from every country in the organization, so is the EP Office in Zagreb. Simeonova Staničić says the Office serves every EU citizen in Croatia, and whether - in person or online, they will address any issue or interest non-Croatian EU citizens may have and gladly respond and engage.

„In general, we work in the language of our host, which in this case is Croatian. Nevertheless, every European official is obliged to pass the employment exams in one of the working languages of the European Union and within two years to be able to work in 3 languages. In our case, our Office uses predominantly Croatian and English, but I am proud to say that my colleagues are proficient in many languages, and we can serve European citizens also in French, German, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Dutch, and Italian, without hesitation“, assured Simeonova Staničić.

The same service is also offered to Croatians in other EU countries, as every member state has an EP office. And cooperation being the keyword, the offices are frequently in touch as well.

"For example, the Parliament organized an online solidarity event called #EPASwithPetrinja where pupils from three member states (France, Ireland, and Spain) engaged with their counterparts from Petrinja and Zagreb to express solidarity in the wake of the disastrous earthquake that hit parts of Croatia and to comfort children their age from those hard-hit areas. At the event, we had members of the European Parliament from France, Ireland, and Croatia as speakers,“ Simeonova Staničić gave one example, adding that the cooperation is also there whenever there is a common topic or members of the European Parliament from different delegations work on major legislative or policy issues of interest to European citizens across the Union.

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EPAS with Petrinja © European Parliament Office in Zagreb

The EP offices are always located in the capital city, and several countries also have the so-called „Antenna offices“ located in other larger cities such as Germany (Munich), France (Marseille), Poland (Wroclaw), Spain (Barcelona), and Italy (Milan).

„We do not have offices around the country. However, both our Office and the Representation of the European Commission in Croatia use the network of the so-called Europe Direct Information Centres. There are 10 of them in Croatia currently, and they are located in Petrinja, Slavonski Brod, Čakovec, Šibenik, Zadar, Osijek, Virovitica, Split, Pula, and Karlovac. They are not under our authority - we do not control them, and they are not a part of our structure. But they are our natural partners in various activities and often serve as local contact points“, explained Simeonova Staničić.

To conclude, the European Parliament Office in Zagreb is open to assist anyone that wants to receive any information related to the European Parliament - be it regarding its debates, ongoing plenaries, committee meetings, work of the members of the European Parliament, or general information concerning other European institutions.

The address of the Office is Augusta Cesarca 4 in the House of Europe on European Square in Zagreb, which is open from 9 am to 5 pm (however, due to the pandemic, the office is closed to the public until further notice). At that same time, you can reach them on the general E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on the following phone numbers:

For public relations (citizen inquires): 

Violeta Simeonova Staničić (Office head): + 385 1 4880 280 (E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Janja Mateja Aleš (assistant): +385 1 4880 269 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Andrea Čović Vidović: +385 1 4880 273 or +385 91 510 6830 (E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Marko Boko: +385 1 4880 274 (E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

For media relations:

Maja Ljubić Kutnjak: +385 1 4880 272 or + 385 99 490 4715 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Barbara Peranić: +385 1 4880 272 or + 385 99 271 3026 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

You can also follow the Office on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Flickr.

For any changes with the address, contacts, etc., check their official website.

To read more from the series "Friends of Croatia", follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about European Union in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 5 March 2021

No Restrictions on Aid to Enterprises, Says Daily Paper Jutarnji List

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Brussels will leave it to Zagreb to decide on how to distribute money from the EU Recovery Fund, the Friday issue of the Jutarnji List daily reports, noting that there are no restrictions on aid to enterprises. 

There are no strict limits in drafting the national recovery and resilience plan, through which around HRK 45 billion of EU funds will be made available to Croatia to help it recover from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of how much funds can be allocated for public investments and how much for private investments, as there is no such distinction in EU regulations.

This conclusion is based on a reply from the European Commission, after the Croatian Employers' Association asked that at least 50% of the available money be disbursed in direct grants for investments by the private sector, instead of spending most of the HRK 45 billion on investments in the public sector.

According to an interpretation presented earlier by Croatian negotiators and published by Jutarnji List, entrepreneurs would have access, through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, to direct grants and loan subsidies and guarantees in the maximum amount of HRK 4.5 billion, or only 10% of the available amount. In citing the amount, Croatian negotiators referred to restrictions imposed by the EC.

Zvonimir Savić, PM Andrej Plenković's advisor and national coordinator for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, has nonetheless said that around 30% of the HRK 45 billion could end up in the private sector, if one takes into account the involvement of businesses in planned public projects, from research and development, energy transition and development of innovative tourism to stronger food supply chains, the daily says.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Picula: Stronger European Union Support for Control of Croatian Borders

Strasbourg, 18 April 2019 - Croatian MEP Tonino Picula supported the report on the proposal of the regulation on the European [Union] border and coast guard during the last plenary session in Strasbourg.

"I'm glad that we'll have stronger support from the European Union in the control of our borders and European [Union] borders,'' he concluded during yesterday's debate on the report on the proposal of the European Parliament.

Croatia's MEP Picula was the initiator of the successful extension of the European Coastal and Border Guard for the Schengen area along the external borders of the European Union, including the Republic of Croatia, and he stressed how the new agency will help to better protect the borders in order to preserve free movement inside the European Union.

Thus, today the Croatian foreign border is protected a part of Schengen, and the Republic of Croatia has the funds of the European border and coast guard available to it, which greatly eases the job of border officials.

The European Border and Coast Guard consists of the border police and coastal police of member states and the agency for the European border and coastguard, more specifically Frontex, and was established in the autumn of 2016. 

"Since I come from Croatia, the country with the longest foreign land border in the EU, I especially support the work of the agency along the external borders of the Union, not just the Schengen area, from which we are still closed off with barbed wire,'' he pointed out.

Only four months after Croatia's accession to the Schengen Information System, it was done 75 million controls and identified over 4000 offenses. This proves the importance of Croatia as a partner in securing the external borders of the European Union and justifies its quicker connection Schengen area.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

British Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish Discusses Potential No Deal Brexit

Andrew Dalgleish talks about the unwanted yet still possible No Deal outcome, what this means for Croats in the UK, what it could mean for Brits in Croatia, and how, if at all, Brexit will affect Croatia's tourist industry.

While many British citizens in Croatia remain worried for their future in the country, rest assured that we at TCN, along with the British Embassy in Zagreb, will continue to do our absolute best to keep you informed of any changes, should they occur at all, to your rights to residence, access to healthcare, the labour market, and your access to Croatia's social security system.

We have already written numerous articles on what Brexit is likely to mean when it comes to British citizens living in Croatia with regulated status (biometric residence permit of either temporary (privremeni) or permanent (stalni) residence (boravak), which was your right to claim as EU citizens. I'd like to preface this by saying that there is no need to do anything but remain calm despite the sheer lack of information provided to you, we're fully aware of your concerns and will seek to assure you as best as we can along the way.

MUP has assured TCN in private correspondence with me that British citizens, even in the unwanted event of a No Deal Brexit, who have a valid residence permit of some kind, will not be seen as illegal persons living on the territory of the Republic of Croatia on the 29th of March this year. Please click here for the full article on that, as well as ways to safeguard and prepare, here for MUP's statement to Balkan Insight, and here for Paul Bradbury's meeting with Andrew Dalgleish, the UK Ambassador to Croatia, which took place a few weeks ago. Should the UK leave with May's deal on the UK's Withdrawal Agreement, click here to find out what that means for you.

Although the following article doesn't talk quite enough about the rightful worries and fears of Croatia's resident Brits, the number of which is well under 1,000, Andrew Dalgleish sits down to discuss what a potential No Deal Brexit might mean should it occur, and sought to reassure that British tourists, who are among the most numerous European visitors to Croatia, will continue to come.

As Mark Thomas/Slobodna Dalmacija writes on the 19th of February, 2019, before Britain's (planned) exit from the European Union scheduled for March the 29th this year, we talked with UK Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Andrew Dalgleish, to find out what the future of the always positive relations between Croatia and the UK are set to become.

"Croatian citizens living in the UK shouldn't worry if Britain leaves the European Union without agreement because the [British] Government has taken all the measures to protect [EU] citizens [living in the UK at the time of exit]," the ambassador stated.

The British Government ''is making a huge effort to reach an agreement'', and the outcome of Brexit for Great Britain has two scenarios, at least in this phase of negotiations; the UK leaving the EU, should it continue to stand by its current position, either with or without agreement. Whatever the solution turns out to be, it will bring new questions, as well as new solutions, in terms of citizens' rights.

If Britain leaves the European Union on March the 29th, how will it affect the status of Croatian nationals living in the UK in the case of a No Deal Brexit?

Since the beginning of the negotiations around Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has been very clear on this issue: Citizens should not be bargaining chips, the lives of people and their needs are what is really important here. Then, when we came to the end of the negotiations, the prime minister said that regardless of what would happen [regarding the UK's withdrawal from the bloc], Croats and other citizens of European Union countries (EU27) who are legal residents of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will basically hold the same status and enjoy broadly the same rights as they did before the 29th of March, 2019.

Croats should not immediately see any change in their current status in the UK. This is a real indicator of how much Britain truly does appreciate the citizens of other European Union countries living in the UK. No matter what other EU members do in return, the prime minister has been very clear on this matter.

After March the 29th, EU citizens will be able to live normally in the UK, enjoying continued unimpeded access to all the social, health and education services just as they have until now, and the direction further negotiations will take is yet to be seen. There will be procedures to explain to citizens what the futre will look like after Brexit and we want to let them know that we do care about everyone.

At this point there are two possible Brexit scenarios, "Brexit with an agreement" and "Brexit without an agreement", and whatever option is accepted will affect what will happen on March the 29th...

Yes, the British Government is absolutely devoted, with all of its efforts, to reach an agreement. How exactly this arrangement will look remains to be seen. However, it is crystal clear to the government that reaching an agreement is the best way to leave [the EU].

Also, we as the government are highly responsible, which means that we have to prepare for this second scenario [No Deal Brexit] that we wouldn't want, but which could happen. That's why we want to reassure Croatian citizens living in the UK that they don't have to worry if Britain does leave without a deal, because the [British] Government has taken measures to reassure them that they do care about them.

Agreement or not, how will Brexit affect your role as [UK] Ambassador?

Of course, it's already influenced my ambassador's role. I was all set to be the ambassador before the referendum was actually held, I actually arrived in Zagreb three weeks after the referendum. Of course, that means all my preparations changed overnight. But Brexit is real and we've got to face it.

Relations between Great Britain and Croatia have lasted longer outside the European Union than they have within it. Brexit will certainly be a challenge because many of the questions related to our two peoples are being solved at a table in Brussels.

Since we [Britain] will not be sitting at the table in Brussels again, we will make even more of an effort in the future to get London and Zagreb to directly negotiate, more than we did before, so there's a chance there.

How are the negotiations with the Croatian Government progressing, if an agreement [between the UK and the EU] is not reached, and what about the rights of British nationals in Croatia?

Prime Minister May was very clear at the very beginning of negotiations that the [British] Government would take care of the rights of European Union citizens in the UK after March the 29th, so we hope that other [EU] Member States will act in the same way.

The European Commission has stated that it hopes that, after Brexit, all EU member states will be ''generous'' and offer British citizens good conditions, however, each of them will do so in their own way. Discussions are being conducted not only with Croatia, but with other EU member states. Of course, the Croatian Government, as well as the British Government, is hoping for a scenario in which the UK withdraws from the EU with a deal.

It's very important to point out that in the case of a No Deal Brexit, there are many technical questions that require answers, some of which are what it will mean to be a legal citizen (resident) here, to gaining the right to health care, and many other issues.

All of this requires very demanding preparation and this is what we're doing at this moment with the Croatian Government.

Do you think Croatian tourism will suffer a sort of shock after Brexit?

"There is no intent on either side of causing problems in people's lives, going on holiday is a natural thing that people need. No government in these negotiations has said that obstacles should be put in place in order to make things for the tourist industry more difficult in the future. Of course, if there's an agreement, then every side and every country knows where their place is.

In the event of a No Deal Brexit, we must take care to resolve all of the technical issues and that the British [continue to] come to Croatia on holiday, which is the intention of both Croatia and the UK. I don't see the probability of any problem, as long as we're all doing our jobs in the meantime.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know about Brexit and Croatia and what might alter for you by following our dedicated politics page.

 

Click here for the original article by Mark Thomas on Slododna Dalmacija

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Croatian Government to Propose New Divisions of Croatian Regions

The proposal, according to Goran Pauk, will contribute to increasing the quality of life in Croatia's counties and increasing the withdrawal of European Union money. The Croatian Government will soon offer the proposal to Brussels.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of January, 2019, the Croatian Government will submit a proposal for a new division of Croatia's regions to Brussels on the 24th of January this year, in which the current division into two regions will be replaced by a new ''map'' with four divisions.

The existing model was set up back in 2012, with seven coastal counties included in the Adriatic, while thirteen counties and the City of Zagreb are united as continental Croatia. From the very outset, the main weakness of this form of division was showcased by the Croatian capital, the only one with more than 100 percent of development according to the EU average, which unintentionally yet severely limited the potential of withdrawing and using European Union funds in other continental counties.

As in the meantime the number of inhabitants of Zagreb exceeded 800,000, a study was carried out, in which the Institute for development and international relations was engaged. Of the nine analysed divisions, it was determined that it would be best to distinguish Zagreb as a separate region. Adriatic Croatia remains the same, while Northern Croatia would be consist of Krapina-Zagorje, Međimurje and Koprivnica-Križevci counties. Central and Eastern Croatia would be made up of the Slavonian counties plus Bjelovar-Bilogora, Karlovac, Sisak-Moslavina, with the option of Bjelovar-Bilogora also being part of Northern Croatia.

While the Croatian Government will of course be the official body which sends the final proposal, the decisions will be made by the involved counties themselves next week, but in any case, the new divisions, like the other continental ones, will see many counties enjoy far better positions and a greater degree of regional support than the current divisions have. In the counties of Eastern Croatia, and in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac, the level of regional aid would increase by 25 percent with this new model when compared to the present situation.

Those in the northwest would be entitled to a 10 percent increase in regional aid while Adriatic Croatia would remain nominally at its current level, but in reality things would also increase there, too. By having Zagreb as one region, the level of compulsory national co-financing on its territory would come up to 60 percent instead of the current 30 percent.

It has been estimated that the Croatian Government's new proposal will certainly contribute to increasing the quality of life in all of Croatia's counties, as well as increase the withdrawal of cash from EU funds. Positive effects will be especially felt by Croatian entrepreneurs in the counties of continental Croatia, because they will be able to receive more support from the available funds.

Keep up with what the Croatian Government's next moves are and much more by following our dedicated politics page.

 

Click here for the original article by Marija Brnic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Zagreb Company Obtains Handsome Contract from Brussels

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of December, 2018, Eccos, a Zagreb company, has recently received a very valuable contract in Brussels worth about four million euros with the European Commission.

More specifically, according to Krešimir Paić and Silvio Pregelj, the directors and co-owners of Eccos, what we're talking about here is a four-year agreement on the improvement and maintenance of electronic and electromechanical control systems for both human and vehicle access to all eighty of the European Commission's facilities in Brussels. This includes the headquarters of the European Union where all major events take place and the key decisions that decide ''our destiny" regularly occur.

"We're proud of the fact that we recently managed to win in the strongest European tender and that we managed to conclude a four-year contract with the European Commission.

This job is the crown of our efforts to bring Croatian savvy, knowledge and experience to the European Union, under the Croatian name and the Croatian flag, and not just as cooperators of large foreign companies. When it comes to foreign markets, we intend to do more work on integrated value-added electrical engineering in the form of our software and project solutions, since we have enough knowledge, quality, experience and will,'' Paić said.

From the Zagreb company itself, they acknowledge that their decision to bid to the EU tender happened quite randomly, as their business activities are mostly related to Croatia and the wider region. Namely, this job is indirectly being credited to the negative trend of Croatian labour force departure to Western Europe. Recently, they admitted, a colleague who sought a future in a similar company in Belgium recently left the company.

As we remained in a good relationship, we continued to socialise occasionally and in those gatherings we realised that they didn't really do anything better than us and that we ourselves could actually come out with their strength and knowledge in any tender in Europe.

Since Croatia is member of the EU, we decided to take advantage of this and we started to follow the tenders in the EU and one came up which was interesting to us, and in which we ultimately won,'' Krešimir Paić recalls.

He added that this is a project where all their knowledge and creativity will come to fruition, because ultimately, the exact value of the contract will depend on what the contracting authority can offer and actually go ahead and implement. Although it's a multi-million euro job, the Zagreb company says it's more valuable to them because of the references they will acquire through it, rather than simply because of the high value of the actual contract.

Eccos is engaged in the development and the implementation of sophisticated solutions in the field of electrical engineering, information technology and security.

This year, they celebrated their 20th anniversary, and currently have 115 employees, half of whom are graduate engineers, and their annual revenue is at the level of one hundred million kuna. Paić and Pregelj recall that their first jobs were installing alarms in family houses, and their first major job was at the Rijeka Oil Refinery, in which they were engaged in designing complex systems in the field of electrical engineering and technical protection.

Energy is still a significant sector for them and they have, along with an American partner, just developed a project for monitoring various pipelines (gas pipelines, etc) through which they're hoping to boost global interest.

Today, as they explain, there is hardly any company in Croatia with which this Zagreb company hasn't cooperated to some extent or another. Silvio Pregelj points out that they are particularly sought-after when a company wants to integrate more than one system into a complete solution.

"In the development of this system, we're striving to unify information from all peripheral devices and sensors, which are all the more smart. This information is collected through various algorithms and by using artificial intelligence, and in this way the behaviour of the system is adapted to the specific needs of its users. We're developing our own software and hardware solutions that are part of our projects (Epsimax, Orgman and ICMS). Today, our development team has about twenty engineers,'' says Preglej.

They have worked on such solutions in both IKEA department stores in the region, in Zagreb and in Belgrade, and there are almost no airports in this area in which they aren't present. They provide a range of electrical and information services, and they are probably the most recognisable publicly for their smart parking systems.

The product of this Zagreb company is also the systems that are being built in the capital and in a number of other cities across both Croatia and the region, and the latest product is the so called smart kiosk, which can already be seen in the centre of Zagreb.

"The new car parking metres in Zagreb are smart kiosks that, besides dealing with parking charges, also provide information to tourists on the sales of other city services, items etc. We have the strongest partners in the world, and we're complementing our solutions with the Eccos Smart City Entablation Platform, which brings together all the participants involved in the process and offers full and complete reporting,'' says Preglej.

Like most other companies, Eccos say they have noticed a lack of workforce, with particular issues regarding successfully attracting young engineers, but for now at least, the situation for this Zagreb company is not alarming.

"We retain people in the team by fostering quality and open relationships, investing in education, the ability to progress in line with the results achieved and by stimulating quality work and effort.

We offer our people the opportunity to participate in sophisticated projects in Croatia, in the countries of the region, and in the European Union, and to expand their knowledge in software development, the hardware, implementation of complex engineering solutions, project management, and all other aspects of our activities,'' says Krešimir Paić.

For now, the company has a head office in Zagreb and Sarajevo, with offices in Split and Dubrovnik, and the opening of an office in Brussels is underway. Their intent is to become more and more present in western Europe and that the existing ratio of domestic market revenues and exports of 80 to 20 will change in the coming period. In that light, there is no exclusion of the opening of new offices in Europe for this successful Zagreb company.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as on the investment and business climate in Croatia.

If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, stay up to date with Total Zagreb.

 

Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 5 October 2018

Zadar to Play Important Role for New Program, Air Force Helicopters

Zadar is set to play an extremely important defense role, with operations expected to begin next year.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Šibenik Klapa Impresses European Parliament

Brussels gets to hear the sounds of Šibenik.

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