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.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Šibenik Students Sing in Brussels!

The Belgian capital gets a taste of Dalmatia.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Minister Tolušić Presents More Than 60 Croatian Products in Brussels

Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić gives the Belgian capital a taste of Croatia.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Legends of the Light: Croatian Lighthouses to be Presented at European Parliament

March 19, 2018 - A documentary film about Croatian lighthouses will make its European debut

Friday, 19 January 2018

St. Blaise in Brussels: Dubrovnik's Saint to be Celebrated in Belgium in 2018

Sveti Vlaho takes a short trip to... Brussels!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Croatia Gains Momentum on Path to Schengen!

Croatia's entry into Schengen is looking ever closer...

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