Tuesday, 3 August 2021

HRW, AI And Other NGOs Criticise Croatian Border Monitoring Mechanism

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and six other NGOs on Tuesday criticised the new Croatian border monitoring mechanism, expressing concern about the body's independence and efficiency.

Recent media reports and official statements about the newly established border monitoring mechanism raise serious concerns, especially over the body's mandate, efficiency and independence, Amnesty International, Are You Syrious, the Centre for Peace Studies, the Danish Refugee Council, Human Rights Watch, the International Rescue Committee, Refugee Rights Europe and Save the Children said in a joint press release.

The Croatian government announced that the negotiations on the mechanism have concluded, but has not publicly disclosed further details about its structure or functioning, according to the press release.

The independent mechanism should monitor the treatment of illegal migrants by police officers, following several reports by NGOs of violations of migrants' rights at the border, which the Croatian government denies. The establishment of the mechanism was earlier proposed by the European Commission.

"Any border monitoring mechanism should be independent in law and practice and have sufficient resources and a robust mandate to monitor border-related operations anywhere on the territory of a state," the NGOs said.

The source of contention is the fact that according to the NGOs, the mechanism's mandate would be limited to police stations near the border and border crossings, while most contentious actions of the Croatian authorities take place further away from them, the press release says.

The objection also referred to the involvement of other institutions and organisations.

"To ensure that the mechanism is credible and effective, it needs to involve independent institutions or organisations that have monitoring experience – such as civil society organisations, United Nations agencies, and national human rights institutions – that are not financially dependent on the government;" they said, adding that any mechanisms that do not meet such standards could undermine the European Commission's efforts to end violence on the Union's external borders.

"The Commission should actively review and assess the mechanism to ensure that Croatian authorities put in place a system that can credibly monitor compliance with EU law in border operations and should provide political and financial support only to a system that meets the above standards," the NGOs said.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Green-Left Bloc, Homeland Movement Criticise National Recovery Plan

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - MP Sandra Benčić of the green-left bloc said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was "lying that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan is completed," adding that it was an unambitious and incompetent programme which recycled 20-year-old reforms and projects.

Speaking to the press, Benčić said that MPs, who are due to debate the document on Wednesday, received only its summary because experts were still fine-tuning it.

She said the plan contained no links between investment in innovation and investment in the economy.

"The lack of ambition and incompetence of this programme is extremely worrying," Benčić said, adding that the plan would not help the economy and society to either recover or become more resilient to either climate change or other challenges of the 21st century.

Homeland Movement: Plan shows government has no daring for brave decisions

The whip of the Homeland Movement party, Stjepo Bartulica, said the summary of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan showed that the government lacked the daring for brave decisions and that Plenković had once again failed to adopt a serious strategy.

Bartulica said he saw no willingness for structural reforms and that the plan should have given more consideration to the demands and remarks by the enterprise sector as it was the one creating added value.

He said the plan also reflected no will to reform the health system, adding that the problem in healthcare was not doctors' expertise but how the system was managed and the monopoly of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

Speaking of totalitarian symbols, Bartulica said either all should be outlawed, including those of "communism and the totalitarian Yugoslavia," or that they be allowed as free speech.

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Friday, 9 April 2021

The Voice of Entrepreneurs Association: Proposed National Recovery Plan Will Destroy Chance of Recovery

ZAGREB, 9 April, 2021 - The Voice of Entrepreneurs association considers that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, as proposed by the government, will destroy the chances for economic recovery, and calls for a radical change in the document.

In order for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to have a greater impact, priority should be given to investments in the private sector, the association said in a statement issued on Friday.

Entrepreneurs think that the plan will not direct enough funds to small and medium-sized enterprises and that that will have a negative impact on the entire economy.

Unlike other countries, they add, Croatia does not intend to direct most of the funds from the recovery plan to the business sector and the most affected companies, sectors and citizens.

The current recovery and resilience plan relies mainly on state and local government projects and projects with low and long-term returns, and in some cases negative returns, which is contrary to the general goal of rapid recovery, the association said.

It is true, they add, that the plan envisages distributing 54% of the funds for the business sector and 46% for reforms in the public sector, but the 54% intended for the business sector includes investments in public companies that have so far demonstrated low efficiency, such as wastewater projects, waste management, road and transport infrastructure construction.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan is thus not aimed at helping the private sector and encouraging the competitiveness of the Croatian economy, the association of entrepreneurs said, stressing that the existing plan is not oriented towards rapid recovery of domestic demand, investment in high return projects and technological innovation.

They call for prioritising private sector investment and focusing on high return projects.

Last week, the government presented the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for 2021-2026, which contains project proposals in six areas, worth a total of HRK 49.08 billion.

Of that, 54% is intended for projects in the business sector, 15% for education, science and research, 12% for building reconstruction, 10% for public administration and justice, 5% for health care and 4% for the labour market and social protection.

Digitisation and green energy transition feature in all six areas in the document.

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