Saturday, 1 February 2020

Croatia Regrets Brexit, But Says EU Remains Strong

ZAGREB, February 1, 2020 - Croatia regrets the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union (Brexit), but the Union remains strong even without it, the Croatian government said in a statement on Friday, the last day of the UK's EU membership.

While regretting the departure of one member state from our European family, "we are heartened by the reinforced unity that the 27 of us have demonstrated in the past three years," the statement said.

"The European Union will be smaller in numbers, but remains strong and unified as ever," it added.

Croatia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, sees Brexit as an opportunity for "an ambitious and long-lasting" new partnership with the UK, the first country to leave the bloc.

"The UK’s departure from the EU is also a new beginning in our relationship. Both as the Council Presidency and bilaterally, Croatia remains determined to invest all its efforts to keep the United Kingdom as one of our closest partners," the Croatian government said.

Zagreb believes that efforts should be made during the transitional period until the end of the year to facilitate the transition for citizens and businesses on both sides.

"Croatia highly appreciates the hitherto tireless work of EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his team. They have our full support and confidence in the forthcoming negotiations about the future relationship with the United Kingdom as well," the statement said.

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit Won't Affect Tourist Travel Between Croatia and Britain

ZAGREB, January 30, 2020 - Brexit will not affect tourist travel from Croatia to Great Britain this year, or vice versa, and anyone who has made a booking or plans to travel can do so with their ID cards for the time being, while future arrangements will depend on agreements with the EU, the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) said on Thursday.

The HTZ said that the positive trend in physical tourism turnover from the British market continued this year. Data from the eVisitor system shows that 1,750 tourists have come to Croatia from Britain so far in January and generated 5,500 nights, which is an increase of 2% and 7% respectively compared with January 2019.

In 2019 there were 897,500 tourists from the UK who generated 4.6 million nights, which was an increase of 4.2% and 3.4% respectively compared with 2018.

Informing local tourists who wish to visit Great Britain that there is no need for concern due to Brexit, which enters into force on January 31, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli underscored that the current system of visa and passport free travel will continue.

"Great Britain is formally leaving the EU but in principle there will be no changes for the tourism or travel sector. What is more, we already have good announcements from Great Britain regarding tourists to Croatia for this year and some tour operators and airlines like and others, expect an even greater increase of trips to Croatia compared to last year and they are very optimistic," Cappelli said.

"The uncertainty regarding Brexit in 2019 had a greater impact on tourist plans than it will have this year and now that Brexit is here. Last year was uncertain ... because we did not know whether Great Britain would leave the EU or not. However, despite that, in Croatia and in many other countries around the world there were more tourists than in 2018," the director of the Croatian Tourism Association (HUT) Veljko Ostojić said.

As there is no indication that anything dramatic will occur with Brexit and everyone believes that the separation between Great Britain and the EU will be civilised and without any problems for the transit of people and commodities, Ostojić does not expect any problems in the tourism business and cooperation on long-term contracts with local hoteliers and other British partners.

"The only thing is that there was a little bit of fear regarding the exchange rate for the pound because at one stage it dropped and that was immediately reflected on bookings. However, more recently there has not been any significant change and we think that if there are no further negative occurrences with the exchange rate, this year we can expect good results from Great Britain. I think that the exchange rate for the pound is key because if it drops 10% then that is already a grave scenario, but also if it increases, which has been announced and could be possible, then that will be good for Croatia's tourism," concluded Ostojić.

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Croatians in UK Needn't Worry after Brexit

ZAGREB, January 24, 2020 - Croatians living in the United Kingdom do not have to worry because there will be no significant changes after Brexit on January 31, British Minister for Europe Christopher Pincher told Hina in an interview.

Pincher expects that the current EU president Croatia, with its enthusiasm and innovation, will help London accomplish its ambitious plan and reach an agreement with Brussels on their future relationship. He said that Brexit is just an institutional divorce from the EU and that the UK will strengthen bilateral relations with EU member states, including Croatia.

About 6,000 Croatians work or study in the UK, mostly in London, and 600 Britons live in Croatia. About 900,000 British tourists visit Croatia every year.

"Croatians living in Britain can feel absolutely secure. London is your home and will remain your home," Pincher said.

"I don't think you'll see any significant changes at all. We want to make sure that those people who live and work in the UK and they're EU nationals feel at home, as much as on the 1st of February as they do today," he added.

Pincher met Croatian officials in Zagreb on Thursday to discuss the Croatian EU presidency plan.

The UK is leaving the EU on 31 January, more than three and a half years after 52 percent of its citizens voted in a referendum in favour of leaving the bloc, which it joined in 1973. It will remain subject to EU rules until the end of 2020 as part of a transition period agreed to alleviate Brexit.

If they choose to stay in the UK, EU citizens need to apply for settled status by the end of June 2021. Some 2.7 million out of about 3 million EU citizens had done so by the end of last year, and only two applications were turned down because of the applicants' criminal past.

Those granted settled status will be issued not a physical but a digital document proving their right to stay in the UK. Pincher says there are two reasons for that. "If you're given a digital document, it can never be lost. And the other reason is that ID is not part of our culture," the minister said, recalling that the UK abolished ID cards in 1952.

Permanent residence applications are filled in online and are free of charge. The UK government invested GBP 9 million in communication with EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK.

Along with the new Multiannual Finance Framework and EU enlargement, Brexit is one of the main challenges facing the presidency of the Council of the European Union, which Croatia took over on 1 January.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is confident that an agreement on all aspects of future cooperation with the Union can be concluded by the end of 2020, which Brussels considers questionable. Pincher, however, insists that the end of the year is a realistic deadline and that the newest EU member can play an important role in it.

"Can we do it? Yes, of course, we can, with the help of Croatia, with its enthusiasm and innovation, we can do it," Pincher said. "Where there's a will, there's a way. If we use the momentum that we have built over the past few months and use the skills of the negotiation teams, then yes, we can get the deal done by the end of 2020."

Pincher mentioned the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada as a model for future UK-EU trade relations, while also emphasising the importance of overall cooperation with the Union and with member states individually.

Bilateral relations with Croatia remain strong and will be even stronger, notably in multilateral organisations such as the UN, NATO, OSCE and the Council of Europe, Pincher said. This also includes cooperation in security, education, economy and environmental protection, he added.

We are leaving an institution, not Europe. That is the message we wish to emphasise, Pincher concluded.

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 10 January 2020

EC President Warns Britain Can't Have It All After Brexit

ZAGREB, January 10, 2020 - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned Great Britain that it could not have it all in negotiations on future relations with the EU after Brexit and that it had to decide how close it wanted to stay to the EU, which it will leave on January 31.

We were clear regarding access to the common European market - it is not the same if you are a member or not, the EC president said at a news conference in Zagreb.

We want to stay good friends, neighbours and partners but we must find a good balance between divergence and close relations with the single market, she added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is confident that the agreement on all aspects of future cooperation with the EU can be concluded by the end of 2020, which EU officials consider unrealistic.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that nothing would change for Croatian citizens on January 31. "You will be able to enter Great Britain as you have so far," said the PM of Croatia, the EU chair since January 1.

Along with Brexit, an important topic during Croatia's EU presidency will also be talks on the new European budget. "We will do our best to find a balance between rural development and cohesion on one side and modernisation on the other," said Plenković.

The older EU members, which are net contributors to the EU budget, want it to be more modest while the younger members insist on maintaining funding for the cohesion and agriculture policies.

Balance must also be found between EU bodies as the European Parliament calls for a more ambitious budget while the prime ministers of European Council members want a more conservative budget.

With Great Britain's departure, Europe will lose around €60 billion from its cash register, and the new financial perspective for the 2021-2027 period will have to take account of new European priorities such as climate change, the digital agenda and illegal migrations.

Von der Leyen and Plenković addressed reporters after a joint session of the EC and the EU chair's government, which is a tradition at the start of every rotating EU presidency.

More news about Croatia and the Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Plenković, Varadkar Talk Brexit, Croatia's Role as EU Chair

ZAGREB, November 22, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar met in Zagreb on Thursday and talked about Brexit, which could happen during Croatia's EU presidency in the first half of 2020, and preparations for negotiations on future UK-EU relations.

We are confident that Croatia will do an excellent job as EU chair, Varadkar said.

Croatia is taking over the presidency at the beginning of 2020, in the year when Brexit could really happen, he added. Britons are going to the polls on December 12 and if incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson wins, Varadkar expects the deal to be ratified soon.

Whoever becomes prime minister and forms the government, we will gladly sit down, listen and work with them, he said, adding that regardless of the election result, he could tell the Irish that there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Brexit doesn't end with the United Kingdom's exit from the EU but enters the next stage, negotiations on trade, security and political partnership with the UK, Varadkar said.

We expect the withdrawal agreement to be ratified soon and to launch negotiations on future relations, said Plenković. He recalled that if Brexit happened, the EU's Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier would become negotiator for future EU-UK relations.

The UK has been given another Brexit delay until January 31.

Plenković said that reaching an agreement on future relations by the end of 2020 was very ambitious but not impossible because "where there is a will, there is a way."

The two prime ministers also talked about the EU's 2021-27 budget, enlargement and EU membership prospects for Southeast European countries, which will also be the focus of Croatia's presidency.

The European budget should be appropriate and support long term successful policies, such as the cohesion policy as well as the common agricultural policy, which is very important for our rural communities, said Varadkar.

More news about relations between Croatia and Ireland can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Plenković, Barnier Discuss Brexit, Future EU-UK Relations

ZAGREB, November 20, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday held talks with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Great Britain's exit from the EU and future relations between Brussels and London, the government said in a statement.

Barnier informed Plenković of the latest developments regarding Brexit, and the two officials also discussed Croatia's role during its EU presidency regarding Brexit and future relations between the EU and the UK.

Plenković presented the priorities of Croatia's EU presidency, stressing that with regard to Brexit, maintaining legal security for citizens and companies in the EU and the UK was important to Croatia.

The two officials also discussed preparations for a summit of EU and Southeast European countries to be held in May 2020 in Zagreb. On the agenda of the summit will be the pace of development of future relations between the EU and Southeast European countries and their EU membership prospects.

Barnier is visiting Zagreb on the occasion of a congress of the European People's Party (EPP), which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday and at which Donald Tusk will be elected the new president of the biggest European political group.

More news about Croatia and the Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Brexit Won't Affect Priorities of Croatia's EU Presidency

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Monday that the extension of the time frame for the departure of Great Britain from the European Union (Brexit) would not affect the priorities which Croatia had set for its rotating presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020.

Earlier on Monday, the ambassadors of the EU member-states agreed to a Brexit extension to 31 January 2020, with the option for the UK to leave earlier if a deal is ratified, clearing the way for opposition parties to back a general election.

After the 30-minute ambassadorial meeting, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said the EU27 had agreed to the request made by Boris Johnson just over a week ago.

Addressing the press, the Croatian minister said that this changed nothing in Croatia's agenda.

During its chairmanship, Croatia "will deal with European affairs and follow the political developments in the UK," Grlić Radman said.

He recalled that "entry into the EU is not easy, and the departure is even more difficult", which was why "Croatian citizens should appreciate the EU membership more."

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Plenković Says Croatia Prepared for Brexit

ZAGREB, September 19, 2019 - During a discussion on the report which he submitted to the national legislature on Croatia's participation in the European Council's recent meetings, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wedneday evening that the country was ready for Brexit.

"We have adopted necessary laws to get Croatia prepared for Brexit," said the premier.

All relevant agencies and services have full information, and the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry provides Croatian citizens with all necessary information on this topic.

The available information is in the section "Brexit - General Information" on the ministry's website.

"For the Republic of Croatia, it is vital to preserve the rights of Croatian citizens in the UK, as well as the UK citizens in Croatia, and provide them with clarity regarding their future status. In case of a no deal-scenario, the UK leaving the EU without the agreement, the Croatian Government is currently undertaking all measures necessary for establishing the conditions of reciprocity in order to minimize the effect of withdrawal on citizens and business activities. The condition of reciprocity means that Croatian citizens in the UK would enjoy the same rights as the UK citizens in Croatia," the ministry says, noting that there are two possible scenarios of the UK's withdrawal from the EU: orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU, and disorderly withdrawal (“no-deal” Brexit).

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Croatia Expects an Orderly Brexit Despite "Chaotic Situation" in Britain

ZAGREB, September 4, 2019 - Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has said that despite "a chaotic situation" in Great Britain, he expects an orderly deal-based Brexit to happen.

"This chaotic situation in Great Britain is definitely not good, I am very sorry about that," the Croatian minister said on Wednesday ahead of an inner cabinet in Zagreb.

"I, nevertheless, expect an orderly Brexit that will not burden us," he said.

Grlić Radman stopped short of answering whether Croatia is bracing itself for a hard Brexit.

"We are conducting preparations for our (EU) presidency," the minister told the press.

On 1 January, Croatia assumes the six-month-long rotating chairmanship of the European Union.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a new challenge on Wednesday in the British parliament after his first vote as PM saw him lose to rebel Tories and opposition MPs who object to a no-deal exit.

The Commons voted 328 to 301 to take control of the agenda, allowing them to bring a bill requesting a Brexit delay. The PM is to call for a general election if he is forced to request an extension to the 31 October deadline, the BBC has reported.

"More than three years after the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the defeat leaves the course of Brexit unresolved, with possible outcomes still ranging from a turbulent ‘no-deal’ exit to abandoning the whole endeavour," the Reuters news agency notes.

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Ahead of Brexit, Dechra Moves Testing Operations to Croatia and Netherlands

ZAGREB, September 3, 2019 - Dechra Pharmaceuticals, a leading British veterinary medicine producer, stated on Monday that it shifted all the analytical testing methods for products made at its site in Skipton, England, to a new lab in Zagreb, and to its existing Bladel laboratory in the Netherlands, as part of the company's preparations for "a potential hard Brexit", Reuters has reported.

This British veterinary firm said that it changed the ownership of all UK marketing authorisations to a new unit in the Netherlands, also within its plans to make itself ready for a Brexit.

“This will allow us to perform batch release within the EU in the likely event that there will be no mutual recognition of quality standards,” Dechra said in a statement.

The Reuters news agency recalls that risks related to Brexit include Britain potentially leaving the EU without a deal.

Dechra did not disclose whether the new measures would impact jobs.

"The company reported a 27% increase in full-year underlying operating profit to 127.4 million pounds (156.41 million dollars) and hiked its full-year dividend by 24% to 31.6 pence," Reuters reported in the news article headlined "Dechra ramps up contingency plan for a potential hard Brexit".

In 2015, Dechra Pharmaceuticals bought a 63.3% interest in Croatia's Genera.

Dechra made that move because it wanted to enter the vaccine market. Genera is the oldest and largest manufacturer of animal health products in Croatia with a strong market share in its local market and neighbouring countries.

It operates three main divisions: Animal Health, which represents the majority of revenue, Agrochemicals and Human Pharmaceuticals.

Over the last few years, vaccines have become a key part of the Animal Health Division. Genera has invested significantly in building its poultry vaccines capabilities, including regulatory submissions in the EU and elsewhere.

More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.

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