Monday, 28 October 2019

MOST Accuses Government of Failing to Tackle Depopulation

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - The leader of the opposition MOST party, Božo Petrov, said on Monday that emigration was the biggest challenge faced by Croatia since its accession to the European Union, and criticised the incumbent government for failing to seriously tackle the issue.

Petrov accused the government of taking only cosmetic measures in a bid to halt the depopulation trend.

"There are no concrete, serious moves to address the challenge of emigration," Petrov told a news conference in Zagreb on Monday.

He accused the government of failing to adopt a demographic strategy to alleviate the effects of the population decline.

Petra Mandić, a Rijeka councillor from this party, presented MOST's proposal that the minimum amount of monthly allowance during parental leave should be 3,991 kuna instead of the current minimum of 2,328 kuna.

MOST is in favour of introducing a monthly allowance of 135 kuna for parents with one child and of 2,000 kluna and more for parents with three children, depending on their income.

More MOST news can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Croatia's Population Stands at Slightly over 4 Million

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - According to a population estimate made by the national statistical office (DZS), Croatia had 4,087,843 residents in the mid-2018, which was a decrease of 0.9%, or by 36,688 fewer residents, compared to the estimate for the year before.

All counties, but the City of Zagreb and Istria, experienced the downsizing of the population.

In mid-2018 the Croatian capital registered an increase by 0.22% and the County of Istria a rise of 0.26% in population.

The biggest decline of 3.04% was registered in Vukovar-Srijem County.

Broken down by gender, men accounted for 48.3% of the total population and women for 51.7%.

Apart from a decline, Croatia is also faced with the aging population.

The age group to 19 years accounted for 19.6 % of the total population.

The lowest share of the youngest age cohort is in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, 16.6%, and the highest, 22% in Međimurje County.

The share of the fertility contingent in the total female population in 2018 fell to 41.5%.

More demographic news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

More Births in 2018, But Population Still Decreasing

ZAGREB, July 20, 2019 - The Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS) has released data on the natural change in population in Croatia in 2018 indicating that the number of births had increased while there were fewer deaths, but the natural increase rate remained negative, even in Zagreb.

"In 2018, as compared to the previous year, an increase of 1.1% was recorded in the number of live births, that is, 389 more children were born than in 2017, 51.6% were boys and 48.4% were girls," DZS said on its web site.

The number of deaths decreased by 1.4%, with 49.3% being men and 50.7% were women.

The natural increase rate in 2018 was negative at -3.9 or 15,761 fewer people as measured by the number of live births per 100 deaths.

The negative population growth decreased from the all time record of -4.1% in 2017 to -3.9% in 2018.

In 2018, there were 19,921 marriages. The marriage rate (marriages per 1,000 inhabitants) in 2018 was 4.9. At the same time, there were 6,125 divorces. There were fewer marriages and divorces in 2018 compared with 2017.

More demography news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Record Number of Croatian Citizens Living in Germany

ZAGREB, July 16, 2019 - Germany's population rose by over 400,000 in 2018 as a result of immigration and Croatian citizens, numbering 29,000, were the second largest group of immigrants from the EU last year after Romanians, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany said on Tuesday.

A total of 1.58 million people moved to Germany in 2018, while 1.18 million moved out so that, as a result of migration, about 400,000 more people lived there at the end of 2018 than at the beginning of the year, the office said in a press release.

In 2018, 57,724 Croatian citizens arrived in Germany, while 28,869 departed, so the number of Croatian citizens living there increased by 28,855 to 395,665.

At the end of 2017, 367,900 Croatian citizens lived in Germany, 27,765 fewer than a year later. At the end of 2016, 332,605 Croatian citizens lived there, 35,295 fewer than a year later.

Since 2010, when 220,199 Croats lived in Germany, the number of German residents holding Croatian citizenship rose by 175,466.

Also, 158,595 Croatian citizens have been living in Germany over 25 years, 113,760 stay from one to four years and 34,960 stay there less than a year.

In 2018, Germany recorded the largest number of EU immigrants from Romania (68,000), followed by Croatia (29,000) and Bulgaria (27,000). Last year 22,749 Bosnian citizens arrived in Germany and 10,331 departed.

Eighty-seven percent of last year's immigrants to Germany were foreigners, while the rest were Germans who moved back after living abroad.

More emigration news can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Demographic Challenge Is Key for Survival of Croatian Nation

ZAGREB, July 15, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Dubrovnik on Monday the demographic challenge was crucial for the survival of the Croatian nation, adding that the government's measures had resulted in 400 more newborns in 2018 than in 2017.

Croatia is faced with negative demographic trends, he said at the international conference "Demographics, Jobs and Growth: Navigating the Future in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe", co-organised by the Croatian National Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

In 1950, Croatia had 100,000 births and 50,000 deaths, whereas now there are 37,000 births and 51,000 deaths, Plenković said.

In order to tackle the demographic challenge, the government has raised parental benefits and the goal is that by mid-2020 they rise 110% from 2017, he said. More than 200 EU-funded contracts for building kindergartens have been signed, and 5,300 housing loan subsidies were approved in 2017 and 2018, so 20,000 families are expected to have new homes by next year, he added.

"Some negative trends are changing, so in 2018 there were 400 more newborns than the year before. A small step forward, but it nonetheless indicates that trends are slowly changing."

Plenković said mothers would receive full salaries for a full year of maternity leave, fathers would get at least ten paid leave days and parents would be enabled to work from home. "We are confident that our efforts to reverse the demographic trends will yield results and that positive demographic trends will follow."

He went on to say that at the Croatian government's initiative, demographic challenges were included in the EU's strategic programme for the next five years. He said this would provide an opportunity for helping what was being done nationally through European policies and funds.

Responding to questions from the press, Plenković said IMF representatives acknowledged the government's achievements, such as lower unemployment, higher employment, active employment measures, economic growth, and exits from the excessive macroeconomic imbalances and excessive budget deficit procedures.

Those achievements also include the restoration of Croatia's investment credit rating, fiscal consolidation, investments, structural reforms in education, pensions, taxes, the judiciary and public administration, a more even regional development, digitisation and catching up with the fourth industrial revolution, he added.

"All that is a package that will give answers to demographic policy questions," Plenković said, adding that a change of mentality was also needed.

As for the labour shortage and the import of workers, he recalled that Croatian citizens could work in 26 EU member states without permits and quotas, saying that too was impacting demography.

He recalled that late last year Croatia adopted a decision on the hiring of 65,000 foreign workers based on industry demands. If we want to move forward, we must have people working in various industries, he said, adding that any EU citizen could come to work in Croatia.

Plenković said the government wanted to activate as many registered jobless as possible, adding that everyone willing to work could get a job. "It's also our goal for the pay for that job to be adequate and in that way to raise their living standards and our economy."

More news about demography can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Eurostat: Croatia Had 4,076,200 Inhabitants on 1 January 2019

ZAGREB, July 14, 2019 - On 1 January 2019, Croatia had 4,076,200 inhabitants, 29,300 fewer than a year before and is among the European Union countries with the highest population decreases, Eurostat said earlier this week.

The largest population decrease was recorded in Latvia (-7.5‰), followed by Bulgaria and Croatia (both -7.1‰), Romania (-6.6‰) and Lithuania (-5.3‰).

In 2018, the population increased in 18 member states and decreased in ten.

On 1 January 2019, the population of the EU was estimated at almost 513.5 million, compared with 512.4 million on 1 January 2018. During 2018, more deaths than births were recorded in the EU (5.3 million deaths and 5 million births). The population change (positive, with 1.1 million more inhabitants) was due to net migration.

During 2018, five million babies were born in the EU, almost 118,000 fewer than the previous year. The highest birth rates were recorded in Ireland (12.5 per 1,000 residents), Sweden (11.4‰), France (11.3‰) and the United Kingdom (11.0‰), while the lowest were registered in Italy (7.3‰), Spain (7.9‰), Greece (8.1‰), Portugal (8.5‰), Finland (8.6‰), Bulgaria (8.9‰) and Croatia (9.0‰).

At EU level, the crude birth rate was 9.7 per 1,000 residents.

In the meantime, 5.3 million deaths were registered, almost 46,000 more than the previous year. Ireland (6.4 per 1,000 residents), Cyprus (6.6‰) and Luxembourg (7.1‰) had in 2018 the lowest crude death rates, followed by Malta (7.6‰), the Netherlands (8.9‰), Spain and Sweden (both 9.1‰).

At the opposite end of the scale, Bulgaria (15.4‰), Latvia (15.0‰), Lithuania (14.1‰), Romania (13.5‰) and Hungary (13.4‰) recorded the highest.

Consequently, Ireland (with a natural change of its population of +6.1‰) remained in 2018 the member state where births most outnumbered deaths, ahead of Cyprus (+4.1‰), Luxembourg (+3.2‰), Sweden (+2.3‰), and France (+2.2‰).

In contrast, among the 15 member states which registered a negative natural change in 2018, deaths outnumbered births the most in Bulgaria (-6.6‰), followed by Latvia (-4.9‰), Lithuania (-4.1‰), Croatia, Hungary and Romania (all -3.9‰).

With 83 million residents, Germany is the most populated member state, ahead of France (67 million), the United Kingdom (66.6 million, Italy (60.4 million), Spain (46.9 million) and Poland (38.0 million.

Malta is the least populated member state (493,600), followed by Luxembourg (613,900) and Cyprus (875,900).

More demographic news can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Polycentric Development Crucial for Demographic Revival

ZAGREB, June 1, 2019 - Osijek-Baranja County observed its day on Saturday, with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović saying at a County Assembly session in Osijek that an even and polycentric development of Croatia was crucial for the demographic revival of the Slavonia region and all of Croatia, and that in the autumn her task force would present measures for fiscal and functional decentralisation and well as a more even regional development.

The president said Osijek-Baranja County had made noticeable progress in its development and that the government's Slavonia-Baranja-Srijem project was having a good and have an even better impact.

She said it was necessary to intensify agricultural development efforts, and that a resolute and swift state as well as local intervention was necessary to stop emigration.

The president said it was excellent news that GDP went up 3.9% in Q1 as it would facilitate debt servicing and real growth, and that it was even better news that the growth was based not just on consumption, but production and exports as well.

She voiced hope that investment and exports would help GDP growth to reach 5%, which she said was feasible, provided there is more unity, organisation and determination to effect change.

We must work fast as time is not on our side, the president said, adding that politics must facilitate work, education, creativity, enterprise, democracy and access to foreign markets.

Addressing young people who are not emigrating but "building successful enterprise and life stories," she said "We need your enthusiasm and optimism. To those who left, I wish to say that coming back does not mean failure. On the contrary, bring us your experience, be the creators of progress."

The prime minister's envoy, Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić, said the government earmarked 19 billion kuna for the Slavonia-Baranja-Srijem project.

He said Osijek-Baranja Country had absorbed 1.5 billion kuna in Rural Development Programme funds over the past three years, and that over 250 projects were being drawn up to increase the competitiveness of its agriculture.

Prefect Ivan Anušić said the projects launched in the county were worth nearly 3 billion kuna and that the bulk of the money came from EU funds and in cooperation with the government. They include energy-efficient buildings, irrigation, a new hospital, new buildings, two new schools and a regional fruit and vegetable distribution centre.

More Slavonia news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Maternity Leave Allowance Increased to 5,600 Kuna

ZAGREB, May 10, 2019 - Maternity leave allowance for the second six months will as of 1 April 2020 be increased from the current 3,990 kuna to 5,600 kuna, Minister of Demography, the Family, Youth and Social Policy Nada Murganić announced on Friday after presenting new population measures for 2019 at a meeting of the Council for Demographic Revitalisation.

Murganić underlined that this is the second time maternity allowances were being increased and that they have increased by 110% and will apply to between 60% and 65% of beneficiaries.

"That is one of the most significant measures, a measure that has been very well accepted by the public already with the first increase and will certainly resound well again now," the minister told a press conference.

She underscored that strengthening material status with these allowances is extremely important for young families and recalled that last year a law was adopted on child allowance and that the threshold had been raised so that a larger number of beneficiaries were eligible for child allowance.

"When we add everything, we have done for new kindergartens to be built and improving conditions in child care centres by signing contracts for the construction of 200 new kindergartens to be financed from EU funds, then we can say that we have laid sound foundations for people to balance their working and family life.

Murganić said that the Council had decided that as of the next school year a pilot programme would be introduced for after-school programmes in schools that currently do not provide this service and that 70 million kuna had been secured for this purpose.

More news about demographic issues can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Plenković Raises Issue of Demographic Revival at EU Summit

ZAGREB, May 10, 2019 - Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday attended a summit of 27 EU leaders in Sibiu, Romania, and raised the issue of EU support for countries that have a negative population growth, with Croatia being one of them.

"There are seven or eight member states that have a negative population growth and Croatia is one of them. The strategic agenda for the coming period, whose draft was discussed at the summit, contains a section that is related to employment, social justice and social measures. In that context, we suggested that in further elaborating (the agenda) one should take into account possible support at the EU level for the process of demographic revitalisation as a measure complementary to those being undertaken at the national level," Plenković told reporters after the summit.

He added that his proposal was well received. "When you present numbers and explain what is going on, everyone understands the situation. I think that we will slowly create a circle of countries that are in that category and that is why it is good that we had time for further elaboration in a somewhat less formal environment," Plenković said.

All new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe have a negative population growth while four are experiencing stagnation, with the same number of births and deaths. Croatia loses a town the size of Makarska each year with the difference between births and deaths.

The leaders of the EU's 27 member states adopted at their informal summit in Sibiu a declaration that underlines their joint commitment to maintaining the unity of the bloc and upholding its principles of democracy, the rule of law and equity, and to protecting their citizens.

More news about Croatia’s demographic and emigration crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 29 April 2019

MOST Seeks Compensation from EU for Emigration

ZAGREB, April 29, 2019 - Candidates of the opposition MOST party running in the May 26 election for the European Parliament said on Monday that if elected, they would ask that the mass-scale emigration from Croatia be taken into account in the allocation of money from EU funds and that they would seek compensation.

"MOST wants mass-scale emigration from some EU countries to be taken as a criterion in fund allocation so that the EU can develop evenly," MOST leader Božo Petrov told a news conference.

He stressed that Croatia would never be able to achieve the same level of development as the more developed EU countries and that the gap would grow if the mass-scale emigration of educated people was not taken into account.

"We cannot accept to be the periphery of Europe that produces highly qualified personnel for other, more developed countries," he said.

MOST proposes several solutions to the problem, including allocating more money for new EU members from Horizon Europe programme, totalling 96 billion euro, or setting aside more funding for less developed members through the European Research Council.

There can be no economic growth and development without highly qualified personnel, and so far close to 500,000 people have left Croatia, Petrov said, calling on citizens to vote in the coming European elections and punish "the incompetence, negligence and lack of professionalism of those who have managed money from EU funds so far and give a chance to those who fight for Croatia's interests."

More news about European election can be found in the Politics section.

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