Friday, 4 October 2019

Plenković Expects from Šuica Progress on Demography

ZAGREB, October 4, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday he expected the new European Commission, notably its Vice President Dubravka Šuica, to make progress that would help Croatia and other member states deal with demography issues.

Šuica, the Croatian candidate for Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, was given a positive assessment after a hearing in the European Parliament on Thursday during which she answered questions from members of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.

Speaking at a press conference, Plenković recalled that Šuica was nominated by the Croatian government and that her department was chosen by new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Democracy and demography are two very important topics for Croatia and all of Europe, he added.

This is the first time in the European project that a commissioner has been tasked with demography, a topic that "is especially important for us because of Croatia's negative birth rate" and a problem, he said, to which many other member states were not immune either.

He said it was especially important that Šuica was also one of the Commission's eight vice presidents. "I consider this to be a great success for Croatia, which is the youngest Union member. We have strengthened Croatia's position in the EU and the influence we have in the Union's institutions."

Asked if he had to attack the GONG NGO recently given that some MEPs at the hearing were not interested in the question of Šuica's declaration of assets, Plenković said he did not know who felt attacked but that it was telling that no one had raised the issue of Šuica's assets when she ran in European Parliament elections in 2013, 2014 and this year.

"This was a political wish to make this an outstanding issue now," he said, adding that Šuica had passed the hearing at the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee without a question mark.

He said the MEP who asked Šuica about her assets at Thursday's hearing was irrelevant. "He belongs to the group of those who don't belong to anyone."

More news about Dubravka Šuica can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Poreč and Novigrad Lead the Way, More Babies Born and More People Settling

As Novac/ writes on the 30th of July, 2019, with the increase in babies being born, more and more people are actually moving from elsewhere to Poreč.

"These developments are not and cannot be the result of simple one-off measures. These positive developments are, first and foremost, the result of a stable economic situation. Poreč, besides being the most developed city in Istria, is also one of the most developed in all of Croatia. Although it has only 20,000 inhabitants, Poreč's entrepreneurs have created 1,000 new, year-round jobs over the past four years alone. This is one of the main reasons why many young families choose Poreč as their place of residence. It is up to us, as the city, to ensure quality living conditions for all,'' says Poreč's mayor Loris Peršurić.

He adds that in two years, they have independently built two new elementary schools, so that all children can take classes in one, morning, shift. In addition, they are building a second kindergarten this year due to the increased demand for enrollment and a steady increase in the number of children attending the facilities, and a grant of 85 percent for that from the Ministry of Agriculture has been successfully obtained.

''The city distributes the largest types of scholarships in the country for students, it co-finances supplementary health insurance for all retirees and provides other benefits such as co-financed accommodation in the city's nursing home, provides the best standards in emergency medicine situations, has increased its benefit for first-born babies by 50 percent, and the social program is among those of the highest quality in the entire country,'' said Peršurić, adding that they are currently developing a city model that aims to make it easier for young families to get to their hands on their first property.

Novigrad, just like Poreč, had a negative population growth rate in 2017 in terms of births, but also recorded increased migration.

“We believe that this is, in a large part, the result of our efforts to provide the best possible living conditions for our fellow citizens, especially young families, such as resolving existential housing and employment issues, introducing above-average standards in the pre-school education of children, and generally raising the social and communal standard in our city. There are a number of concrete social and other measures in place to help children, young people and young families, all with the aim of retaining or attracting them from elsewhere to our city,'' says Novigrad's mayor, Anteo Milos.

Some of the projects through which Novigrad encourages a more positive demographic picture are the (co) financing of food and equipment for infants, subsidies for the second child in kindergarten, participation in kindergarten costs, free textbooks, the co-financing of high school transportation costs and subsidised housing projects. In Novigrad this year, there has been a record number of students enrolled in the first grade in primary school, as well as a higher number of younger children in kindergartens.

As cities like Novigrad and Poreč continue to lead the way and set a valuable example to the rest of Croatia, when will the country catch up in terms of learning how to properly retain its population? The Croatian Government's decision to lower VAT in the hospitality sector should bring positive results, but there is far more work than that to be done.

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