Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Youth Leaving Country Because They Can't Leave Parental Home?

January the 19th, 2022 - There are many things responsible for the ongoing Croatian demographic crisis, from corruption to salaries to a bad economy, the list goes on and on. Croatian youth typically live with their parents for far longer than we see in most other European countries (with the exception of a few similar ones), could this be why they'd rather take their chances abroad?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, in the media presentation of the results of last year's damning census, the increase in housing units was singled out as a surprise, but this is not really unexpected.

In the previous census, the one from back in 2011, the same thing happened, the number of inhabitants of the country dropped, and the number of residential buildings increased. The difference is that the then smaller decline in population was accompanied by significantly higher growth in the number of real estate.

Specifically, in 2011, a total of 4.285 million inhabitants were counted in Croatia, ie 153 thousand less than ten years earlier, while in that interval the number of housing units increased by 370 thousand, to 2.247 million buildings.

The latest census recorded 3.889 million inhabitants and 2.350 million housing units.

However, the first data doesn't really give us a complete picture because, according to the president of the Real Estate Association, Dubravko Ranilovic, further processing has yet to reveal whether the reconstruction of the housing ''stock'' has finally begun and then we need to be given an accurate picture of the size, quality and purpose of these facilities. Reconstruction of the housing stock, he says, has been lacking so far.

In addition, the picture will be framed by data on the age structure of the population, as well as how many members of what we consider the Croatian youth have an apartment. So far, the population has been aging, and entering the EU acted as a "booster" for the emigration of Croatian youth.

The previous census from back in 2011 determined the average age of the country's residents to stand at about 42 years, which was three years more than in 2001. Now, of course, ''we'' will be even older, the only question is by how much.

92 percent of men and 84 percent of women under the age of 29 still live with their parents.

Dwellings are important in the overall picture, because one of the most cited problems in the emigration of Croatian youth was their inability to provide housing, independence and leave their parents' home. According to recently published Eurostat data, many households in Croatia are overcrowded, and the amount of Croatian youth still living with their parents is incredibly high.

In Croatia, 36 percent of the population lives in overcrowded homes, although 91 percent of people live in their own property, but these properties are too small, have too few rooms or too many household members. By comparison in the EU, the least overcrowded households are in Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands, where less than 5 percent of the population lives in overcrowded properties/homes.

When looking at the percentage of young people aged 16 to 29 living with their parents, Croatia is the EU record holder, because in those years, most Croatian youth still live with their parents. 92 percent of Croatian men and 84 percent of Croatian women still live ''at home'', while the EU average is 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women.

This matter will be made even clearer if it is known that apartments in Croatia make up only a quarter of the properties in the country, which might come as a surprise to some, so it is even clearer why young people find it much more difficult to stand on their own two feet and become independent.

Eurostat also found that from 2010 to the end of the third quarter of 2021, Croatian property prices, both for purchase and rent, were significantly below the EU average. Croatia is therefore among the countries with the lowest growth, and interestingly, the largest increase was in countries where Croatian youth tends to migrate, such as in Germany and Austria when it comes to selling prices, and Ireland when it comes to rent.

However, the prices themselves, although lower in Croatia than in Western European countries, are not crucial, according to Ranilovic, because it is noticeable that they fell in the areas from which the most people emigrated in recent years, and in those areas there were fewer transactions anyway. In addition, Ranilovic stated that as many as a quarter of Croatian property purchases, about 7,000 of them, were made by foreigners in Croatia last year.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

€7 Billion Paid to Croatia From European Structural and Investment Funds

January the 9th, 2022 - A massive seven billion euros has already been paid out to the Republic of Croatia from European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), with a massive 13.2 billion euros of projects contracted.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the country contracted over 13 billion euros in order to finance various projects by the end of last year from European Structural and Investment Funds. So far, 6.95 billion euros or 64.8 percent of the allocated funds from EU funds have been disbursed, as was announced on Wednesday from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds.

At part of a recently held Government session, Minister Natasa Tramisak presented a report on the state of utilisation of ESI funds in the Republic of Croatia, which was then adopted by the Croatian Government, the statement said.

As the competent ministry noted, a total of 10.73 billion euros and 81.56 billion kuna was available to Croatia from European Structural and Investment Funds for the period 2014-2020. Until December the 30th last year, projects worth 13.2 billion euros (100.34 billion kuna) or 123.03 percent of the allocated funds, had been successfully contracted.

According to a statement from the ministry, a total of 6.95 billion euros or 52.85 billion kuna had been paid out, which is 64.8 percent of the allocated funds, and 5.97 billion euros or 45.36 billion kuna or 55.61 percent were certified allocated funds.

Compared to the end of 2020, last year, the financing of various different Croatian projects worth 9.05 billion kuna were contracted, 15.03 billion kuna was paid out, and 12.01 billion kuna of that amount was certified.

The percentage of contracted funds increased from 111.93 up to 123.03 percent, the percentage of disbursed shot up from 46.38 to 64.80 percent, and the percentage of certification of those funds went up from 40.89 to 55.61 percent, they also added.

If 763.17 million euros from REACT EU and 597.56 million euros added to the Rural Development Programme are added into the mix of the original allocation of ESI funds for the period 2014-2020 from a total of 10.73 billion kuna, the total allocation by 2023 stands at 12.09 billion euros, the statement said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Croatia Must Utilise EU Funds Amounting to 320 Million Euros by Mid-2023

December the 20th, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia has an enormous 320 million euros coming to it by the end of 2021, and it must utilise it in full by mid-2023, by June of that year to be more precise. With Petrinja still shamefully waiting for redevelopment and reconstruction almost one entire year since the devastating earthquake struck, there's no time like the present.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, Darko Horvat, said that Croatia is absolutely ready to accept EU grants which will be spent on reconstructing Petrinja following 2020's earthquake. He said this when in conversation with Dnevnik after MEPs approved the provision at the December the 14th plenary session in which assistance to Croatia in the amount of 320 million euros was agreed upon. The enormous sum will go to repairing the damage caused by the natural disasters of 2020.

"Given the considerable experience we've gained in preparing the applications for repairing the damage from the Zagreb earthquake (which struck in March 2020), we've encouraged the end users of these funds to start drafting project documentation. What's especially important now, given that the implementing bodies are ready to accept the funds, is that at the beginning of 2022 we expect the announcement of the first public calls,'' said Horvat.

Based on the aforementioned decision, Croatia is being provided with a financial envelope of 320 million euros, including the already paid advance of 41.3 million euros. The payment of the remaining part, a sum close to 280 million euros, is expected by the end of the year. Out of a total of about 17 billion euros in estimated earthquake damage, direct damage to the Banovina area is estimated to stand at about 5.5 billion.

As the damage is far greater than the expected FSEU aid can cover, the planned distribution of aid will be largely focused on eligible costs already incurred, as well as projects already contracted or those with certain costs and deadline security. According to available data, of the already incurred or contracted costs of around 240 million euros, almost 80 million euros has been spent on operations eligible for funding from the FSEU. As for the deadline, as was the case with the previous procedure, it is 18 months from the payment of the total amount to the budget of the Republic of Croatia.

According to Minister Horvat and the national coordinating body for the implementation of earthquake remediation, if the payment is made before the end of 2021, the implementation deadline will be June 2023. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

EU Announces That Croatia Meets Requirements for Schengen Entry, Finally

December the 11th, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia finally meets all of the many requirements for Schengen entry, and European Union member states agreed this on Thursday, paving the way for a final decision on the matter.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the 27 EU member states agreed that Croatia meets all the conditions for implementing the Schengen acquis, paving the way for a final decision on Schengen entry which is without any control when crossing the European Union's internal borders.

The agreed text of the conclusions was formally adopted by EU member states' interior ministers on Thursday without further discussion.

Two other member states, the Netherlands and Sweden, had procedural reservations at a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) on Wednesday as their representatives awaited consultation(s) with the relevant committees in their respective parliaments, and conclusions couldn't be reached without the consent of all member states. The green light finally arrived for Croatian Schengen entry on Thursday, in time for the interior ministers who gathered in Brussels to officially confirm it.

Representatives of both of the aforementioned countries said that in principle they had no substantive objections to the text of the conclusions, but that these are common procedures in their countries when a position to be represented by their representatives in Brussels has sought consultations with the relevant parliamentary committees.

"Croatia has met all of the necessary conditions for the implementation of all parts of the Schengen acquis," the text of the agreed conclusions reads. This created the preconditions for the Council to take a decision in accordance with Article 4 (2) of the Agreement on the Accession of Croatia, which allows for the abolition of internal border controls. "With a view to Croatia's accession to Schengen, Croatia is called upon to continue to consistently implement the Schengen acquis and the obligations related to the Schengen acquis," the conclusions said.

These conclusions are a procedurally necessary condition for making a decision on Croatian Schengen entry and removing border controls at the Croatian land border with Slovenia and Hungary, as well as at airports and seaports.

The final decision on Schengen entry could be made in about six months during the French EU presidency, and it requires the explicit consent of all Schengen member states. The Council should also seek the opinion of the European Parliament, which it may or may not follow.

The adopted conclusions don't mean that the decision for Croatia to join Schengen is guaranteed as it cannot be ruled out that some of member states might block the decision. Conclusions on Schengen readiness for Bulgaria and Romania were adopted way back in 2011, and the two countries are still outside Schengen.

The text itself states that the adopted conclusions meet the preconditions for the Council to be able to subsequently decide that all parts of the Schengen acquis apply in Croatia.

"The Council can begin work on the draft decision with a view to forwarding it to the European Parliament for consultation as soon as possible," the conclusions said.

Schengen entry requires thorough evaluations to assess whether the country can take responsibility for external border control on behalf of other Schengen countries, to cooperate effectively with the police authorities of other Schengen member states in order to maintain a high level of security after the abolition of border controls, to apply Schengen rules, such as the control of land, sea and air borders (airports), the issuance of Schengen visas, police cooperation and protection of personal data, and the connection with and use of the Schengen Information System.

Onthr 6th of March 2015, Croatia sent a letter stating that it was ready to start evaluations in all relevant areas of the Schengen acquis as of the 1st of July of the same year. The evaluation process began in June 2016 and was completed in May 2019, and the European Commission confirmed on the 22nd of October 2019 that Croatia meets all the technical requirements for Schengen entry.

The procedure was carried out by teams of experts from the European Commission and EU member states, who, after carrying out all of the inspections, wrote a series of reports and recommendations to correct all of Croatia's identified shortcomings. Following these recommendations, Croatia has developed action plans to address these shortcomings. The last action plan for the area of ​​external border management was concluded back in February this year.

Croatia has gone through the most comprehensive and detailed process of assessing its readiness for Schengen membership, which no EU member state has encountered so far. It fulfilled 281 recommendations in eight areas of the Schengen acquis, of which 145 recommendations related solely to the area of ​​external border control.

With the help of the EU, Croatia has invested significant funds in its border protection, which is guarded by six and a half thousand police officers. It has been under a lot of pressure from migrants trying to enter EU territory for a long time and border police have been accused by the media and NGOs of forcibly returning and inhumanely treating illegal migrants trying to cross.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Following Macron's Visit, French-Croatian Economic Partnership Stoked

December the 1st, 2021 - The French-Croatian economic partnership is set to be ramped up even further and cover a variety of different fields following the French President's recent visit to Zagreb in which he stated Croatia's Schengen readiness.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, last week, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, which is a political declaration with a broader scope in which the two countries will engage in deeper French-Croatian cooperation.

The focus of the public, due to the simultaneous signing of the contract on the purchase of twelve Rafale fighter jets, was the military aspect of future cooperation with the country that is now the largest European Union military power, as well as to open French support for Croatia's entry into the Eurozone and the Schengen area.

This French-Croatian strategic document also brings preferences in bilateral relations between the two economies, part of which refers to the engagement of Croatian companies in the implementation of contracts for the procurement of combat squadrons.

The details haven't been specified, but it is stated that "France is ready to increase the development of further high-value aeronautical support activities at the industrial level in Croatia in connection with the Rafale aircraft."

From this it can be concluded that the doors are well and truly open to industrial cooperation in the aviation industry between the two nations. Cooperation between small and medium-sized and large companies and universities, as well as the participation in industrial consortia financed from the EU budget is also envisaged.

French-Croatian foreign trade relations have only been growing from year to year and the Agreement states that greater importance is needed in increasing the recognition of each country's economies and their investments. In the long run, mutual cooperation in education and scholarships will contribute to this, and in the short term, the foundations for stronger networking will be the two countries' plans which are primarily based on going green and the digital transition, as well as the EU's multiannual financial framework.

In addition to connecting to specific projects, France is also offering its support for the development of technology parks and the ecosystem of start-ups in Croatia, and will share its best experiences in supporting startups and growing companies. With experience in infrastructure projects and the automotive industry, a special space is being opened up in waste management, water management, green energy and digitalisation.

The two countries intend to improve their cooperation in the field of tourism, primarily in the search for models on how to escape from the bings of problematic mass tourism. France is the world's number one tourist destination at the moment, it is visited by the most tourists annually, while Croatia is the European country that receives the most tourists per capita. Therefore, the issue of sustainable tourism is becoming more and more significant, and judging by the Partnership Agreement, the way out will be cultural tourism and joint archaeological research programmes..

There is also talk of cooperation through ITER (International Experimental Thermonuclear Reactor), the construction of an experimental nuclear reactor, the largest investment in science in which all countries of the world participate, and its "host" is France. Getting electricity from fusion energy in France is seen as a priority goal to ensure non-carbon energy sources and sustainable development. This agreement does not, therefore, bring individual projects with specific participants into the ''game'', but instead proposes a proper framework for future French-Croatian partnerships, from which three-year action plans will be adopted at a later stage.

This isn't the first strategic partnership between Croatia and France, as they signed a similar agreement back in 2010, but with the acquisition of the Rafale planes, and also with its 2013 status of an EU member state, Croatia is now receiving more attention.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

80-100 Million Euro Costs for Croatian Banks to Switch to Euro

November the 27th, 2021 - Croatian banks will have a hefty sum on their hands as the country's Eurozone entry approaches. The costs of the transition alone are eye-watering.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, based on the Action Plan for the Adjustment of the Financial System to the Introduction of the Euro as the Official Currency, about a month ago the Croatian National Bank instructed commercial Croatian banks to prepare a simulation of the costs of adjusting to the euro.

Estimates of the expected effects on revenues and expenditures directly related to the adjustment process, from the beginning of this year to 12 months after the date of the introduction of the euro, must be submitted to the CNB by the end of this year.

According to the CNB's instructions, the simulation includes all points of the Action Plan related to the implementation of the conversion, the double reporting of prices, the notification of users and adjustments following the introduction of the euro.

Among other things, it should include all foreseeable costs of pre-supply, indirect pre-supply and the cost of additional processing and the transportation of cash and additional cash insurance in branches of Croatian banks, as well as all foreseeable costs related to changes in the operation of payment systems. In addition, Croatian banks are expected to calculate related to regulatory reporting requirements, but also with all the expected savings associated with the conversion.

On their behalf, the Croatian Association of Banks provided a rough estimate. "For the needs of the technical process of adjusting the banking system, one-time costs are estimated at between 80 and 100 million euros. In addition to the above, the turnover on the foreign exchange market of kuna/euro will stand at about one billion kuna per year,'' stated the director of HUB, Zdenko Adrovic. One-time costs related to the introduction of the euro, he says, are primarily related to the adjustment of information systems and ATM networks.

However, HUB emphasised that both Croatian banks and their clients will find it easier to manage any currency risk in the long run, which means that risks will generally be reduced, and the collectibility of placements will be higher on average than it would be if Croatia were to keep the kuna.

HUB also emphasised that the introduction of the euro is extremely important for increasing investment, financing conditions and long-term growth of the Croatian economy. They add that the technical introduction of the euro is a very complex process that requires intensive engagement and cooperation of all bank employees.

"Croatian banks will play an important role in the whole process, given that they'll adjust the software of their POS devices and digital services and the entire ATM network so that people have the opportunity to use all banking services and withdraw their cash from the moment the euro is introduced. In addition, banks will convert deposits and loans and inform their clients in a timely and detailed manner about all they need to know,'' they concluded.

In any case, despite the instructions of the CNB to Croatian banks, this year was largely marked by the preoccupation with the euro project and all of the related preparatory activities. Although the Government continues to insist on the "fast track" move, so the target date for entry into the Eurozone is still the 1st of January 2023 (the earliest possible date according to the rules related to ERM II), the exact date will be known only next year.

Whether it is the beginning, middle or end of the year, operational activities to replace the kuna require very careful coordination. This is especially true for IT system customisations, which also account for a large share of the aforementioned costs. Regarding technical and technological adjustments to the transition to the common European currency, it is enough to mention, for example, that the number of devices on which payment cards are accepted in Croatia exceeds 113 thousand.

Most of them, slightly less than 108 thousand, refer to EFTPOS devices for payments at points of sale, and despite the long-term trend of reducing the ATM network, there were almost 4900 ATMs at the beginning of this year. Like most other banks, Erste Bank says they're already working intensively on the euro adjustment process to prepare in time for the introduction of the new currency. In terms of costs, most of it relates to the IT segment.

For more, follow our politics section.

Friday, 22 October 2021

450 Free European Train Trips on Offer to Croatia, Here's How to Apply

October the 22nd, 2021 - Fancy some European train trips? Now you can hop aboard and do just that, and for free, thanks to a very popular EU-funded experience which is now back.

If there's one thing that the European Union (EU) does that just about everyone loves, it's the allowance of freedom of movement. Travel and tourism was sadly halted during the coronavirus pandemic, and now with the advent of the vaccine, things are beginning to resemble some form of normality as we once knew it, slowly. The much loved DiscoverEU experience is now making a very welcome return, and 450 free European train trips are on offer to youth living in the Republic of Croatia!

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, following a short break due to the global coronavirus pandemic, applications for the DiscoverEU experience, an initiative of the European Union that gives eighteen-year-olds the opportunity to travel by train around Europe for free, have reopened. As many as 60,000 tickets are being distributed as part of it, and 450 of them are available in and to Croatia.

Ticket winners from Croatia or elsewhere can travel alone or in a group with four other friends, and the trip can last for up to thirty days, allowing for a real experience of what the member states of the EU have to offer in terms of the broadening of horizons. The applications are simple to fill in and open from the 12th to the 26th of October 2021, and are done through the European Youth Portal.

This year, young people aged 19 or 20 can also apply for free European train travel via DiscoverEU in order to give them the opportunity to do what they had a right to do when they were a year or two younger, but were interrupted by the global public health crisis we've all been engulfed in.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 1 October 2021

European Youth and IT Industry Panel: Digital Osijek on Horizon

October 1, 2021 - The European Youth and IT Industry Panel, part of the European Future Conference, talked about the importance of the IT sector and AI technology. The host city of Osijek is already displaying fantastic results in the field as a digital Osijek becomes more and more of a reality.

The last day of September, which is the unofficial start of new victories and losses for the Croatian youth (due to the beginning of the school year and final deadline exams for students), has been completed with a suitable discussion on the future of new generations.

Osijek, the biggest city in the Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, was the host of the ''Youth and the IT Industry Future'' panel, one of the thematics panels from the European Future Conference.

Along with the Croatian Parliament and Croatian counties, the European Parliament Office in Zagreb hosts thematic discussions in ten cities which are home to universities.

''The European Future Conference is a series of public debates that allows citizens to express their ideas and come up with suggestions for the reforms and future policies of the EU,'' explains the European Parliament Office in their press release.

They added that the centerpiece of the conference is a multilingual platform where citizens can exchange ideas, connect with each other, and have their say on burning issues outside of these organised events.

The panel in Osijek delighted the mayor, Ivan Radić, one of the opening speakers. Radić stated that Osijek has a lot to say and show when it comes to the IT sector as the city aims to rebrand as a place of excellence for this field, aiming for a more digital Osijek.

There is no better proof of that than the Osijek Software City Association, established in 2021 with the goal of promoting the IT sector towards the local community.

''Several leading IT companies in Osijek realised that the youth needs to be introduced to the IT industry in an approachable way,'' said Osijek Software City representative Ivan Ostheimer.

Thanks to their hard work, many local companies in Osijek now hire experts and produce quality software that can then be exported to the global market, in spite of the still challenging economic situation.

The background goal of the European Future Conference is to show people that European Parliament representatives aren't simply being hermits and hiding themselves in the EU Parliament in Brussels or Strassbourg. In that spirit, the Croatian MEPs Karlo Ressler (European's People Party) and Sunčana Glavak (Croatian Democratic Union) participated in the event (Ressler in person and Glavak via video link).

Ressler is the Vice President of the special EU Parliamentary Committee for artificial intelligence (AI). He stated at the panel the European Union currently has ongoing discussions on regulating this new technology. The goal is to find a balance that would use the potential of AI without stopping the industry, while also avoiding negative scenarios such as manipulation attempts that would damage people's lives.

Glavak pointed out how digitalisation now has a key role in every EU policy.

''The goal is for that at least 80% of the EU population to have digital skills by 2030“, said Glavak.

With the panel in Osijek demonstrating the current successes of the IT industry, the aim for a digital Osijek, and seeing the attendance of both political elites and professionals, it seems that this Eastern Croatian city is on a very good track.

Learn more about Osijek in our TC page.

For more about diplomacy in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Expectations For Croatia's Economy Close to Pre-Pandemic Level

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - Expectations for Croatia's economy in September 2021 came close to the pre-pandemic level, supported by confidence in services and retail trade, while consumer confidence was down, a European Commission report said on Wednesday.

In September 2021, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) in Croatia went up 0.7 points on the month to 112.7, its highest level since February 2020, just before the pandemic broke out, when it was  at 113 points.

Services and retail trade confidence saw the highest increases, by 3.3 and 3 points, respectively, while industry confidence increased by 0.4 points.

Construction confidence decreased by 0.8 points and consumer confidence by 1.6.

Business leaders said they planned to intensify hiring in the coming period, resulting in a 0.9 point increase of the Employment Expectations Indicator (EEI) to 111.5, a record high since 2019.

Optimistic European consumers

In September 2021, the ESI remained unchanged in the EU (at 116.6) and broadly stable in the euro area (+0.2 points to 117.8).

Construction confidence went up by 1.8 points in the EU and by 2 points in the euro area, while consumer confidence went up by 1.1 points in the EU and by 1.3 in the euro area.

Industry confidence remained unchanged in the EU and marginally improved in the euro area.

Retail trade confidence decreased by 2.8 points in the EU and by 3.3 in the euro area, while services confidence decreased by 1.4 points in the EU and by 1.7 in the euro area.

The EEI increased further (+1.0 point to 113.6 in the EU and +0.8 points to 113.6 in the euro area).

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

MEP Says Croatia Fares Poorly in Terms of Access to Legal, Safe Abortion

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - Compared to other countries, Croatia fares poorly in terms of access to legal and safe abortion, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, Social Democrat Predrag Matić, said on the occasion of International Safe Abortion Day and the presentation of the Abortion Atlas.

"The Abortion Atlas is a new tool that gives an overview of countries according to the availability of abortion, and more importantly, the kind of obstacles women across Europe encounter in terms of access to abortion. Croatia is in the lower section of the ladder in that regard, with the situation considered as poor. Even though abortion in Croatia is legal, we have a problem with practical obstacles to access to abortion," Matić said, as quoted by his office.

The Abortion Atlas, authored by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, is the first comprehensive interactive map with data on access to abortion in Europe.

It ranks 52 countries in terms of their legislative frameworks, access and availability of abortion, abortion-related medical care and available public information on abortion.

Croatia is in the lower part of the ranking, with a score of 60%, and it belongs among countries with a poor rating concerning legal and safe abortion. Of the EU member-countries, the best-ranked are Sweden and the Netherlands while Malta and Poland are worst-ranked.

"Access to abortion in the EU has been prevented due to a number of administrative and imposed medical obstacles and conditions such as compulsory counselling, compulsory additional medical tests and a compulsory waiting period," said Matić, a member of the EP's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee and author of an EP resolution on the state of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU.

The obstacles are unjustified and most citizens advocate access to abortion, Matić said, citing the latest survey on the topic in Croatia, in which 81% of the respondents supported the right to abortion while as many as 63% said that pregnancy termination must be free of charge, which makes abortion truly available regardless of one's geographical and socioeconomic status, Matić's office said.

Matić also recalled an extremely dangerous trend among gynecologists in Croatia, with 186 or 60% of the 322 gynecologists employed in hospitals across the country refusing to perform abortion.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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