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.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Croatia to receive €7.2m from Brexit Adjustment Fund

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - The Council of the EU on Tuesday approved a fund which will help member states tackle the negative impact of Great Britain's exit and from which Croatia is due €7.2 million.

The fund of €5 billion (in 2018 prices) will support the hardest hit regions, sectors and communities to cover extra costs, compensate losses or counter other adverse economic and social effects resulting directly from the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.

The largest amount, of €4.5 billion, is shared according to the importance of trade with the UK, €656 million is shared based on the importance of fisheries in the UK's exclusive economic zone, and €273 million is distributed based on the importance of neighbouring links for the maritime border regions with the UK.

Consequently, Ireland will receive the bulk of the money (€1.16bn), followed by the Netherlands (€886m) and France (€735m).

The bulk of the resources, €4.3 billion, will be made available to member-countries as pre-financing in three annual tranches - in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The remaining resources will be made available in 2025, after a review of the expenditure on eligible measures in the previous years, which will also factor in any unused amounts.

Today's approval by the Council is final. The European Parliament voted on it on 15 September. The regulation will enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

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

Saturday, 25 September 2021

2021 European Languages Day: Varaždin Celebrates German Language Learning

September 25, 2021 - The 2021 European Languages Day was celebrated at the Franciscan square in Varaždin. Pupils presented souvenirs honoring Germany and the German language.

'Gore gore gore gore' (hills burn worse up there) is one of those sentences that show how weird but cool the Croatian language can be. Add interesting phrases to the equation, and you can understand why Croatians are proud and want to preserve their language.

But Croatians also respect other languages too.

As reported by the Varaždinske Vijesti website, September 25 marked the European Day of Languages.

Under the motto "Deutsch ist Nah!" Varaždin's Franciscan square saw five Varaždin elementary schools, the Varaždin high school, and ten schools from Varaždin County celebrate the event with a suitable program.

„Given that we as teachers recognized the importance of multilingual education, we decided to shed light on the German language, which is important for Varaždin County, both because of geography but also for the economy. In teaching, we address communicative approach and active, vocal communication and active usage of the German language which is very significant in our area“, Vidovec Elementary school German language teacher Lea Lesar Dolenc told for Varaždinske Vijesti.

Dolenc is the initiator of the project that is run along with the European Culture Circle EKULT Association for the popularisation of the German language. The program that lasted from 10 AM to 1 PM saw the presentation of souvenirs with symbols of the Federal Republic of Germany made by the pupils from participating schools.

Apart from German, as former British Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish noted for TCN, Croatians speak English very well too.

When it comes to language learning in Croatia, apart from various courses and private schools, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (FFZG), part of the University of Zagreb, is the most pristine high-education facility that educates its students to be translators. As well as understand various languages and cultures that tag along with lingual expressions. Additionally, FFZG is the home to Croaticum.

„Croaticum – Centre for Croatian as a Second and Foreign Language is the oldest and largest institution engaged in teaching, research, and description of Croatian as a second and foreign language. It is part of the Department of Croatian Language and Literature at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb, the largest Croatian academic institution specializing in social studies and humanities. Croaticum is renowned for its tradition, expertise, and knowledge“, says the Croaticum website, an institution founded back in 1962.

Commemorating the learning of second languages by celebrating the European Day of Languages is now a twenty-year-long tradition, as it was founded in 2001.

„Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans are represented in the Council of Europe's 47 member states, and all are encouraged to discover more languages at any age, as part of or alongside their studies. This stems from the Council of Europe’s conviction that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent. Therefore, the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe“, explains the European Language Day website.

Learn more about Varaždin in our TC guide.

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Croatia Among EU States With Biggest Industrial Output Drops in July Month-Over-Month

ZAGREB, 15 Sept, 2021 - Europe's industrial production recovered in July 2021 but Croatia was among the EU countries with the largest monthly decreases, an Eurostat report showed on Wednesday.

In July 2021, the seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 1.5% in the euro area and by 1.4% in the EU, compared with June 2021, when industrial production fell by 0.1% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU.

In the euro area in July 2021, compared with June 2021, production of non-durable consumer goods rose by 3.5%, while in the EU it rose by 2.8%.

Capital goods went up by 2.7% in the euro area and by 2.4% in the EU, and intermediate goods by 0.4% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU, while energy production was stable in the EU and fell by 0.6% in the euro area.

Among member states for which data are available, the highest monthly increases were registered in Ireland (+7.8%), Belgium (+5%) and Portugal (+3.5%). The largest decreases were observed in Lithuania (-2.0%), Slovenia (-1.8%) and Croatia (-1.6%).

In July 2021 compared with July 2020, industrial production increased by 7.7% in the euro area and by 8.3% in the EU.

In the euro area in July 2021, compared with July 2020, production of intermediate goods rose by 11.2%, nondurable consumer goods by 10.1%, durable consumer goods by 9.8%, capital goods by 5.9% and energy by 1%.

In the EU, production of intermediate goods rose by 11.8%, non-durable consumer goods by 9.4%, durable consumer goods by 8.9%, capital goods by 6.3% and energy by 2.7%. 

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

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Says it's Reasonable to Adopt Euro 9.5 Years After EU Entry

ZAGREB, 15 Sept, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday during the national parliament's Question Time that it was reasonable for Croatia that entered the EU in 2013 to switch to the euro nine and a half years after its admission to the Union.

"It seems a reasonable time frame to me for a country that joined the Union on 1 July 2013 to adopt the euro on 1 January 2023, that is nine and a half years," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in response to the question from Marko Milanović Litre (Croatian Sovereignists) whether the citizens should be asked about the adoption of the euro and renunciation of monetary sovereignty.

"You are a new MP. Your predecessors in this same parliament ratified the EU Accession Treaty by 150 votes in favour. Your colleague, Ruža Tomašić, thanks to whom you are sitting here, was a member of the European Parliament in 2013. Your colleague Ilčić has rushed to the EP where he is paid in euro," Plenković said.

The PM said that the strategic goal of his government was to get Croatia into two deeper integrations - the Schengen passport-free travel zone and the euro area.

"We have made sure to fulfil the Maastricht criteria in the present circumstances of a pandemic, earthquakes and crises and have come close to adopting the euro, and now we listen to this initiative of yours. I don't know if we have all slept through this entire period," the prime minister said.

"Is there anyone who still thinks that EU membership is bad for us, after we have absorbed 44 billion more than we have contributed?" he concluded.

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

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

European Parliament For Recognising Same-Sex Marriage Across EU

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - A majority of members of the European Parliament on Tuesday endorsed a draft resolution seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships in all member states.

The draft was endorsed by 387 MEPs, 161 voted against and 123 abstained.

The resolution says same-sex spouses and partners should be treated equally as heterosexual ones, and that marriages and partnerships concluded in one EU member state should be recognised in all.

Of the Croatian MEPs, the draft was endorsed by Biljana Borzan, Predrag Matić and Tonino Picula of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Valter Flego of the Istrian Democratic Party.

Independent Mislav Kolakušić and conservative Ladislav Ilčić were against, while Sunčana Glavak, Karlo Ressler, Tomislav Sokol and Željana Zovko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) abstained.

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić (Human Shield) did not vote as he was in Rome, and Romana Jerković (SDP) could not because of technical difficulties, but her office told Hina that she "supports this resolution."

Speaking to Hina, Matić said the adoption of the resolution was a "civilisational achievement", while Flego said it was unacceptable that LGBTIQ rights were being reduced instead of advanced in many countries, and that it was time to "finally give everyone equal rights."

Ilčić told Hina the resolution "is consciously trying to equate the legal status of same-sex couples in all member states, thus negating the right of the states to independently decide which unions they will recognise and which they won't."

"That would mean that the whole EU must follow the most liberal states to avoid alleged discrimination, which is absurd, contrary to the treaties and the subsidiarity principle," he said, adding that the LGBT lobby was exerting enormous pressure on the European institutions.

The resolution also calls on the European Commission to take action against Romania, Hungary and Poland for violating LGBTIQ rights and fundamental EU values.

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

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Marija Vučković Takes Part in Informal Meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - The agriculture strategy envisions further investment in public services in rural areas, with an emphasis on digitisation, irrigation, renewable energy production and increasing energy efficiency, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said at an informal meeting of EU ministers.

In order to succeed in that, it is essential to continue investing in human capital, the minister stressed.

Minister Vučković was taking part in an informal meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which was held in Kranj, Slovenia on Monday and Tuesday. The Agriculture Ministry reported on Tuesday that the central topic of the meeting was strengthening dialogue between urban and rural areas in the EU, with an emphasis on possibilities for their further development.

The long-term vision for the EU's rural areas up to 2040 aims to reverse negative trends affecting rural areas, including depopulation, population ageing and the decline in attractiveness of rural areas as places to live. The vision brings together several policies that go beyond the common agricultural policy (CAP) and require a more integrated and coordinated approach at the EU, national and regional level, the press release says.

In order for the process aimed at strengthening rural areas to succeed, it is necessary to continue investing in human resources, Minister Vučković stressed.

We have to provide funds for investments and help young people to realise their business goals in rural areas and respond to challenges by creating added value, she said.

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

 

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Former Officials From Ex-Yugoslav Countries Issue Appeal to EU, NATO Over Montenegro

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - Former office-holders from the area of the former Yugoslavia on Monday evening sent a letter to EU and NATO leaders, expressing concern about the situation in Montenegro and calling on them to join in active political dialogue and help resolve the crisis in that country peacefully.

"One more place of conflict and crisis in Europe is the last thing Europe and the world need right now. We therefore call on EU institutions and other allies to join in active political dialogue with the different political and social stakeholders in the current crisis in Montenegro and help them arrive at a peaceful solution to the escalating conflict in the country," the letter of appeal reads.

Signatories to the letter, including Croatia's former foreign minister Vesna Pusić, former Serbian prime minister Žarko Korać, and former Bosnia and Herzegovina prime minister Zlatko Lagumdžija, said that the recent events surrounding the enthronement of the new leader of the Serb Orthodox Church in Montenegro were only superficially related to religious issues but in reality "have nothing to do with religion, and not even with politics or ideology."

"They are yet another manifestation of a conflict between forces that believe that Montenegro should not exist as a separate state and those who believe that Montenegro should stay independent, with all attributes of statehood," the letter reads.

"Since we have all witnessed the Balkan wars of the 1990s, we cannot help but notice alarming similarities between the current developments in Montenegro and those that led to the wars of 25-30 years ago," the signatories to the letter said, noting that Montenegro was not a country with a large population but that strategically it was very important for the stability of Southeast Europe.

Riots erupted in Montenegro on Sunday during the inauguration of the Serb Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Montenegro, Joanikije, with those whose opposed the ceremony being held in Cetinje putting up barricades on roads leading to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica and clashing with police.

Metropolitan Joanikije and the head of the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC), Patriarch Porfirije, were taken to Cetinje aboard a police helicopter and the religious ceremony of Joanikije's inauguration was held there.

The protesters interpreted the SPC's insistence on holding the ceremony in the Montenegrin historical capital of Cetinje as an act of provocation and humiliation of Montenegrins, asking that it be moved to some other Serb Orthodox shrine in Montenegro.

Thirty police officers and protesters were injured in the clashes and police used tear gas and stun guns during Sunday's riots.

PM: Those who violated the law will be held to account

Montenegro has demonstrated stability and it has shown that the policy of peace is the most important to its citizens, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić has said, noting that those who have violated the law in the latest events will be held to account.

The enthronement of the head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Montenegro was an important moment that some tried to use to destabilise Montenegro but their attempt failed, said Krivokapić.

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

Monday, 6 September 2021

New Croatian Energy Label: More Transparence for Light Source Efficiency

September 6, 2021 - A new Croatian energy label with more arranged levels of energetic efficiency and a QR code that connects buyers directly to the European Commission database offers more transparency to Croatian buyers.

Noted for promoting energy efficiency, particularly within the REPLACE Project, the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) is also involved in the Label 2020 project. As EIHP reported, since September 1, 2021, a new energy label has been providing more information on the energy efficiency of light source products.

The Label 2020 website explains that this new Croatian energy label developed better information for customers to educate them further on product efficiency.

This includes levels A-G (With A being the most energy efficient and G being the least efficient), with QR codes on the top of the label that provide a direct link to the European Commission's database for transparency and easier market control from the national government. In addition, energy spending is portrayed in a more express way in the middle of the energy label, while the bottom of the label has various pictograms which provide information on the selected features of the product.

''Several pictograms are the same as in the old label, some have been reviewed, and others are completely new,'' pointed out Label 2020.

''The EU energy tag for devices has remained a crucial starter for innovation and the market development of energy efficient technologies over the last 20 years. The energy label plays a two-part role in innovation stimulation for manufacturers and demanding efficient devices for buyers,'' explained Label 2020.

The new energy Croatian label aims to support all branches of the energy sale on the consumption market. From consumers and (professional) buyers through an information campaign, services and tools, to distributers (with the implementation of the label at the stores and for online purchase), manufacturers (by delivering the correct labels and product info), as well as for others.

With the new Croatian energy label having been a staple for the past 20 years, the change was triggered by the previous A level having three sublevels which opens doors for the incorrect advertising of products that weren't really energy efficient.

''Therefore, the European Union changed and optimised the label in line with the needs of the users. The new label was presented to buyers in physical stores and online on March 1, 2021, and includes energy classes from A to G. These scales will be updated regularly,'' said the website.

With the aforementioned QR code link being the strongest and most innovative demonstration of transparency of the updated system, the sparks of electricity will hopefully be greener than last month as Croatian buyers now have more options to make an informed purchase.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about energy efficiency in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

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