Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Germany - Business Destination for Croatian Enterprises and Posted Workers

ZAGREB, December 4, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce organised a conference in Zagreb on Wednesday on Germany as an important business destination and on posted workers and taxes in cross-border provision of services.

The head of the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Thomas Sichla, informed the gathering that this institution represented more than 400 members and provided assistance to German and Croatian enterprises wishing to do business on the German market, as well as gave advice about taxes and regulations.

Considering the topic of posted workers - employees sent by their employers to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis - lawyer Ivan Matić of the Zagreb-based Kallay & Partners law firm informed the event of novelties in the latest EU directive on posted workers.

The EU law defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers, which includes remuneration, workers’ accommodation and allowances or reimbursement of expenses during the posting assignment.

The posting of workers can last 12 months, with a justified six-month extension.

In 2017, 417,000 workers were posted to work in Germany. Across the European Union, 0.4% of all employees were posted workers that year. Over 9,800 workers were posted to work in Croatia, whereas 47,000 Croatians left the country for temporary employment abroad. As many as 47% of workers cross the EU borders for employment in the construction sector.

The event also revolved around Croatia-Germany trade. In 2018, the export of commodities from Croatia to Germany totalled nearly two billion euros, while imports from that country totalled 3.6 billion euro, according to HGK data.

From the early 1990s to the mid-2019, German investors spent 3.3 billion euro on their projects in Croatia, and the biggest German investors in Croatia so far have been Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Bayer and ThyssenKrupp.

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

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Merkel Supports Croatia's Efforts in Protecting EU External Borders

ZAGREB, November 21, 2019 - The perspective of a country safeguarding the European Union's external borders differs from the perspective of member-states in the heart of the Schengen Area, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday in Zagreb, where she arrived for a European People's Party (EPP) congress.

During a news conference, Merkel defended Croatia against accusations that it was violating the rights of migrants.

Asked if Croatia should take over the presidency of the EU now that it was being accused of disrespect for the human rights of migrants at its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, the German chancellor said that "the European Union lives off having different perspectives".

Things appear differently from the perspective of a country that is supposed to protect the external borders and from the perspective of a country in the centre of the European region, Merkel said after her bilateral meeting with Croatian Prime Minister and HDZ leader Andrej Plenković on the margins of the EPP congress in Zagreb's Arena sports hall.

Croatia, as a young country, can bring its experiences because its memory of the accession negotiations is still fresh, unlike Germany's memory, since its accession to the EU happened long ago, Merkel explained.

Croatia has done a lot to create the preconditions for its accession to the Schengen area and the European Commission has positively assessed those efforts, she recalled.

Germany has not yet discussed Croatia's Schengen membership bid. However, Merkel said that she would draw attention to all that has been done.

During Germany's chairmanship (in the second half of 2020), this will be on the agenda, said Merkel.

In the first half of 2020 Croatia will chair the EU and after that Germany will assume the rotating presidency.

In October, the European Commission confirmed that Croatia met the technical conditions to join Schengen and it is now on the European Council to make the final decision on Croatia's admission to this passport-free area.

Plenković told the news conference that it was not realistic to expect Croatia's admission to Schengen during Zagreb's presidency over the EU.

This, however, does not mean that at the operational level of working groups the Commission's report will not be discussed, Plenković explained. He also recalled that Bulgaria and Romania have been waiting for the green light for years.

Upon its presidency, Croatia will do its best to assure its European partners that it deserves to be part of the Schengen area, he added.

During its presidency over the EU, Croatia will also address the Union's enlargement to southeast Europe.

Plenković reiterated that the negotiating framework for the accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro includes mechanisms for a suspension of the negotiations.

Merkel said that it was regrettable that Albania and North Macedonia had not opened accession negotiations recently.

In this context, she supported the Croatian government's plans.

Plenković said Germany has always been a friend of Croatia which supported Zagreb in its efforts to accomplish strategic international goals.

Germany is Croatia's main trading partner and one of the biggest investors.

Also, some 395,000 Croat expatriates live in Germany. Merkel praised them for a good coexistence with local Germans, and recalled that a rising number of German tourists visit Croatia.

She believes that bilateral economic cooperation could be boosted.

Both Merkel and Plenković agreed that topics high on the agenda of the Croatian presidency would be the next stage of negotiations on Brexit, the EU's multi-annual budget for the 2021-2027 period, including the cohesion policy, the common agricultural policy and allocations for security, climate change, investment, education and development policies.

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

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Bavaria Grateful to Croatia for Protecting EU Border

ZAGREB, October 24, 2019 - Bavaria's Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrman on Thursday thanked the Croatian police for protecting the European border but expressed concern over the growing number of illegal migrants along the Western Balkan route saying that the situation in the autumn of 2015 must not be repeated in Bavaria or Germany.

"I thank our Croatian colleagues for protecting the European border (...) and congratulate Croatia on the European Commission's green light regarding the fulfilment of technical conditions to access the Schengen Area," Herrman said after a meeting with the Croatian Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović.

The two ministers agreed that cooperation between Bavarian and Croatian police is essential and Herrman added that Bavaria considers that Croatia is positively controlling the border.

He expressed concern about the growing number of illegal migrants passing through Greece, Albania, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the very serious situation in those countries.

"This increased number is very concerning. We have clear instructions that the situation of the autumn of 2015 must not be repeated in Bavaria or Germany," Herrman underscored.

Božinović said that the Croatian police were successfully withstanding all the challenges to protect Croatia's border and the external border of the European Union.

"I presented an overview of the situation on the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan route that there is increased pressure on the EU border and that with the help of European institutions the Croatian police are successfully withstanding all those challenges," Božinović underlined.

"Confirmation of our very efficient work to protect the Croatian border and external Union border is the decision that the European Commission made two days ago regarding the fulfilment of the technical conditions to join the Schengen Area," he added.

The European Commission said on Tuesday that Croatia had met the conditions for joining the Schengen Area and asked the Council of the EU to include Croatia in the area without internal border controls.

The EC added that Croatia would need to continue working on the implementation of all ongoing actions, in particular its management of the external borders, to ensure that these conditions were met.

European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos told a press conference in Zagreb on Wednesday that with Croatia as a member of the Schengen Area, the EU could face migration and security challenges better.

More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Croatian-German Economic Forum Held

ZAGREB, October 22, 2019 - European countries must strengthen cooperation in order to maintain Europe's technological sovereignty, the Croatian-German Economic Forum heard on Monday, with Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat saying that Croatia was ready for the first big investment in the auto industry.

The forum was organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. It brought together representatives of 60 Croatian and German companies from the service, energy, transport, finance, tourism and telecommunication sectors.

Horvat said the Croatian economy was continually growing by 3% but that it was not enough. In order to ensure bigger growth, which Germany needs too, and be able to confront the trade war between big economies such as the US and China, we must be part of the same concept, and strategic documents and regulations in Berlin and Zagreb must be virtually identical, he added.

Only through joint initiatives and talks can we give the Croatian and German economies the chance to grow faster than their surroundings in the next few years, Horvat said.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity given to Croatia to join soon the European Battery Alliance, which was initiated by Germany.

Horvat said that Croatia was ready, thanks to a good workforce and reforms, to accept the first big investment in the auto industry, adding that the government was willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure for this investment.

Those are the kind of investments and jobs that Croatia needs, he said.

Croatia will do everything to eliminate administrative barriers, to reduce non-tax levies, to make the cost of labour competitive and to finally start attracting investors that create the kind of jobs for which young people are emigrating from Croatia, Horvat said.

Croatia has drawn up new legislation for investors and is ready to adapt it if major investors accept the invitation to invest in Croatia by the end of this year or early the next, he added.

We are in a new digital era characterised by political, technological and economic transformations, and the market economy continues to grow, which entails growing competition, making it necessary to constantly work on keeping one's position, said German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier.

Europe must keep its technological sovereignty in the future, he added.

Speaking of areas of cooperation between Croatia and Germany, he highlighted industry 4.0, innovations, the use of hydrogen in transport, and the production of batteries for the auto industry. If all batteries came from Asia, one third of our added value would disappear, he said.

Given that Croatia will chair the EU in the first half of 2020 and Germany in the second, Altmaier said the two countries must closely cooperate in the economy to raise their cooperation to a higher level.

He said Croatia must assume the role of a mediator regarding the Balkans and the EU integration of North Macedonia and Albania because, he added, that was a common interest.

HGK president Luka Burilović said Germany was the world's fourth largest economy and Croatia's key trade partner, the third largest foreign direct investor in Croatia and a significant partner in the export of services.

"Therefore, it is not surprising that we are closely watching every move in the country known as Europe's driver as well as the measures it plans in order to neutralise any negative impact," he said.

According to Burilović, current economic trends in Europe and the world in the first half of 2019 have not impacted the German demand for Croatian products. Croatia recorded a 6.89% rise in exports, while imports went up 5.99%.

The German economy is crucial for Croatia also because of the many Croats living and working there, Burilović said, adding that it is estimated that they bring about 1 billion euro to Croatia via banks or direct transfer.

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

Monday, 21 October 2019

Croatia and Germany to Improve Economic Cooperation

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat and his visiting German counterpart Peter Altmaier on Monday met in Zagreb for talks on boosting bilateral economic cooperation, notably in the fields of the car industry, industry 4.0 and innovations.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Minister Horvat described Germany as the most important bilateral economic partner and said that in 2018 Croatia-Germany trade was 5.4 billion euro.

Horvat said that Altmaier's visit to Croatia ensued a few days before his planned presentation of Germany's new industrial strategy whereby Germany wants to make headway in industry 4.0, and Croatia also intends to outline its national digital economy plan by the end of this year.

Horvat said that the purpose of today's meeting was also to adjust the development and methodology of the development of the German and Croatian industries.

The Croatian minister also underscored that Germany was at the helm of the European Battery Alliance (EBA), and that his German counterpart had told him that Croatia would soon become a full member of that alliance. The European Commission has put 5 billion euro at the disposal of that initiative.

Horvat told the news conference that the Croatian side had informed the German delegation of "Croatia's readiness to create prerequisites for German investors who want to direct a segment of the automobile industry towards eastern or central Europe".

Croatia has a skilled labour force, well-regulated business zones as well as an encouraging legislative framework ready for German investments in the car industry, according to Horvat.

Minister Altmaier said that the aim of the German delegation's visit to Zagreb was to raise the relations between the two countries to a higher level.

Since Croatia's admission to the European Union, growth and a faster rate in economic growth have been visible and Germany wants this trend to continue, he added.

Asked by the press about the possible impact of the projected deceleration of Germany's economy on Croatia, Altmaier answered that in the last 10 years Germany had experienced growth and this year's stagnation of 0.5% was due to the trade conflicts between China and the USA and due to Brexit. However, he said he was glad to see that all that had not affected Croatia's economy.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Foreign Minister Visits Baden-Wuerttemberg

ZAGREB, October 1, 2019 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman on Wednesday visited the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, meeting with its Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, the ministry said in a press release.

Baden-Wuerttemberg is one of Croatia's main foreign trade partners in Germany.

The two officials said the cooperation was excellent thanks to the activities of the mixed commission of the Croatian government and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The two sides hold regular meetings since 2004 and they address the economy, agriculture, energy, culture, science and education.

The interlocutors said cooperation was excellent also as part of the EU strategy for the Danube river region which Croatia will chair next year. As part of this cooperation, Croatia and Baden-Wuerttemberg coordinate the strengthening of enterprise competitiveness and the development of enterprise clusters.

The two officials welcomed the intensified cooperation between twin cities such as Osijek and Pforzheim, Nova Gradiška and Mengen, Rijeka and Karlsruhe, and Vinkovci and Kenzingen.

Grlić Radman and Kretschmann agreed that there is room to further intensify relations and investment in IT, machinery and equipment production, and the auto industry.

Kretschmann singled out Croatia's Rimac Automobili car company as an example of the excellent cooperation between Croatia and Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Grlić Radman also met with the local Croatian Catholic Mission.

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

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Croatia-Germany Political Relations Excellent

ZAGREB, September 19, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the chairman of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the Northern Adriatic States in the Parliament of Germany, Oliver Luksic, held talks in Zagreb on Thursday, describing the two countries' political relations as excellent and calling for closer economic cooperation, trade and investments, the Croatian government said in a statement.

"The two countries' excellent political relations and cooperation within the EU and NATO are also owing to the Croat community living in Germany as well as the large number of German tourists visiting Croatia," PM Plenković's office said in the statement, noting that the two officials advocated closer economic cooperation and trade as well as further investments.

Speaking of Croatia's preparations for joining the Schengen area of passport-free travel, Plenković said that Croatia had met all the technical conditions and expected the European Commission to approve the Council of the European Union's recommendation about Croatia meeting criteria to join the Schengen area.

He said that Croatia was preparing well for the chairmanship of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020, adding that its priorities would be economic growth, an even development of all EU member countries, energy and digital connectivity, internal and external security and the EU's global role, the statement said.

More news about relationships between Croatia and Germany can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Croatia and Germany Jointly Preparing Chairmanship of European Council

ZAGREB, September 9, 2019 - Germany and Croatia will work together on preparing to chair the European Council next year and that chairmanship is a great chance for Croatia, it was said following a meeting on Monday in Berlin between Germany's and Croatia's foreign ministers, Heiko Maas and Gordan Grlić Radman respectively.

The most important task that awaits us is chairing the European Council next year. That is a great challenge but also a great chance for Croatia, Maas said after the meeting.

Croatia's chairmanship will be in the first six months and Germany will preside in the following six months next year.

Maas underlined that joint preparations to chair the European Council require a high level of coordination between Germany and Croatia, not just bilaterally but on the European plane too.

Croatia's chairmanship in the first half of next year comes at an exceptionally important period. Early November the new European Commission will begin working. Then there is Brexit which will certainly be a topic next year too. And there is an agreement on the European Union's long-term financial framework, Maas said, announcing that in order to assist with operational preparations and coordination of chairmanship, a German foreign ministry official would be deployed in Zagreb in the first half of next year.

Grlić Radman underlined that Croatia's priorities during its chairmanship of the European Council will be sustainable development of countries and regions, with special focus on demographic revival, infrastructure connectivity and citizens' security, with focus on protecting the European Union's external borders.

The two ministers discussed Croatia's strategic foreign policy objectives, one of the most important being its accession to the Schengen Area, and Croatia enjoys Germany's full support in this aspiration.

Maas reiterated Germany's stance regarding the protection of the EU's external borders and that Berlin advocates that more funds should be allocated for it.

We want to better support countries on the EU's external borders than has been the case until now, he said.

Maas underlined that EU enlargement is one of the challenges during chairmanship of the European Council next year.

That will be a very important issue for Croatia as a sort of bypass to the Western Balkans, he added.

Grlić Radman underscored the importance of EU enlargement to Western Balkan countries.

The Western Balkans is our immediate neighbourhood and we are interested in peace and stability in this region, Grlić Radman said and announced a summit on the Western Balkans that will be held during Croatia's chairmanship of the European Council.

Grlić Radman emphasised that Croatia supports opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October this year and underlined the need to continue talks on European prospects of other countries in the region as well, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We want equality for all the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina so that it can be a functioning state with a European prospect, said Grlić Radman.

Maas said the fact that Grlić Radman had until recently been Croatia's Ambassador to Germany is very useful, particularly with regard to developing bilateral relations.

Maas and Grlić Radman also discussed an action plan to develop bilateral relations that was signed in March this year.

We have taken significant steps in a lot of areas in that regard, said Maas.

Grlić Radman said he expected the action plan to additionally strengthen relations between Germany and Croatia as well as provide a broader dimension to the partnership between the two countries within the European Union.

He noted the importance of economic relations and expressed hope that these relations will improve even more.

We particularly underline the automobile, IT, food and wood manufacturing industries as having potential for further cooperation, Grlić Radman said and announced that Germany's Minister of for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Almaier would visit Croatia next month.

Later today Grlić Radman is expected to meet with Norbert Roettgen, the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the German Bundestag, and with the chairman of the Committee on European Union Affairs, Gunther Kirchbaum.

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

Thursday, 5 September 2019

German-Based IoT Company Investing in Business, Jobs in Croatia

ZAGREB, September 5, 2019 - The Aconno company from Germany that specialises in IoT technology and products intends to invest more than €250,000 in Croatia over the next few months and open offices in Zagreb and Osijek that will employ about a dozen people, it was said at a presentation of the company in Zagreb on Wednesday.

The company is seated in Dusseldorf and these will be its first offices abroad. Its core business is IoT technology which is related to connecting apparatuses to cloud via the internet and is becoming more and more prevalent in life-style and business operations.

Aconno quickly developed from a start-up to doing business around the world. In the second year of its operations, in 2016, it generated a revenue of 400,000 euro, in 2018 that increased to 800,000 euro and this year the company expects a revenue of €1 million euro, Aconno's CEO Miroslav Šimudvarac said.

Šimudvarac is a Croat, originally from Vukovar. This contributed to the decision that the company's first expansion outside of Germany be in Croatia, he and Thomas Hollwedel, with whom he launched the company, said, as did the fact that they have come across some very talented and capable young IT experts, programmers and developers in Croatia and very quickly agreed on doing business together.

We intend to employ an additional 70 people in the future with attractive wages because we see talented people here with a lot of know-how and skills that we need, Hollwedel said.

He underlined Croatia's advantages of being close to European markets as well as having a developed ICT sector and kind people. He added, however, that in the process of launching the company in Croatia they were faced with numerous administrative and bureaucratic obstacles.

Šimudvarac said that since being launched the company has invested about 1.2 million euro in developing its business and that IoT (Internet of Things-Internet) isn't just about software but also products and hardware, sensors, chips and so on.

More news about investments in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Ministry: Diplomats Supposed to Comply with Croatia's Official Policy

ZAGREB, August 18, 2019 - Being prompted by a growing interest of the public in the case of diplomat Elizabeta Mađarević and xenophobic views expressed on her Facebook profile, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday afternoon that diplomats accept the responsibility of representing their country abroad and are supposed to comply with Croatia's official policies.

According to the web portal, Mađarević, who became the first secretary in Croatia's embassy in Berlin in January 2019, has spread racist and xenophobic views on her Facebook profile and advocated anti-migrant and anti-LGBT attitudes.

Following this report made by the web portal, the Croatian ministry promptly responded on Friday evening when it "strongly distances itself from the views which its employee Elizabeta Mađarević, a staff member of the Croatian Embassy in Berlin since January 2019, has posted on social networks, as reported by".

The ministry said last night that the diplomat had been recalled to Zagreb and that all the facts regarding the case would be established without delay.

On Saturday, the Mađarević case made top news in electronic media outlets.

A growing public interest in this case has prompted the ministry to state on Saturday afternoon that "diplomats are aware that all they do during their diplomatic mandate, both privately and in their free time, can be connected and is connected with their diplomatic job."

The right to a different opinion and freedom of expression cannot mean that Croatia's Constitution and other laws as well as international conventions can be disrespected, the ministry explains.

People who have chosen a diplomatic career accept the responsibility of representing their country and all institutions and people of their homeland abroad during their diplomatic mandate both officially and privately and they are supposed to adhere to the official policy of Croatia, the ministry noted.

The ministry distances itself from any statements or behaviour marked by xenophobia, racism and other forms of intolerance, made by anybody in the diplomatic service regardless of the rank of that person in the diplomatic hierarchy.

Under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, interfering into the internal affairs of the Receiving State, which includes comments of foreign diplomats on office holders in the Receiving State, is unacceptable, the ministry underscores.

"Diplomats are sent to missions abroad to strengthen the reputation of the Republic of Croatia and not to harm its image and do political damage."

According to the web portal, Mađarević has criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her migrant policy.

The ministry reiterated that the procedure is under way to establish all the relevant facts in connection with the case.

In the meantime, the diplomat has stated that her Facebook profile is hacked.

"My profile is hacked. I am shocked with contents cited by media. Being a professional, I fully share the policy of the Government of the Republic of Croatia. None of those media outlets have contacted me to ask me about that statement," Mađarević told on Saturday afternoon the Fenix Magazin, which is published in Frankfurt by the Croatian expat community.

She went on to say that she is currently vacationing outside Croatia and is now thinking of filing lawsuits against those who are disseminating the untruth.

Mađarević does not believe that she is the target of those accusations but that they are directed against the Croatian government and the new Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Radman Grlić who was until recently Croatia's Ambassador to Germany.

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

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