Thursday, 7 July 2022

Czech PM Vows Maximum Efforts to Complete Process of Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, 7 July 2022 - The Czech Republic will do its utmost to ensure that Croatia's accession to the Schengen zone is completed during the Czech presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2022, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said during his meeting with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković in Prague on Thursday.

The meeting took place after the Czech Republic took over the rotating EU presidency on 1 July.

The Czech Republic has always supported and continues to support Croatia's admission to the Schengen zone. We are confident that Croatia meets all the criteria. We will do all we can to ensure that the accession process is completed during our presidency and that Croatia becomes a full member of the Schengen zone on 1 January 2023, Fiala said.

The Croatian prime minister praised the Czech presidency programme under the motto "Europe as a Task".

Europe as a Task: Rethink, Rebuild, Repower are the main priorities of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Plenković said that these priorities fit the present time of challenges, such as the Covid pandemic, which still requires caution and vigilance, and Russia's terrible aggression against Ukraine and the fallout of the war, including increased prices and inflation pressure.

Plenković said that one of the highlights of the Czech presidency will be the adoption of the decision on Croatia's entry into the euro area on 1 January 2023.

"We believe that this autumn, under the Czech leadership of the EU, the final decision will be made on Croatia's entry into the Schengen zone on 1 January 2023," said Plenković, underscoring that this also meant deeper integration of his country into the EU.

Plenković said that Croatia appreciated the wish of Prague to put emphasis on southeastern European countries during its EU chairmanship.

For us this is particularly important because of Bosnia and Herzegovina, given that we together have advocated that it be granted the status of EU candidate. We expect BiH to implement the reforms, particularly those conducive to ensuring the equality of the Croats as soon as possible, said Plenković.

The Czech and Croatian premiers expressed their satisfaction with bilateral relations and with the activities of the respective minorities in their countries.

Commenting on the well-developed and diversified economic cooperation, Plenković said that the trade between the two countries was close to reaching €1 billion.

The Czech Republic is among the top 15 investors in Croatia, and the Czechs are the second most numerous foreign visitors to Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

2023 Croatia Summer Flight Schedule to Kick Off with New Schengen Rules

June 30, 2022 - Border controls should be lifted at Croatian airports from March 26, 2023, as Croatia becomes part of the single Schengen area. This means that the 2023 Croatia summer flight schedule will kick off with new rules. 

When the Republic of Croatia becomes part of the single Schengen area on January 1 next year, travel from or to Croatian airports will be significantly easier, writes Croatian Aviation

On Wednesday, the EU Council proposed that border controls at Croatia's land and sea borders with Schengen countries be abolished from January 1, 2023, and at airports from March 26 next year. Thus, at the beginning of the new year, Croatia should become a member of the Schengen area, which will simplify travel to and from Croatian airports.

If all goes well, border controls will be lifted on January 1 at seaports and road border crossings, while the same should take effect on March 26 at all Croatian airports.

Namely, with the stated date, the summer flight schedule comes into force, so it is logistically easier to make the change just then, and at the same time the airports are given enough time to prepare.

At Croatian airports, it is necessary to change the existing passenger flows, given that currently there are fewer departures at airports for flights within the Republic of Croatia, while now flights to and from all Schengen member states will be treated as "domestic".

This means that passengers traveling from Croatia on direct flights to destinations in the member states of this area (26 European countries), after checking in for the flight and security control, will go to the exit for their flight without crossing the border or police control.

All Croatian airports must have the infrastructural possibility of separating passengers arriving or departing to destinations in the Schengen area, as well as to destinations outside it.

This means that, for example, when traveling from Zagreb to Split, Osijek, Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or any other destination located in a Schengen member country, the exit to the aircraft will go without checking your identity document, but the border control still exists when traveling to Istanbul, London, Doha, Dubai, Sarajevo, Belgrade or other destinations outside Schengen. The same, of course, applies to all other Croatian airports.

Croatian airports have enough time to prepare and change passenger flows until the spring of 2023 when Croatia finally feels another advantage of membership in the European Union, and preparations have been underway for months.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

EC Again Calls for Admitting Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen

ZAGREB, 24 May 2022 - The European Commission on Tuesday reiterated its recommendation that three EU member states -- Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania -- should be admitted to the Schengen Area after they met the membership criteria.

Today the EC presented its State of Schengen Report 2022. This is the first time the Commission is presenting such a report, following last year's Schengen Strategy.

The report also "reminds of the importance of completing the Schengen area and calls upon the Council to adopt the decisions to allow Croatia, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, to formally become a part of it, in view of the fact that all criteria have been fulfilled. The same will apply to Cyprus once it has successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process."

The State of Schengen report will serve as the basis for discussions of Members of the European Parliament and Home Affairs Ministers in the Schengen Forum on 2 June, and in the upcoming Schengen Council on 10 June.

The report sets a list of priority actions for 2022-2023 that are to be addressed at both national and European levels such as implementing the new IT architecture and interoperability for border management, making full use of cross-border cooperation tools, ensuring systematic checks at the external borders of all travelers, ensuring that Frontex reaches the full potential of its mandate, lifting all long-lasting internal border controls, and adopting the revised Schengen Borders Code.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

PM Says Croatia Will Not Erect Fence on Border With BiH After Schengen Area Entry

ZAGREB, 18 Dec, 2021 - Once it enters the Schengen area of passport-free travel, Croatia will not erect a fence on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with the Večernji List daily Saturday issue.

Commenting on his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this week, Plenković said that Croatia supports BiH's sovereignty and integrity as well as its spirit as agreed in Dayton - one state, two entities and three equal constituent peoples, noting that Croatia will not allow the inequality of Croats in relation to the other two constituent peoples.

"My position is clear and I reiterated it once again in Sarajevo and Mostar - Croatia will not erect a fence or a wall on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. That border connects us and that will remain so after Croatia's accession to the Schengen area. But that makes cooperation between our police forces and other relevant services extremely important, so that we can prevent illegal migrations," he said.

Schengen entry is not only a major privilege, it is also a major obligation for Croatia. Our state border with BiH, Serbia and Montenegro will become the external Schengen border and that is why effective, responsible and thorough control of the border will be a permanent task of the Croatian border police, Plenković said.

He added that agreement was reached during his visit to Sarajevo on the continuation of talks on a possible change of the categories of individual border crossings and on facilitating the flow of people and goods in line with EU regulations.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Croatian Eurozone Accession: Changes to Begin as Early as Next Summer

September the 23rd, 2021 - Croatian Eurozone accession might still seem like a far away event on the domestic political stage, but it is edging ever closer and things are set to start being quite significantly different as of next summer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, preparations for Croatian Eurozone accession have already started, and one of the measures is to ensure that prices don't increase significantly, which is something most people fear when asked what their worries surrounding the process of phasing out the Croatian kuna is.

Tihomir Mavricek pointed out that this will be among the very first things that will be tackled, and that the fixed exchange rate will be determined just before the decision of the EU Council on the introduction of the euro as Croatia's official currency.

"It will be around 7.53, but it will finally be determined in May or June next year and will become valid from January the 1st, 2023. Until December the 31st, 2022, the commercial exchange rate will be valid, it'll be as we have it now," he explained for HRT.

"There's no need to be afraid of price increases"

Many people are afraid of price increases as a result of Croatian Eurozone accession, but Mavricek has assured that the practice of countries that have already adopted the euro has shown that the replacement of the national currency has had very little effect on price growth, ie inflation.

"The countries that first adopted the euro had a small so-called harmonised growth of the consumer price index, which ranged between 0.09 and 0.28 percentage points. Countries that later adopted the euro had one which stood at around 0.3 - so we don't expect any significant impact on prices, maybe of some 0.37 percentage points, with the biggest impact coming from services and a slightly smaller number of commonly used products, such as pastries and newspapers,'' said Mavricek.

After the introduction of the euro in neighbouring Slovenia, prices in transport, restaurants and hairdressing/beauty salons increased, while in Slovakia the prices of food and construction works increased.

"Research has shown that these increases mostly regard products that don't affect people with lower incomes when compared to those with higher incomes, such as sectors like accommodation services, restaurants, and sports services - these are usually services used by people with higher incomes," explained Mavricek.

For more on Croatian Eurozone accession, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

How Will Croatian Schengen and Eurozone Entry Help Exporters?

September the 7th, 2021 - The country's many exporters are set to have life made that bit easier for them with Croatian Schengen entry on the horizon, further aided by the country finally entering the Eurozone.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric recently said that for small and open economies, such as that boasted Croatia, exports are a prerequisite for development and survival.

"The country's GDP has been growing for years now, and of late, exports have been one of the main factors when it comes to economic growth and economic recovery. Exports recorded very good results even during pandemic-dominated 2020. This year, we've been recording a large recovery in terms of exports with 60 billion kuna, which is 11 billion kuna more than in pre-crisis 2019,'' said Coric.

He added that we must be careful in this analysis of the growth of the value of Croatian exports, because part of it is related to global inflation.

Minister Coric also pointed out that the achieved results are due to about 20,000 Croatian exporters who are the largest employers in the country, who also generate the largest share of total income and investments. He stated that both EU and national funds are a major source of funding for innovation and competitiveness of the domestic economy in the wake of the Green Plan.

"I'm aware of the challenges that Croatian exporters have been facing for years, and the Government is making great efforts to overcome bureaucratic obstacles for Croatian businessmen, and especially exporters, for greater growth and exports. By joining the Eurozone in two years, we'll take an additional step forward in eliminating exchange rate risks faced by Croatian entrepreneurs when doing business on our most important market - the single market.

In addition to the above, Croatian Schengen entry will be a benefit for all of the country's exporters because it will simplify and speed up mobility,'' concluded Minister Coric.

For more on Croatian Schengen and Eurozone entry, make sure to follow our politics section.

Monday, 5 July 2021

With Croatian Eurozone Entry Coming, Economist Talks Price Rises

July the 5th, 2021 - Croatian Eurozone entry might seem a far away event, but it is edging ever closer with discussions about what the Croatian design on Euro coins taking place. What will happen if you're making loan payments in Croatian currency? The details so far.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Thursday, after a session of the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujcic stood before the press and talked about Croatian Eurozone entry. Plenkovic said that they were convinced that the country would be ready to enter the Eurozone on January the 1st, 2023, and Vujcic added that until that date, we need to work "at full speed".

The question of how ready Croatia actually is for this step and whether the aforementioned period is long enough to prepare everything was discussed by economic analyst dr. Sc. Petar Vuskovic, who believes that in technical terms, Croatian Eurozone entry can happen relatively quickly.

"Croatia is already highly euroised. This means that the kuna is just a currency model. In that sense, we're ready for the euro. We have to convert the kuna, adjust the ATM system, and harmonise accounting items,'' explained Vuskovic for Net.hr.

When people start talking about Croatian Eurozone entry and the removal of the kuna, what worries people the most is that with the arrival of the euro, everything will become more expensive.

"The rise in prices due to the introduction of the euro will not occur because the rise in prices is predominantly dependent on the movement of raw material and energy prices. If you look at the countries that have already adopted the euro, price growth was at most a mere 0.3 percent. Annual inflation is, for example, one percent,'' explained Vuskovic, before adding:

"The euro will reduce loan installments. Countries that have the euro are considered currency-safe, so the cost of capital is lower. The euro means more than two billion kuna to the market that exchange offices and banks would have taken during exchange operations,'' Vuskovic concluded.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

New Consul: Italy Gives Biggest Support to Croatia's Schengen Membership Bid

ZAGREB, February 26, 2020 - The new Italian Consul-General in Rijeka, Davide Bradanini, said on Tuesday that the two countries have had extremely good relations for years and that Italy provides Croatia with the greatest support for its efforts to join the passport-free Schengen Area.

During his visit to the Istrian city of Pula, the consul said that the two countries had developed good relations and cooperation in the economic, political, cultural and tourism sectors.

"So far, a lot has been done in those sectors, and I would like to deepen our shared interests and cooperation in all fields," said Bradanini.

He praised Pula and Istria for the rights and entitlements enjoyed by the local Italian community.

"I am aware of the fact that the Italian minority here is a great asset," Bradanini said.

The acting Istria County prefect Fabrizio Radin said that although Croatia is part of the European Union, the current border system is still a barrier, underlining the importance of Croatia's admission to the Schengen Area.

Pula Mayor Boris Miletić said he is proud of the city's statute which guarantees rights to all ethnic minorities in Istria's largest city.

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

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