Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Import of Foreign Workers Hampered by Croatian Bureaucracy

November the 16th, 2021 - The import of foreign labour from outside the EEA into Croatia, typically from neighbouring countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, is proving cumbersome with the infamously slow and arduous Croatian bureaucracy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Dario Knezevic writes, with the stil impaired liquidity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ''getting the staff'' and having a qualified workforce is still the biggest problem of the Croatian hospitality and catering industry, especially since wages in the sector are still low and workers prefer to choose other occupations or instead opt for emigration.

Importing workers is currently an inevitable solution as the situation grows more tense, but there are a lot of problems in this regard as well, because there is a long procedure for obtaining work permits for foreigners and Croatian bureaucracy is still running at a snail's pace, hampered by draconian laws and what often seem to be senseless rules.

The sector is still plagued by high tax burdens, and the biggest problems are being faced cafes and nightclubs who suffered tremendously during lockdowns, warned participants in the Zagreb Caterers' Forum, held on Friday and organised by the Zagreb Caterers' Association and the Independent Caterers' Association.

Cafes are on the brink of survival

"Coffee bars and nightclubs have had and continue to have a very hard time surviving, when they have little or no traffic, restaurants are doing a little better because they haven't been closed for as long as bars and clubs were, and their traffic drop is around 30 percent when compared to 2019. If we fail to make more money during the advent season, we will have a very harsh winter and the number of 1,100 closed restaurants in Zagreb could increase in relation to the very beginning of the pandemic,'' warned Zakline Troskot, president of the Independent Association of Caterers.

Officially, three requests were sent from the Forum of Caterers to the City of Zagreb. They're looking for resolutions to the problem of being allowed to operate as normal in open spaces and on outdoor terraces. They are also seeking the lowering the coefficient of utility fees for these companies from 10 down to 7, as well as more involvement from representatives of those in the hospitality and catering sector when it comes to decision-making.

They want the state to reintroduce economic assistance measures to keep jobs and reimburse fixed costs, speed up the tragic state of Croatian bureaucracy, ie the process of issuing work permits for non-EU foreigners and further tax relief, in order to ensure higher incomes of employees working in the hospitality sector.

Namely, with the exception of large employers, wages in tourism and catering are still low, and many employers don't have room for raises due to the coronavirus pandemic, and workers are leaving en masse. Quality foreign workers aren't easy to come by either.

As it has been shown that workers from neighbouring countries manage and fit in much better among foreign workers than from distant cultures, the emphasis is on the search for workers in Croatia's immediate region, but the issue is that these European countries are not EEA/EU member states. This means that the paperwork and red rape is even more of a hassle for would-be employers.

The president of the Croatian Tourism Union, Eduard Andric, revealed that his union is negotiating with the Macedonian union, in order to bring Macedonian seasonal workers in an organised manner with less paperwork and fuss. According to current interest, there are about 5,000 to 10,000 of them.

At the same time, the Macedonians are willing and interested in their employers to give them some preparatory training, whether someone comes to them or they come to Croatia a little earlier for some training.

''Because as much as Macedonians are willing to work, we've had situations where they didn't know things like the names of certain drinks, the names of certain dishes, and we'd have to really educate them to make it better,'' pointed out Andric, adding that workers from that country are more desirable to work in Croatia than, for example, Filipinos, as their culture and language are closer, and communication is therefore far easier.

He revealed that they are also talking to Slovenes about a model to employ their workers in this country during the summer, and for them to go to Slovenia in the winter, which has more developed winter tourism. And this will be worked on in cooperation with the Slovenian trade union.

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Monday, 15 November 2021

Istrian Town Holds Record For Number of Primary School Students

November the 15th, 2021 - One Istrian town has set the record for the most primary school children in the Republic of Croatia in spite of the demographic crisis which has plagued Croatia for many years now.

As Morski writes, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), last year, almost two thousand fewer students were enrolled in primary schools across the country's cities than were enrolled back in 2019 - 225,789 students, and the year before that there 227,547 students. For this school year, the CBS hasn't yet published the data, but according to what can be seen from the eRudnik application, the number of students has again been reduced by about 2,000. Over the past eight years, only the City of Zagreb and Istria County have had an increase in the number of students, and last year only 38 cities recorded a positive trend, as reported by the portal mayor.hr/gradonacelnik.hr

With an increase of 36 students in the school year 2020/2021. Compared to the year before, Poreč is the leading city in Croatia in terms of the number of enrolled primary school students, which is an increase of 2.81 percent compared to the year before.

Today, the popular Istrian town of Porec is one of only a few cities in the entire country that can boast of positive demographic trends - from 2018 until today, the number of students in primary schools in that particular Istrian town has increased from 1538 to 1635 students. Porec responded to such positive demographic movements in a timely manner with investments, in order to provide all of Porec's children with a proper high quality education. From 2017 until today, two new primary schools have been built for a total of 700 students, along with additional halls and all other necessary infrastructure. Thanks to these investments, all children from this Istrian town attend their classes in one morning shift.

In order for Porec to remain a desirable place to live, grow up and gain a good education, the City of Porec awards the largest scholarships in the country for their students, co-finances the purchase of textbooks and other educational materials for students, co-finances primary school programmes above the typical standard with more than six million kuna per year, co-finances the transport of students studying in secondary schools in Porec and neighbouring areas for about 180 students, encourages learning Italian in Porec's secondary schools by financing teachers' salaries, and additionally provides funds for salaries to assistants in schools for students with disabilities.

On top of all of the above, this Istrian town co-finances the activities of the Centre for Community Services, which has an array of programmes aimed at children, families, the elderly and particularly vulnerable groups of people with with the aim of providing psychosocial and health support, as well as numerous other social assistance and support measures and additional measures for single-parent families.

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

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Experts at Catholic Social Week Warn About Croatia’s Demographic Crisis

ZAGREB, 24 Oct, 2021- The Sixth Croatian Social Week, which was organised by the Catholic Church in the country, on Saturday adopted a declaration which underscores that Croatia is in a deep demographic crisis and calls on the authorities to take measures to halt negative trends.

The declaration, adopted at the end of the event that brought together about 200 participants, warns about a demographic failure in Croatia due to the intensive decrease in the number of newborns and demographic ageing.

The document says that the country lacks a long-term strategy and a supra-party policy to address the issue.

The declaration recommends that the population strategies should encompass pro-natalist and moderate migration policies.

The participants in the event concluded that in the future Croatia would have to cope to a greater extent with the issues regarding migrations.

They also call for more attention to be paid to expats coming back to Croatia.

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Pandemic Worsened Demographic Trends But Also Created New Opportunities

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - A conference on demographic challenges in Croatia and the EU after the pandemic brought together in Zagreb on Thursday members of the scientific community and government officials who said that COVID-19 had negatively affected demographic trends but also opened new opportunities on the labor market.

European Commissioner Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said statistical data for 2020 indicated a continuing decline in the birth rate in the majority of member states.

However, COVID has also opened new opportunities, primarily in the labor market, with increasingly frequent remote work, said Šuica, concluding that digital and green transition had become key to success.

This has opened opportunities for Croatia, not just for its young people but in terms of the country's attractiveness as a place to live in for other European Union citizens, Šuica added.

If we want to keep young people in Croatia and make it more attractive, we have to invest in regional development, transport connectivity, and hyper-connectivity. The European recovery plan, she said, is a unique opportunity to come out of the pandemic stronger, greener, and more digitized.

Šuica noted that in slightly more than a year, demography has been imposed as the third unavoidable transition for the European Commission.

In Croatia, about 100 people are born a day while 150 die

The prime minister's special envoy and chief-of-staff, Zvonimir Frka Petešić, said that the conference needs to include all generations and that today's topic is important for Croatia which, along with another 15 member states, is faced with an aging population.

Croatia's population has been decreasing since 1991, and about 150 people die each day while about 100 are born, which is why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković stressed last year that the nation's demographic survival is a strategic issue, said Frka Petešić.

He recalled that after the European election in 2019, Croatia had asked that the EU's new strategic program include demography as a priority. During its presidency of the EU, Croatia led the process of adopting conclusions on demographic challenges which made it possible for future demographic measures to be financed from European funds.

How much the EU has aged can be seen in data which shows that in 1900 the population of today's EU countries accounted for 25% of the world population while today it accounts for only 5.5%, said Frka Petešić.

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Saturday, 11 September 2021

First Phase of Croatian 2021 Census Begins on Monday

September the 11th, 2021 - The Croatian 2021 census is about to get underway, and as of Monday, you can fill in your details for yourself and other members of your household online via the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a press conference entitled “CENSUS 21” from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society was held yesterday on the occasion of the beginning of the first digital Census of the Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia 2021.

Namely, from September the 13th to October the 17th, 2021, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) will conduct the very first digital Census of the Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia in two phases and in two ways, and residents of the country will be able to choose the census method they prefer. Namely, in the first phase, people will be able to fill in the Croatian 2021 census through the popular e-Citizens system.

The first phase of the Croatian 2021 census

The first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system will continue from September the 13th to the 26th, and the second phase of enumeration, when enumerators will go out onto the field, will last from September the 27th to October the 17th, according to the CBS.

Those running the process have called on all of Croatia's residents to please find a few minutes to enumerate themselves in the first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system.

During this period, they will have the opportunity to independently list themselves and all of the members of their household when it suits them best. One household member with a credential to use the e-Citizens platform is enough to list their household and all its members. After completing the Croatian 2021 census questionnaire and successfully completing and sending off the e-census, the respondent will receive a unique control code generated at the time of submission of the e-census, which is evidence of having already gone through the process online, independently.

The control code should then be written down on paper, photographed or printed and saved until the second phase of the Croatian 2011 census (field census) takes place, so that the respondent can give the control code to the enumerator to control the scope of the census.

One e-Citizens credential is enough for the whole household

You can also list your elderly relatives (parents, grandparents or someone else) who live in another household with their credentials, the CBS points out. The rule in e-enumeration is that one household is enumerated with one credential.

The census is based on a statement

According to the Law on Official Statistics, all data collected during the Croatian 2021 census is secret and will be used exclusively for statistical purposes, in other words, the census is not the basis for exercising any rights or obligations, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

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Friday, 3 September 2021

Croatian Census in Two Weeks, Fines for Those Who Refuse to Partake

September the 3rd, 2021 - The Croatian census is due to be carried out in two weeks, and every single resident of Croatia needs to partake. If you refuse to do so, a fine of between 2,000 and 5,000 kuna could be issued to you.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, every inhabitant single legal resident of the Republic of Croatia is subject to the Croatian Census Act, according to which every person who refuses to be enumerated faces a fine of two to five thousand kuna.

Lidija Brkovic, the director of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), spoke for local portal Glas Slavonije about the Croatian census, which is set to begin in two weeks following a coronavirus-induced delay earlier on in the year.

"The Croatian census is based on an individual statement, and the enumerator has no right to ask for documents or check the answers that a person gives. Every resident of Croatia is subject to is the Act on the Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia in 2021, which provides for the issuing of fines from 2,000 to 5,000 kuna for a misdemeanor of a natural person if they refuse to provide their data for the census. People can have full confidence in the Central Bureau of Statistics because all the data collected by the Bureau remains an official secret,'' assured Brkovic.

Two phases of the 2021 Croatian census - online and offline

The Croatian census will be conducted in two phases - the first will be a ''self-census'' of residents online through the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system, followed by a field census of those who didn't register online. The fieldwork begins on September the 27th and will run through until October the 17th, 2021.

“The first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system will last from September the 13th to the 26th, and just one person in the household who uses the system is enough and will be able to enumerate all members of their household. If more than one household member uses the e-Citizens system, it still must only be one person listing all of the household members,'' said Brkovic.

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Thursday, 12 August 2021

Croatian Census Coming, Refusal to Participate Could Result in Fine

August the 12th, 2021 - The Croatian census is set to begin in the surprisingly short time of just three weeks. With no campaign to get people's attention to speak of, there are questions as to how it will go being posed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, former Central Bureau of Statistics' director Marko Kristof spoke for N1 about the upcoming Croatian census, the largest project of the Central Bureau of Statistics that is conducted every ten years.

"This is the most demanding statistical survey and the largest activity of any statistical office. Its a huge job and a great methodological and communication challenge,'' warned Kristof, adding that this year's Croatian census is even more demanding because the data from different sources will all be combined. Namely, in addition to contacting residents in the field, residents will be able to fill in the censues themselves through the popular e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system.

“Filling in the Croatian census through the e-citizens system is a transition to the complete abolition of the census. Modern countries no longer conduct the census by going door to door,'' Kristof stated, adding that he believes this will be a very good step forward.

There are three weeks left until the Croatian census starts being carried out, and Kristof points out that not much information about it is even known yet - no campaign has been conducted to explain to residents what the census is for and that the key thing is to enumerate people in their usual places of residence. He hopes, he says, that things in this regard will be done in a proper and timely manner.

As for the date itself, he says it's good that the reference date has been moved from the traditional March the 31st, when the epidemic was much stronger than it is now. "The second thing is that if the census had been conducted then, it would have been too politicised,'' he explained.

He stated that the biggest challenge in any census is to determine the permanent population: ''When you have several different choices, it's an additional challenge. There's a list of households and dwellings, not just a list of people. The key thing is whether the person was staying in the place where he/she was listed at the reference moment.

"There's a consensus among demographers that there will be less than four million of us"

Kristof says it is necessary to enumerate the entire population and if a person refuses to participate, there is a possibility of punishment. but he isn't at all sure how that could ever be implemented.

He expects the number of Croatian residents to be smaller. "There's a consensus among demographers that there will be less than four million residents of Croatia. The population will be the biggest challenge. We'll find out how many people are listed, but when it comes to the exact number of residents, we'll need to wait a while. European regulations say the official results should come two years after the census is carried out. We could get the final results at the end of 2022,'' he said.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

Dugopolje Municipality Tackling Demography Issue with Higher "Newborn Sums"

July the 22nd, 2021 - The Dugopolje Municipality near Split has decided to raise the cash sum it gives to new parents in an attempt to encourage the birth of more children in the area.

Croatia's demographic crisis didn't come about with the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many people take the plunge and head abroad in search of more stability following lockdowns and restrictions within the tourism industry, on which many jobs rely. It wasn't even new when the country finally joined the European Union back in July 2013 and when borders opened for the Croatian labour force.

Waves of emigration are very common for Croatia, with a huge number of people leaving during the 70s, 80s and 90s, typically, at least back then, for political reasons. Now, while politics certainly continues to play a significant role, it isn't the only deciding factor for most. The desire for a country with more economic stability, less red tape and a more forgiving system is what drives most people outside of Croatian borders, and the demographic crisis didn't even wane when travel restrictions were harsher last year, with many Croats still leaving to the likes of Ireland and Germany without looking back.

While the typically overlooked region of Eastern Croatia has always been dominant in this trend, with villages and towns emptying out at a worrying rate, the demographic crisis has spread further, with even ''richer'' areas where jobs were usually far easier to come by such as Dalmatia seeing people hop on planes and coaches with one way tickets. The Dugopolje Municipality has, as a result, opted to up the cash fee given to parents for each child born in the area.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Perica Bosancic, the mayor of Dugopolje, a municipality with about 3,500 inhabitants close to Solin (formerly Salona) took to Facebook to post about the increase in fees for newborn children in the Dugopolje Municipality.

As he wrote, the fee for the first born child will be 5,000 kuna, instead of the previous 3,000 kuna, and for the second 10,000 kuna instead of the previous 5,000 kuna.

''We announced this back on the 18th of April, and on July 20th, we kept our promise. We increased the benefits for newborns from 3,000 kuna to 5,000 kuna for the first child, from 5,000 kuna to 10,000 kuna for the second, and for the third, we increased the benefit to 15,000 kuna. Each subsequent child will see the parents paid an additional 15,000 kuna (meaning that the fourth child is is 30,000 kuna, the fifth is 45,000 kuna, etc.…). I'd like to thank the councilors for unanimously supporting this proposal,'' Bosancic wrote on Facebook.

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Sunday, 4 July 2021

Many Newer Croatian Emigrants Seeking German Citizenship

July the 4th, 2021 - The vast majority of newer Croatian emigrants have a poor perception of their homeland, with a fourth of them planning to adopt German nationality and apparently leave any trace of Croatia behind them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, only around eight percent of parents from the newer generation of Croatian emigrants have enrolled their children in some form of Croatian curriculum in Germany, and more than 27 percent want to take out German citizenship, Vecernji list reports.

In addition, newer Croatian emigrants also visit Croatian Catholic missions/parishes less and have been removed from the register of those of the Catholic faith over in Germany.

This was shown by the research of political scientist and historian Tade Juric from the Croatian Catholic University entitled ''The perception of emigrants about Croatia" conducted in the diaspora in Germany on a sample of 1,200 respondents in 2018 and 534 respondents in 2021.

While many older Croatian emigrants, Juric points out, have lived for Croatia for most of their lives and invested all their capital, knowledge and emotions into the country, new research shows that the recent emigration from the so-called ''EU wave'' of emigration doesn't really have much of this idealisation of the homeland, on the contrary, a negative image among them prevails.

By the end of December 2020, Croatia had only 4.036 million inhabitants according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), and the emigration of citizens was't stopped during last year's pandemic-dominated travel chaos, in which 34,046 citizens still emigrated from Croatia, with 33,414 people immigrating to Croatia. Last year, 26,355 citizens emigrated to Germany alone.

Juric's research shows that Croatian emigrants believe that homeland and those who have left Croatia aren't effectively and successfully connected, that Croats in the homeland have a negative attitude towards Croatian emigrants and nurture numerous prejudices towards emigrants, but also that Croatia doesn't do enough to help emigrants and Croats outside Croatia.

''More than half of the newer Croatian emigrants have an extremely negative perception of the Croatian Government (HDZ) and events in the homeland, and only 5.6 percent have maintained a positive perception of Croatia at all,'' explained Juric.

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Friday, 28 May 2021

Croatian Demographic Crisis Continues with 20,000 People Lost Annually

May the 28th, 2021 - The coronavirus crisis might be the ''crisis of the moment'' as morbid as that sounds, but the Croatian demographic crisis is never far from the surface. The issues with people not only leaving but dying in Croatia are dire, and with losses of 20,000 people per year, plus emigration, the country is in a horrendous position demographically.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the number one topic which needs to be discussed is demography because Croatia at the very end of the world in terms of demographic trends, warned Marin Strmota from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb. By combining emigration and population loss, Croatia is losing its working-age population, which has devastating consequences. With the fall in birth rates, Strmota warns, we're losing 20,000 people a year, and if emigration is added to that account, the Croatian demographic picture is the worst on the planet.

"The most affected countries are Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia," Strmota said. In the last wave of emigration to Ireland and Germany in the last 7-8 years, about 400,000 people with Croatian citizenship emigrated.

"The problem is the age structure, it's an economic problem. The able-bodied people emigrate, which means that the share of those who pay into the pension and social security system is continually decreasing. Unfortunately, we can't escape from that, even the most optimistic forecasts don't see an increase in the workforce happening,'' added Strmota.

An additional but pressing issue for the Croatian demographic picture is that the labour market is entered late only to be left very early on, and there is an imbalance of what employers need and the skills and knowledge that Croatian workers have,'' added Strmota's faculty colleague Kresimir Ivanda.

“A fifth of those between the ages of 25 and 29 aren't working or are looking for work, and the situation is even worse with early retirements after the age of 50 when economic activity is rapidly declining,” he says.

"Croatia has the second shortest working life in Europe, of a mere 33 years, and 78 years is the average life expectancy," Ivanda illustrated.

"In terms of education and workforce, Croatia is currently where developed countries like Germany were decades ago. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the European Union is a single labour market and young people can apply to work anywhere in the bloc, and Croatia must figure out how to be the best of all to attract workers, and not just be a transit zone to other countries,'' he concluded.

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