Monday, 13 January 2020

Poor Economic Climate Slowing Down Opening of Croatian Companies

As Adriano Milovan/Novac writes on the 12th of January, 2020, the poor entrepreneurial/economic climate, money worries and mass emigration are increasingly reflected in the dynamics of opening new Croatian companies and businesses.

According to Fina's data, about a thousand fewer Croatian companies and trades were founded through last year than were founded back in 2018, which is a startling decrease of almost 15 percent.

During 2019, a total of 5914 Croatian companies were established through, according to Fina's data. Just one year earlier, 6822 Croatian companies and other types of businesses were established through the same service, while back in 2017, the number of established Croatian business entities through that service stood at a much higher 7081. A decrease was also present in 2018 compared to 2017, but it accelerated significantly last year.

Crafts (obrti) recorded a particularly large decline: while 245 were established through in 2017 and 128 in 2018, only 48 were established through the service last year.

The number of established simple limited liability companies is also down from 2018. In 2018, 4347 were established through, while 3498 were founded last year, equalling almost a fifth less. On the other hand, in 2019, the number of limited liability companies increased slightly. Back in 2018, 2347 were established through the service, and 2368 were established last year, which is equal to about one percent more.

Last year, economists were pointing their fingers at a poor and discouraging entrepreneurial climate in Croatia, but also to mass emigration and the demographic crisis, which led to the absence of entrepreneurs in some Croatian municipalities. In addition, they warn that Croatia is too large a public sector, which displaces private initiative. In these circumstances, nothing, not even the ability to quickly start a business through, can help that much.

''It's a combination of a number of factors which have been present in Croatia for more than two decades now, which have further enhanced emigration. The Croatian economy is simply not an incentive for startups,'' says Damir Novotny, a well known economic analyst.

Novotny points out that in Croatia there are limited possibilities for financing new entrepreneurial ideas through venture capital funds, which in the west play a large role in the first entrepreneurial steps of people with ideas, but who lack the money to navigate entrepreneurial waters. In addition, Novotny adds, the incentives for self-employment provided by the state to the unemployed are relatively small here. In other words, the development of entrepreneurship in Croatia is a major obstacle to an underdeveloped infrastructure, with a particular focus on finance, although some progress has recently been made in this area.

However, Novotny sees perhaps a greater obstacle to a stronger development of entrepreneurship in Croatia in the staggering amount of bureaucracy. Administrative barriers in Croatia remain large and cumbersome, he warns, and regulations are complicated and often changing.

''The entrepreneurial climate in our country is still bad. When abroad, when it comes to administration, you've got the "see you once a year" rule, in our country, it's common for inspections to come knocking on the doors of Croatian companies as soon as they start business, and there are visits that entrepreneurs have to make to various government institutions,'' Novotny notes.

He believes that young people should be directed more towards entrepreneurial waters, so that their goal is not to look for jobs in the public sector after graduation, but to decide to start their own businesses. Although changes have taken place in recent years, they are still, according to economists, insufficient.

Until these changes occur, Croatia will continue to be perceived by the world as a country where it is difficult and expensive for business owners to play, with the state playing a major role in economic life.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Croatian companies, entrepreneurs, products and services.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Croatian Demographic Crisis Forcing Retired Doctors to Care for Patients

The Croatian demographic crisis continues to bite, and it's far from plumbers, electricians, mechanics and drivers that Croatia is rapidly running out of, but nurses, dentists and doctors too.

As Novac writes on the 2nd of January, 2020, for more than forty years, Dr. Željka Perić has been working in the Slavonian village of Zdenci, in the east of Virovitica-Podravina County. She acquired the conditions for early retirement back in 2010, but due to a lack of doctors owing to the Croatian demographic crisis, she has continued to work in the same office.

She is of course sorry to leave her patients without primary medical care in their village because that would mean that they have to travel ten kilometres for their care to Orahovica, and for some of them that simply isn't viable.

''Next year in September, I will turn 65 and be able to retire fully, but I'm afraid that nothing will come from that as there are no young family doctors and the clinic will be closed. If something does get organised, it will be the ''flying'' doctors who are changed every day. That type of thing is done just to put out fires and has nothing to do with medicine because the sense of family doctors is continuity,'' explained Perić, who was named the best doctor in Croatia in 2014 by the Association of Croatian Patients.

She's not the only one feeling the strain of the Croatian demographic crisis and who doesn't want to be left stranded, either. Another dozen doctors in Virovitica-Podravina County are on an ''extension'' as they say in health circles when referring to those who remain in work after 65 years of age. The average age of family doctors in Croatia is 55, and in Virovitica-Podravina County, they are older. According to the records of the Croatian Medical Chamber, the loss of doctors that will occur during this year and next year is just over 25 percent due to the age of retirement in that particular continental Croatian county.

At the moment, eight primary care clinics are stuck without a doctor, two are on specialisation and as many as fifteen of them are retiring. The Virovitica-Podravina County Health Centre has not concluded a specialist training contract with any doctor for many years, proving that the Croatian demographic crisis is not only damaging to the country's overall economy, but to the health of its waining population, too.

"In October, my office had about twenty sixth year students from the Faculty of Medicine in Osijek and none expressed a desire to stay in primary health care. They see their future in hospital specialties, meaning that the whole of Croatia will soon have major problems on the front line when it comes to health,'' Perić pointed out disappointingly.

''We had an example of a shortage of doctors in family medicine recently after the closure of Zdravko Sertić's office in Virovitica. Hundreds of his patients are now trying to enroll in the remaining teams that are already double-packed. None of the newly graduated doctors of medicine at the Health Centre requested work under supervision, which was introduced as a new form of work instead of an internship. More young doctors still working in that institution without specialisation, and even a few with completed specialisations, are preparing documentation for moving to other institutions,'' notes Berislav Bulat, president of the County Commission of the Croatian Chamber of Physicians and President of the Croatian Family Medicine Coordination Branch (KoHOM) for Virovitica-Podravina County.

The Croatian demographic crisis has caused a problem with doctors of other specialisations, too. Currently, a tender for the specialist training of doctors of medicine at Virovitica General Hospital is underway. Such tenders are repeated year after year with a demand of over thirty doctors. The actual expected turnout can be counted using the fingertips of one hand, Deutsche Welle writes.

''Although in recent years we have more and more medical doctors graduating from this area of ​​origin (in 2017 there were five, in 2018 there were eight, in 2019 there were thirteen), only a few want to stay in institutions here. They go off to other hospitals, usually to Bjelovar or to Zagreb. Similar to family medicine, there remain those who should retire because of the needs of the system, and because of poor pensions,'' said Bulat.

Virovitica-Podravina County is not far from an isolated case. The situation is similar in other parts of Croatia, but in that county, when referring to statistics, the situation is the most unfavourable.

For example, in Virovitica-Podravina County there is one doctor per 425 inhabitants, in Požega-Slavonia, one doctor for 318 patients, and in Osijek-Baranja, one doctor for 303 patients. Virovitica-Podravina County has the oldest doctors, 22 percent of them are over 60 years old, while 17 percent of doctors in Požega-Slavonia County are over 60, and in 11 percent of doctors in Osijek-Baranja are over 60.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on the Croatian demographic crisis.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Croatian Demographics: Exodus Expected to Continue Next Year

The German Government has published a map on its official website which highlights the German regions missing the most workers, and what type of workers they are. Despite the overused rhetoric from politicians and indeed the current presidential candidates, Croatian demographics aren't looking very healthy, at all.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 31st of December, 2019, the Immigration for Qualified Workers Act enters into force on March the 1st, 2020. This law also applies to workers from all countries which are outside of the European Union, including workers from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, writes buka.

This new law provides the legal basis for the migration of skilled workers to Germany and has been designed and is intended to make it easier for academic and professional experts from non-EU countries to come to work in Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the new law is "a paradigm shift in the way we want to approach professionals who are from outside the European Union".

The German Federal Government has agreed with the federal states, business associations and trade unions on concrete steps to be taken against the shortage of workers in that country, a country which many Croats have settled and begun working, furthering the weakening of Croatian demographics and its picture.

In a signed letter of intent, the participants agreed, among other things, to expedite the procedures for issuing and recognising visas. In addition, professionals and their relatives coming to Germany should receive greater support from companies when seeking accommodation.

At the same time, while Germany wants to help out foreigners who could be useful to them, they continue to want to make full use of the domestic labour potential.

"We have various measures and laws that give all people in Germany a chance to really work and make money,'' the chancellor announced. The steps that German is taking requires close cooperation between businesses, unions, the federal government and the states.

Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil stressed that it must be ensured that professionals quickly find the companies they need.

''We want to avoid unnecessary red tape, streamline validation procedures, better equip visas and digitise the entire application process,'' he stated.

In Germany, there is a shortage of workers, especially in the craft, nursing and technical fields, and yesterday we wrote an article about how much Croatian ''majstori'' are in demand in Germany, contributing even more to poor Croatian demographics, as many feel they are more respected and of course properly paid for their work abroad than in Croatia.

On the map published by the German Government, the red colour indicates the states where the workers are most needed. The more intense the red, the more workers are missing.

As can be observed, southern Germany is where the workers are most needed. 

2020 is expected to see the continued emigration of Croats, as well as other nationalities from neighbouring, non-EU countries. Germany is more than likely going to be the target country for the vast majority.

For more on Croatian demographic, follow our politics page.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Rovinj to Increase Amount of One-Off Cash Assistance to New Parents

The one-off cash sum for the birth of a second child has been increased in Rovinj, Istria, meaning that in the next year it will amount to 3000 kuna, and for each subsequent child, 4000 kuna will be paid out to parents.

As Glas Istre/Nina Orlovic Radic writes on the 22nd of December, 2019, the last session of the City Council of Rovinj, the decision on social welfare was financially ''fattened up'', meaning that the total amount allocated from the budget to certain categories of citizens rose to 4.7 million kuna in total. The implementation of this decision will commence on the first day of January 2020.

A major breakthrough was made for young parents, or future residents of St. Euphemia's coastal city. Specifically, the cash sums Rovinj will provide to new parents has been increased. When it comes to the 1,500 kuna the city provided parents for their first born children, this one-time financial assistance will be raised by 500 kuna. Furthermore, parents living in Rovinj who have a second child will receive 3,000 kuna, while for the third and each subsequent child after that, parents will receive 4,000 kuna each.

In regard to the new measures for families with children, the City of Rovinj will fully subsidise the cost of kindergarten and elementary school student meals when one parent exercises the right to work part-time in order to provide more enhanced child care or if they need to leave their job because of the need to care for a child with severe developmental disabilities.

Regardless of income, the cost of services for parents who have two or more children in Rovinj kindergartens will be more favourable as the cost of kindergarten will be subsidised at thirty percent for the second child, and for the third and at the next children - it will be subsidised by Rovinj by fifty percent.

The new measure in Rovinj also includes single-parent families and single parents, whose monthly income does not exceed 2,000 per person kuna, for whom the city's monthly subsidy will be fifty percent of the total cost of services. In addition, the amount refunded to parents who drive their children independently to Pula to the rehab centre in Veruda or the school in Pula has been increased from 70 kuna to 80 kuna. The new measure also introduces the right to cover the costs of assessing a child's development at the Rehabilitation Day Care Centre in Pula.

Along with the new (or) "reinforced" subsidies from Rovinj, it's worth recalling the well-known subsidies that continue to be awarded, such as the co-financing of the transportation of high school students, financing the transportation of children with disabilities who are transported in an organised manner to Pula.

''I consider that the adoption of the proposal of the decision on social welfare was extremely important. The proposal seeks to further improve the care for the most vulnerable groups of citizens, beneficiaries of the guaranteed minimum benefit, persons with disabilities, and pensioners with lower pensions. It also seeks to financially facilitate and improve the status of families with more children,'' said Mayor Marko Paliaga, adding that by passing this decision, the City of Rovinj not only showed its social sensitivity and care towards its citizens, but also its leadership position in creating a better, more comfortable and secure future for its residents.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Croatia Improves But Still Isn't in Position to Keep Talent in Country

As Novac/Adriano Milovan writes on the 18th of November, 2019, the Republic of Croatia has managed to climb one place up in this year's World Talent Rankings, and now, according to a new report from the Lausanne Institute for Business Management Development (IMD), it ranks 53rd out of the 63 countries which were surveyed.

The Talent Report assesses a country's ability to build, attract and retain talented individuals so that it can form the much needed basis for increasing competitiveness and economic growth. Ratings are given on the basis of three key factors - investment and development, then, the country's ''attractiveness'' in regard to retaining its own as well as attracting foreign talent, and the country's willingness, ie, its actual ability to meet the labour market demands of talented individuals. These three factors contain a total of 32 indicators.

Although Croatia has improved its position on this list of world rankings, it still remains close to the bottom of the table. This year, Croatia ranked best in terms of investment and development, ranking 36th in the world, while the country was ranked an unimpressive 61st in terms of retaining its own and attracting foreign talent - coming in at the very bottom of the list. Croatia is also poor in assessing its own willingness to meet the labour market's demand for skilled labour, which places it at an equally rather depressing 60th in the world.

''This year's IMD report shows that we have moved towards the top by one place, but it has also shown that we cannot be satisfied with 53rd place,'' said Ivica Mudrinić, President of the National Competitiveness Council (NVK), an IMD partner institution. He added that Croatia should be deeply concerned about its clear inability to retain its own talent or attract foreign talent.

Rather unsurprisingly, Switzerland is still the best positioned country on the world talent list. Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg follow. Among the 10 countries that are seen as hotbeds for talent, only one country - Singapore, is non-European. Germany ranks 11th, USA 12th, and Canada 13th. On the other hand, Mongolia is at the top of the chart, while Venezuela and Brazil are slightly better placed, the report shows.

For Croatia, it is a particular problem that almost all new EU members are ranked better than Croatia on the world talent list. Estonia is 27th, Lithuania 28th, Slovenia 31st, Latvia 34th, Poland 37th, Czech Republic 39th, Hungary 45th, and Bulgaria 53rd. behind Croatia is Romania, which came in 55th, and Slovakia, which is 57th.

According to this particular report for 2019, Ukraine and even Indonesia, the Philippines and Jordan were better placed than Croatia, meaning an enormous amount of work needs to be done.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Irish Dream or Illusion? Osijek Doctor Returns to Croatia From Ireland

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of November, 2019, following the surge in Croatian nationals heading abroad, which has been and continues to be extensively monitored by the media, there is a growing trend of returning people who have experienced life and work for several years in Western Europe, yet decide to return home to Croatia and try their luck again here at home.

The fact that this trend of return doesn't solely regard people who have gone to Ireland to work in positions that don't require higher education is evidenced by the case of Dr. Delalle, a psychiatrist from Osijek who after three years in Ireland, decided to return home to a Croatian institution, more specifically to KBC Osijek.

According to Glas Slavonije, this doctor, who worked at the aforementioned Osijek hospital since 1986, and was head of child psychiatry at KBC Osijek from 2003 to 2015, says openly that the reason for her departure has never been dissatisfaction with the institution or system, but was solely because of family and financial reasons, and of course, the idea also came from a dose of professional curiosity.

''Within a month, I got a job at an Irish Government hospital, but it was a 45-minute bus and train ride and then another four miles on foot. All this is quite exhausting at my age, especially when you come from Osijek, where everything is at your fingertips,'' recalls Dr. Delalle when recalling some of the problems there.

This psychiatrist also worked for a while in the department for child and adolescent psychiatry in a public government hospital, and although she was initially very enthusiastic, disappointment with the system quickly followed.

In the end, she resigned from this institution, worked for a while in various other institutions, but nostalgia to return home to Croatia still prevailed.

''Financially, there were high incomes and as a psychiatrist you could earn about 5,000 euros a month there, but housing is very expensive and when you pay all the expenses, you're left with an only slightly higher income than you get in Croatia. For a doctor with scientific titles, length of service and on-call duty can also bring you a very nice income here.

It was interesting to go there, see it, experience it all, but I became nostalgic. I wanted to be close to my family and friends again, be where my home was. Thanks to the understanding of the director of KBC Osijek, I was given the opportunity to work at the Clinic for Psychiatry at KBC Osijek again.

''This is an experience that can enrich everyone, but in the end you see that despite all of Croatia's flaws, our system is still much more accessible, more professional, and significantly more empathetic to the needs of the patient,'' Dr. Delalle concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Croatian "Card for Kids" For Families With Children to Provide Benefits

This praiseworthy project was initiated by the Croatian Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, with registration set for spring 2020.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 30th of October, 2019, depopulation and migration are a global demographic challenge to which an effective long-term incentive solution needs to be found that will make young people want to stay up, and at the same time improve family standards and raise the overall quality of life.

The Croatian Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy is actively working on the issue of demography, and their latest virtual Kid's Cards project will provide families and children with benefits and discounts on various types of goods and services.

This is the first such pro-natal measure on the national level in the European Union, which, which, regardless of the number of children and without any emphasis placed on income or membership fees, provides financial savings for families. Most EU member states offer some sort of family card to parents with three or more children, more specifically the Family 3+ Cards, which are also available here in Croatia with the payment of a pre-determined membership fee.

It's worth recalling that according to the latest census in Croatia, 112,830 families have three or more children in them, 319,658 families have two children, while 435,192 families have only one child, and discounts with the Kid's Card would be valid for everyone, and their benefits would hopefully increase with the number of children.

Since this is not a classic card, and the aforementioned ministry wants to contribute to the slow but steady digitalisation of Croatian society and provide additional online services to residents through this project, the virtual card will be available through an application (app), which will be registered with the registry of e-services on May the 1st, 2020.

APIS IT is responsible for the development and establishment of the Infrastructure for the Kid's Card information system, and Croatia's e-citizens infrastructure will be upgraded based on the contract. A request will be received using a Level 3 National Identification and Authentication System, and access to that means that only a token is required.

The ministry will complete the visual identity of the Kid's Cards by the end of the year, but full and high-quality implementation of the project requires the involvement of public and private sector partners, which includes national parks, sports clubs, cultural institutions, retail chains and other economic operators of various activities.

The ministry's main aim is to promote socially responsible business with the Kid's Card as a symbol of the social consensus of public and private partners in order to create a favourable and stimulating environment for families and young people within Croatia.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Number of Social Assistance Users in Croatia Drops Because of Emigration

As Novac/Marina Klepo writes on the 26th of October, 2019, in Croatia last year, the guaranteed minimum benefit (which is just a less understood name for social assistance) was received by 1.7 percent of the total population, the lowest share in the last 20 years and probably the lowest share of the population covered by this benefit in the EU.

The reason for the fall in the number and share of social assistance recipients is undoubtedly the large amount of emigration and indeed a certain degree of economic recovery in recent years. However, the figures on the share of recipients by city are perhaps the most forthcoming in showcasing the consequences of many years of unequal development of the state.

Croatia is spatially among the smaller European countries, but the differences between the regions - and often within the regions themselves - are quite incredible: in Knin, for example, 10 times more of the population receives social help than in Šibenik, a mere 50 kilometers away from the county seat, and it's almost 60 times higher than in Pag, Buzet or Korčula. On the island of Pag, 12 out of 5,396 residents receive social assistance, or 0.2 percent of the population. In Obrovac, however, with a population similar to Pag, 242, or 4.2 percent, are on social care, which equals to about 20 times more than in Pag.

Both cities fall under the same Social Welfare Centre in Zadar, a city where the recipient's share is equivalent to 0.6 percent of the population.

The analysis of the share of social assistance recipients clearly spatially divides the state: on the one hand there's the the coast and north of the country, on the other, the east and inland.

In the northern counties - Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb, and Varaždin - the proportion of recipients in any covered area rarely, if at all, exceeds 1 percent of the population. It is important to note that the proportion of recipients does not refer solely to the territory of the aforementioned cities, but to the territory covered by the social welfare centre in that city, which usually involves a much wider area. This is also explained by the high share of recipients in Čakovec - more than 4 percent - because it also includes poorer Roma settlements.

The city of Knin still has the largest share of recipients, with every 9th inhabitant, or 11.7 percent of them, living on social welfare. Neither city is close to Knin as recipient: Topusko is second with 6.7 percent of recipients receiving this benefit.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Croatian Couple Return from Ireland, Pay Off Debts and Buy Car

Going to work abroad seemed to be the only option, and one Croatian couple spent a year in Ireland but returned to their homeland, just like other people do, as they say.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 24th of October, 2019, after 20 years in journalism, frustrated by a stressful job, low pay and an exhausting work pace, he decided to start a "new life" along with his wife.

But after just one year, they returned to Croatia. They only went to Ireland to make money to pay off their debts, Deutsche Welle writes.

"It was a very, very good experience. With the fact that I earned something, I gained something that is much more valuable - I lost the fear of existential problems. Because now I know I can go anywhere and live and work there. Nobody here can ever say to me, 'If you don't do it, there's someone who will work for the minimum wage'' again, I've learned to appreciate my time and my work.

I no longer care what I'll do if I lose my job, fail at a company or quit. It's an enormous burden taken from my shoulders. It is a release from the existential fear that most Croatian citizens live in. so I'd recommend everyone to go and try out their skills. If we all had that experience, then it would be a lot different here too,'' Soudil says as he begins the story.

"What was very important in making that decision was the fact that my then girlfriend and now wife was still out of work, so one day we sat down and talked. Many of our friends were already in Ireland. We got in touch with them and got information that we could make three to four times more over there than here. It was a big step, a big decision. You leave your parents, friends, your lifestyle and you're aware that you're going into the unknown and that your life will change completely. Honestly, that decision was not at all easy'' says Soudil.

"We were fortunate not to go to Dublin, we went to Letterkenny which is all the way north and is a small town. The size of the Đakovo, but much more urban and I won't say nicer, because there is nothing nicer to me than this here. I progressed in my work in just a few days. I worked for an agency that rents apartments and homes out and I can only say that I was valid and respected there, and paid properly for the work I did,'' Soudil says.

Immediately upon his arrival, he was offered to work four hours a day, but he refused because work and a better salary were the reasons why he left Croatia. As he says, his job was not demanding, and no one complained about his work ethic or the quality of his work.

"For the last four or five months, I've been doing another job because I realised that I could still make around 40 euros a day, and the money is welcome. It's easy when there are jobs and they treat you properly."

According to Soudil, having Croatian passport is a kind of job ''recommendation'' because the Croats are well known for being hardworking and responsible employees.

He says they repaid all of the debts they had Croatia off in just three months and even managed to buy a car on top of that.

"When we left, we didn't say: We're never returning to Croatia again. We went to see what it was like to make some money too, to cover the foreclosures and debts we had here. We had unpaid bills, foreclosures for parking, electricity... We paid back all the debts that we'd inevitably accumulated in Croatia in three months and we even bought a car,'' says Soudil.

He describes life in Ireland as extremely enjoyable and nice. He says it never happened that he was "missing one more paper" during administrative tasks, an all too common situation when dealing with Croatian state bodies. A person who has lived in Croatia and dealt with any sort of Croatian administration feels a sort of cultural shock when they're greeted kindly at the bank as if by their best friend, even though you're complete stranger, just getting off the plane, Soudil notes.

"At the age of nineteen, I started working in journalism, I was aware that I couldn't do that business there [in Ireland], but I lived in the belief that I didn't really know how to do anything else. My hobby when I was a journalist was a kind of woodworking, processing metal, electrical work... I learned this from the urgent need not to have to pay professionals to do those things and that it was enough for me to just be able to manage. I'm far from being a professional, but I realised that I could do a lot of other things,'' he explains.

He also says that nobody in Ireland ever asked him what school he graduated from and what kind of "papers" he has. Another shock for anyone who has done anything the dreaded Croatian way.

"It's important here if you have a certificate, there, what's important is whether or not you want to work. The employer is ready to invest in you to educate you at their own expense and give you the opportunity according to your abilities. In one whole year, nobody asked me for a diploma, a birth certificate or a certificate of impunity,'' Soudil tells Deutsche Welle.

Upon his return to Croatia he did well. He is now in a better-paying job that he is comfortable with, and as he says, if he ever begins to get sick of it again, he has a job waiting for him in Ireland.

"Ireland is great, but it has one drawback - it's far away. Anyone who works in Munich can spend almost every weekend in Osijek, which is a big deal when nostalgia grabs you,'' he says.

His wife Lea has a slightly different life story - she was born in Germany, lived in London and working in a foreign country is nothing strange to her.

"I found a job right away. I first worked as a maid, and as they saw I knew several foreign languages, they transferred me to the front desk," Lea says.

Despite the nostalgia, she does not regret engaging in the Irish experience. Because, she says, she tried a hundred things she had never had the opportunity to try, see, eat, do...

"With just three weeks of wages we bought a Mini Cooper, second-hand, but you couldn't even do that in your wildest dreams in Croatia. There are big differences in life here and there, but when everything is put on paper, it's still the best at home," concludes Lea.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Demographic Crisis: Croatian Emigration Topped Only by Malta

As Novac/Marina Klepo writes on the 16th of October, 2019, after Malta, Croatia has the highest rate of emigration in the whole of the European Union. 21.9 percent of the population to be more specific, which means that more than a fifth of the population born on Croatian territory live abroad.

This is followed by Portugal and Lithuania, countries in which 20 percent of the population born there have left. The latest World Bank report on "Migration and the brain drain in Europe and Central Asia" showcases this worrying data as it analyses the latest migration trends and offers countries recommendations on how to deal with them.

When asked what is the definition of an emigrant, and whether they include Croatian emigrants and Croatian citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the World Bank explains that the figures are based on UN data collected from the statistical offices of destination countries.

''They will depend, for example, on how Germany collects data on immigrants,'' says Asli Demirguc-Kunt, World Bank chief economist for Europe and Central Asia. He added that most of the migrants' countries of choice, such as the United States outside of Europe and the United Kingdom inside it, have administrations which want to know the country of origin of these migrants, and therefore they state the country of their birth.

This probably means that the data for Croatia also covers expelled Serbs since the early 1990s. Neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, has seen as much as half of its population leave. Obviously, some of them immigrated to Croatia, which also has a high rate of immigrants relative to the total population, at 12.9 percent. In addition to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania (30 percent) recorded large emigration, more than a fifth of Macedonians and Montenegrins live abroad, while for Serbia, it is estimated that there are 14 percent of them living abroad.

Today, Europe the destination of every third immigrant in the world. Economic migration, the report says, has helped immigrant countries address the problem of labour shortages and also improve the living standards of migrants. However, at the same time, it also poses a major problem to the countries from which people leave, especially when it comes to brain drain. Data shows that highly educated persons make up as much as 55 percent of the total number of expatriates from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and around 40 percent of those from Latvia, and about 40 percent from Albania, Macedonia, and Romania.

Although the Croatian brain drain from is slightly less, standing at about 27 percent, it's also worrying, especially when compared to other countries. In Hungary and the Czech Republic, the very highly educated make up less than 20 percent of the immigrant population.

One particularly significant impetus for population displacement is the lack of healthcare staff in many European countries. By 2030, according to the survey, Germany alone will need an additional 500,000 nurses, while demand for them in the United Kingdom will grow twice as fast as the population. As a reason, the World Bank recognises a lack of health education and demographic change combined. Specifically, the longer people live, the more common diseases such as cancer are, as are strokes and heart attacks, which of course usually require longer-term and more labour-intensive types of care. In addition to Bulgaria and Romania, Croatia is one of the three EU countries from which the most healthcare workers emigrate.

So far, no country has found a good political solution to this problem. The Croatiian Government is highly unlikely to be the first to do so.

In many countries, higher education is funded by public money. Therefore, the departure of the highly educated population represents a significant fiscal burden. To solve this problem, the political option that governments are forced to seek is asking for that money back from the migrants. The argument is that such a policy would increase the equality of those who leave and those who remain.

However, the World Bank states that such coercion is difficult to enforce, especially after expatriates leave the territory of a country. Moreover, if strong coercion and legal measures are imposed, it can lead to the termination of the expatriate's relationship with the country entirely and jeopardise the benefits of all of them and for everyone involved.

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