Sunday, 8 May 2022

Microsoft: Croatia's Digitisation Level Below Central and Eastern Europe Average

ZAGREB, 8 May 2022 - Croatia is nine percentage points below the average for Central and Eastern Europe on the Microsoft Digital Futures Index, which measured the level of digitisation in 16 European countries, Microsoft Croatia said earlier this week.

The Microsoft digital index, also known as the digital pulse of a country, provides data on the level of digitisation and detects the most successful areas and areas where more work should be done to speed up the digital transformation process.

The digital index measures fives categories of digital development - digital business, digital government and public sector, digital infrastructure, digital sector, and human capital.

Croatia’s total digital development level is 91 out of 100 points, which is the number of points defined as the average for Central and Eastern Europe.

Croatia ranked above the average on talent and the digital skills of young people aged between 16 and 29, as 48 per cent of the people in this age group have digital skills that are above the average of other countries. The digital skills level of the general population is also high.

The best results were scored in the Human Capital category, which is related to greater innovation, productivity, and salaries, while the results in all the other categories were close to the average for the Eastern and Central European countries.

“Our research has shown that digitally advanced countries are greener, wealthier, more innovative, and more competitive, and we believe that Croatia has strong potential and all prerequisites for becoming the digital hub of this part of Europe, which will base its economic development on innovation and modern technologies, such as artificial intelligence,” said Tatjana Skoko, the director of Microsoft Croatia.

Croatia scored 84 points In the Digital Business category, 90 points in the Digital Government and Public Sector category, 93 points in the Digital Infrastructure category and 87 points in the Digital Sector category.

In order to become a fully digital society, Croatia should focus on advancing the digital skills of people in all age groups, encouraging the digital transformation of small and medium-sized businesses, and promoting the digitisation of public services.

In addition to Croatia, the Digital Futures Index measured the level of digitisation for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia. The index also included countries considered leaders in digitisation - Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal.

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

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Parliament: Digitisation of Notarial Services Good, but Fees are High

ZAGREB, 4 May 2022 - Both opposition and ruling parties in the Croatian parliament on Wednesday welcomed the government proposal that the services of notaries-public should be digitised and accessible to the public, but opposition lawmakers warned that notarial fees were high and that they would be regulated by rules and not by law.

Presenting the proposal to amend the Notary Public Act, Josip Salapić, state secretary at the Ministry of Justice, said that the proposed amendments allow parties to participate in legal procedures online and that they provide for new rules in the appointment of notaries.

"Until now, the minister signed a decision on the appointment of a notary-public without seeing who this person was. We had certain problems about it and now we want everything to be transparent," Salapić said.

The proposal provides for the selection process to be conducted by an independent commission and for short-listed candidates to be interviewed by the minister.

MP Miro Bulj (Bridge) objected to this, asking whether candidates would need "a party membership card" for the interview. He also expressed his dissatisfaction at the fact that notarial fees would be regulated by rules and not by law, over which parliament would have no influence.

Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front also complained about high notarial fees, to which Salapić said that notarial expenses had been reduced to a minimum through amendments to the Enforcement Act.

Lawmakers agreed that the Signature, Manuscript and Transcript Authentication Act, adopted 50 years ago, should be repealed.

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

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

506 Million Euros for Green Transition for Three Croatian Regions

May the 3rd, 2022 - Three Croatian regions in different parts of the country are set to get their hands on as much as 506 million kuna in the name of pushing the green and digital transition forward.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the three Croatian regions of Pannonian Croatia, Northern and Adriatic Croatia will receive a separate allocation of 506 million euros for further investments in green and digital transition of their local economies, as was announced on Friday the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds, Natasa Tramisak, at the opening the Conference on Industrial Transition of Croatian Regions held at the Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences in Osijek.

Back in December 2020, the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union (EU) Funds began the process of industrial transition of NUTS 2 Croatian regions, which includes Adriatic, Northern and Pannonian Croatia. Namely, these regions are significantly below the EU development average and have the potential to strengthen their respective competitiveness by using the opportunities offered by global trends to revive economic growth and increase overall productivity.

The transition will be implemented with the help of European Union funds under the new Integrated Territorial Programme, which provides for the allocation of 506 million euros, which will be available only to enterprises owners and businessmen from the aforementioned three Croatian regions.

"We're completing the process of approving operational programmes, of which the plans for the industrial transition of Croatian regions for the period 2021-2027 are an integral part," added Tramisak.

Croatia's more obvious shift at least towards the digital transition occurred primarily as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic which saw very many ''in person'' errands quickly made available online, and more and more can be done administratively from the comfort of the home thanks to the popular e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) portal. That said, Croatia is still very much behind the times in many of these aspects, hence the cash injections aimed at improving this quickly as part of the EU's wider goals as a bloc.

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

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Digital Croatia Project Aims To Increase Card Payments

ZAGREB, 28 April 2022 - Visa on Thursday presented Digital Croatia, a project supporting SMEs and trade businesses with the aim of increasing card payments between them.

Visa's Croatian director Renata Vujasinović said the wish was to help small Croatian businesses in the recovery process. Digital Croatia, she added, is part of Visa's efforts at European level for more than eight million SMEs.

In Croatia, Visa's goal is to increase card payments by 25%, she said.

The main goal of Digital Croatia is to step up the development of a digital payment network, so for six months Visa will offer free POS terminals to Croatian SMEs and trade businesses which did not accept card payments until now, she added.

The project will be carried out over the next three years.

Robert Blažinović of the Economy Ministry said that during the COVID crisis Croatian businesses adopted new digital technologies and business models en masse, adding that Digital Croatia would help them switch to a more modern way of doing business.

He said the ministry would advertise a call at the end of June for HRK 206 million in grants for the digitalisation of Croatian businesses.

Monday, 11 April 2022

So Long, Paperwork! Digital Croatian Building Permits on Horizon!

April the 11th, 2022 - Digital Croatian building permits are on the horizon as the country finally turns to a more digital approach when it comes to its complicated and inefficient administration processes.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, digital Croatian building permits once seemed like a dream, but all such permits will soon all be issued and stored in a digital form, thanks to a project by the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property (MPUGDI), their close cooperation with numerous public authorities and of course - some European Uniion money.

The eArchive project “Digitisation of existing construction acts throughout Croatia” in the amount of more than 23.8 million kuna is being financed from the European Regional Development Fund and implemented through the “Spatial Planning Information System (ISPU) and its modules” project, which has a total value of 131 million kuna, of which 85 percent is being insured from the EU. As such, the period of issuing paper building permits is now being sent where it belongs - into the history books.

Millions of documents

Currently, these permits are stored in various archives, and in many cases the process of finding them, whether for regular people or investors, isn't easy, but the complete digital transformation of building permits is a turning point. Danijel Mestric, the Director of the Directorate for Supervision, Complaints, Information System Development and Digitisation at MPUGDA, noted that all location, construction and use permits issued since the establishment of the ePermit module back in 2015 have been stored in digital form. These number more than 3.2 million eDocuments dating from 1968 all the way up to 2015.

The move to create digital Croatian building permits means that the availability of this data to all people will be provided on the GEO portal of ISPU, where the data will be visible at the exact location of the building for which a permit was issued. Digitisation will also simplify the procedures for the reconstruction of buildings, as designers and clerks will be able to quickly access all of the necessary information and permits through the e-Permit system and other ISPU modules. Those who will readily benefit from the eArchive module are practically everyone in the country - the professional and scientific community, which means designers and speakers in municipalities and cities, as well as all investors and residents.

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

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Project Free Electronic Books Logs Over 4 million Users

ZAGREB, 6 Feb 2022 - 20 years since its introduction, project Free Electronic Books had more than 4 million users at the end of 2021 and nearly 300 titles, of which more than 250 are written by contemporary Croatian authors.

In 2021, a record 31 titles were published as part of the project. Of the 298 titles published to date, 264 are currently available on the project website.

Last year's titles were published with the financial support of the City of Zagreb, the City of Rijeka and the Ministry of Culture and Media.

According to data provided by the Google Analytics service, in 2021 the project website registered 243,250 users, who read 1,208,869 e-books online and downloaded another 68,629 e-books. This means that users read and/or downloaded a total of 197,498 e-books in 2021.

The most read fiction book in 2021 was the novel "Sloboština Barbie" by Maša Kolanović (4,599 readers), followed by Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (3,788) and the novel "Tuđi život" (Someone Else's Life) by Marina Vujčić (3,014).

The most read poetry book was "Tri jeseni" (Three Autumns) by Anna Akhmatova (2,357).

As many as 48 titles had more than a thousand readers last year, said the Society for Promoting New Media Literature.

At the end of 2021, the project surpassed 4 million users, which is nearly 200,000 per year, and books were read and/or downloaded 2,336,009 times, which means that each title had over 7,800 users on average.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Croatian Public Notaries Look to German Example and Go Digital

February the 4th, 2022 - Croatian public notaries are looking to Germany and adopting a much more digital approach. To those of us who have utilised public notaries (and their infamous stamps) in this country, this will come as very welcome news.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the mandate of the new leadership of the Croatian Chamber of Notaries (UHJK) is looking promising and much more digital indeed. Through the continuation of digitalisation of notary services, we can expect even more services to be made available on screen, including a high degree of legal certainty and dispute prevention, and services involving legal affairs which are related to property rights.

Bodies for a new three-year term were elected at the election assembly, and the president is Zvijezdana Raus-Klier. According to the current news, the plan of the Chamber is to further improve business that will facilitate access to citizens and increase legal security when using the services of Croatian public notaries, especially when it comes to public registers such as land registers and court registers.

"Our purpose and task is to be at the service of all citizens, to prevent disputes, provide security for land registry and court register data and in this context we're going to continue to improve the processes and level of service of the notary profession," said Rausch-Klier.

UHJK plans to finalise many new projects which involve the digitalisation of Croatian public notaries, so from the summer onwards, with the help of a new application related to eNotar, it will be possible to establish a company remotely or make changes to an existing one.

Croatian public notaries should also ''be relieved'' of dealing too much with land registers this year, as proposals for land registry entries and the issuance of excerpts will be able to be resolved electronically. In addition to that, a brand new IT system of registers is being developed maintained by the Chamber (wills, anticipated orders and debentures), with the possibility of introducing new digital registers (such as for powers of attorney and notarial deeds).

The entire digitalisation process for Croatian public notaries is in fact the digitalisation of preventive justice, and this in particular is realised within a separate IT system with the highest levels of digital and legal security, under the supervision of HJK, and not through commercial platforms.

With the support of the Ministry of Justice and Administration, Croatian public notaries up and down the country will soon implement the so-called German model for public notaries ''at a distance'', which will certainly be a relief to not only those carrying out these services but those seeking them.

All this will be done through a combination of videoconferencing and electronic identification and insight into a photo of the party in question from their identification document, and then the parties will be in a ''secure virtual room'' together without the need for physical presence in an office.

It is an application that, as was explained, will be easy to use for all involved parties, but at the same time be maximally secure in terms of cyber security, the protection of personal data, cthe onfidentiality of secrets and compliance with regulations on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Travel costs will be lower, time (and nerves) will be saved, and people will be able to use their time more economically, while documents generated by e-mail will be "available and stored in a suitable e-form and immediately enforceable in e-registers and e-databases such as the land registry, the court register, tax databases, pension and health insurance databases, and the like.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Electronic Form of Construction Site Diary Offered by Ministry as New E-service

ZAGREB, 2 Feb 2022 - Croatia's construction and zoning ministry has developed a new e-service, a construction site diary application within its zoning information system, the ministry stated on Wednesday.

The development of the whole module was financed by the European structural and investment funds. The total project cost amounted to HRK 4.85 million (647,000 euros), with 85% of these costs having been covered by the European Regional Development D+Fund.

The application enables authorized persons such as those in charge of construction sites as well as investors, to gain insight on all construction projects and worksite processes, including all events and activities that may impact progress.

The ministry says the new e-service will facilitate the implementation of investment projects.

For more, check out our business section.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

All EU Countries Make Progress in Digitalisation, Croatia Ranks 19th

ZAGREB, 13 Nov, 2021 - Croatia has made slight progress in the digitalisation of its economy and society, moving up by one spot to 19th place in the European Commission's 2021 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

"All EU Member States have made progress in the area of digitalisation, but the overall picture across Member States is mixed, and despite some convergence, the gap between the EU's frontrunners and those with the lowest DESI scores remains large. Despite these improvements, all Member States will need to make concerted efforts to meet the 2030 targets as set out in Europe's Digital Decade," the Commission said in a press release.

The DESI tracks member states' progress in digital competitiveness, human capital, broadband connectivity, integration of digital technology, and digital public services.

The best performers are Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Croatia lags behind Slovenia, but is ahead of Italy, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria.

Although Croatia moved up to 20th place on connectivity, it still lags behind the EU average, with a score of 45.4 against 50.2. It scored best on integration of digital technology, ranking 13th with a score of 40 against the EU average of 37.6.

Croatia placed 16th on human capital, with a score of 46.7 against the EU average of 47.1. It performed worst on digital public services, ranking 24th with a score of 52 against the EU average of 68.1.

"While Croatia has good fast broadband coverage (86% national and 39% rural), its overall fixed broadband take-up is slightly below the EU average. One of the positive developments in connectivity is the assignment of harmonised spectrum for 5G in August 2021. This is a stepping stone for further acceleration of the digital transformation and is bringing benefits to both businesses and individuals," the report said.

"The level of at least basic digital skills remains slightly low compared with the EU average. In contrast, for above basic digital skills, Croatia comes in above the EU average. Croatia is progressing its successful implementation of the e-Schools programme, with all Croatian schools (1,320) included in the second phase of the programme," it added.

Croatian enterprises continued to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technologies, and there has been a sharp rise in popularity of e-invoices, with enterprises’ usage up from 12% in 2018 to 43% in 2020, following the amendment of the Public Procurement Act which made e-invoices mandatory for enterprises.

The report notes that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development expects to finalise the 2021-2027 National Plan for the Digital Transformation of the Economy mid-2022. The 2021-2029 Smart Specialisation Strategy and the National Plan for the Development of Artificial Intelligence are also under development.

The Commission says that Croatia has taken several steps to provide more digital access to the public administration, for example through the eID notification platform for electronic payment of fees, and that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan lays out an ambitious roadmap, with reforms and investments touching on all dimensions of the Digital Economy and Society Index.

"While Croatia is making modest progress to reach the Gigabit Society objectives, significant improvements are still needed. High right-of way fees are an impediment to VHCN (very high capacity network) deployment. Efficient VHCN deployment could be further facilitated by absorption of EU funds, implementation of the connectivity toolbox and addressing the lack of coordination in permit granting between central and local government, in particular on permit granting and fees. The recent assignment of harmonised spectrum suitable for 5G usage is an important step towards digital transformation, enabling Croatia to take full advantage of a digitalised economy and society, both for households and businesses," the report concluded.

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Croatian Recovery Plan Foresees 9.5 Billion Kuna for Digital Transformation

October the 7th, 2021 - The Croatian Recovery Plan, more precisely the Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO) has been talked about at length recently. In the challenging post-coronavirus age, at a time when global economies are still reeling from the unprecedented and utterly devastating impact of the global pandemic, few things are more important to Croatia than this massive EU payout.

The Croatian Recovery Plan envisages as much as 9.5 billion kuna going directly to the country's much needed digital transformation, which should force Croatia well and truly into modern times and away from excessive paperwork, standing in lines and wasting time.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, in this day and age, smart industries represent the wheel of development of the Croatian economy and society, and the precondition for this doesn't lie solely in digital transformation, but also in the cooperation of the Croatian Government, the domestic economy and the academic community.

Recognising the importance of education about the Smart Industry model in Croatia, Poslovni dnevnik organised a conference entitled Smart Industry 2021, during which, State Secretary of the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society, Bernard Grsic, spoke about smart industries in the focus of national plans, more precisely the Croatian Recovery Plan.

''Digital transformation is a change from one thing to another, and first we need the awareness that we can and do actually want to do it. Man is at the centre of these events and we mustn't simply allow technology to do everything itself. Priorities for implementing this policy in the field of the digital transition of the economy relate to encouraging digital transformation and the application of advanced technologies in the economy and in society, strengthening strategic digital capacities and increasing the level of digital maturity of enterprises, establishing standardised platforms for connection and business, and the proper development of state information infrastructure.

The Smart Industry seeks to strengthen the competitiveness of a particular industry, which means not only an industrial transition but also social transformation, openness and cooperation from the government, as well as from the economy and from universities. In the Croatian Recovery Plan, the contribution to digital transformation stands at 20.4 percent, this is equal to more than 9.5 billion kuna, which is to be distributed across all segments of society.

The goal is to seize this opportunity and accelerate the digital transformation in the Republic of Croatia, create high-paying jobs in the domestic economy for the implementation of the Croatian Recovery Plan and ensure fast and efficient public administration, as well as position Croatia above the EU average on the DESI index,'' concluded Grsic.

For more on the Croatian Recovery Plan (NPOO), make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

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