Friday, 12 November 2021

Croatia Receives Two Letters of Formal Notice for Breaking EU Law

ZAGREB, 12 Nov 2021- Croatia on Friday received two letters of formal notice from the European Commission as part of its regular package of infringement decisions, and one concerns waste disposal  while the other relates to the transposition of new EU-wide rules for VAT on e-commerce.

Landfilling

The Commission called on Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Slovakia to correctly apply the Landfill Directive and the Waste Framework Directive.

The Landfill Directive sets standards for landfills to prevent adverse effects on human health, water, soil and air. Under this Directive, Member States must take measures to ensure that only waste that has been subject to treatment is landfilled.

The European Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan set a zero pollution ambition for the EU, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality.

In its judgment of 15 October 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that, before landfilling, waste must be treated in the most appropriate way to reduce negative impacts on the environment and human health as far as possible. Following this ruling, in 2015, the Commission launched a study to investigate the landfilling of untreated non-hazardous municipal solid waste in Member States.

In Croatia, the study analysed five landfills of non-hazardous waste in five different counties. The study revealed shortcomings in all visited sites and that municipal waste is being landfilled without any treatment. The landfills subject to investigation are lacking infrastructure capacities and so are the counties where these landfills are located.

Taxation

Croatia, Denmark and Lithuania were called upon to explain how they transposed the VAT e-commerce package into national law.

The Commission has decided to open infringement proceedings against Denmark, Croatia and Lithuania for non-communication of the explanatory documents in relation to the transposition of new EU-wide rules for VAT on e-commerce.

The new rules are intended to simplify VAT for companies and consumers involved in cross-border online sales within the EU and to create a fairer environment for EU sellers by removing the VAT exemption for low-value imports from outside the European Union.

In line with Court of Justice case law, Member States must indicate in a sufficiently clear and precise manner the national measures by which they transposed obligations imposed by an EU Directive. Since Denmark, Croatia and Lithuania have failed to provide clear explanations on the way they have transposed these directives, the Commission cannot check that these Member States have completely and correctly transposed the relevant provisions into national law. Denmark, Croatia and Lithuania now have two months to act. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions.

A letter of formal notice is the first step in the infringement procedure, launched by the Commission against Member States deemed to be in contravention of EU law. If the matter is not resolved, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion, and if that also fails, it refers the matter to the Court of Justice. 

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Croatians in Switzerland Granted Equal EU Working Rights from January 1, 2022

October 22, 2021 - Croatians in Switzerland will be granted the same working rights as the rest of the EU/EFTA nationals from January 1, 2022. 

Switzerland will open its labor market for workers from Croatia at the beginning of 2022, and they will be equal to other citizens of EU member states, the official website of the Swiss presidency announced on Friday. 

24 Sata reported that Switzerland informed the European Union at the 24th meeting of the Switzerland-European Union Joint Committee on the Agreement on Free Movement of People, which was held on Friday by video conference due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Switzerland has so far applied labor market protection measures for citizens of the Republic of Croatia under this Agreement (Protocol III AELE).

"At its session on October 1, the Swiss Federal Council decided to grant the status of free movement of people to the citizens of the Republic of Croatia starting from January 1, 2022," the website reads.

Should Croatian immigrant workers cross a certain threshold, Switzerland could reach for a safeguard provision and re-limit permits for workers to come from Croatia from 1 January 2023 or at the end of 2026 at the latest, the statement said.

As of December 31, 2020, 28,324 Croatian workers were staying in Switzerland, which is 6 more than in the previous year. That number is 1.9 percent of European Union or AELE citizens living in Switzerland.

Schengen Visa Info reports that Croatians were previously permitted to work in Switzerland under specific quotas for Croats wishing to live and work in Switzerland.

"Swiss-based companies interested in hiring a Croat also had to apply for a work permit and show that prior search efforts in Switzerland to fill the post have been unsuccessful. Such rules had been in place since the beginning of January 2017.

When Croatia became an EU member in 2013, the accession agreement gave the Member States the possibility of putting into use a transitional period of seven years before permitting workers from Croatia to work in their territory under the same rights as the rest of the EU countries. A similar transitional period had been applied to Romania and Bulgaria when they joined the EU.

At first, 13 countries had imposed the transitional period restrictions on Croatians, which are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom," Schengen Visa Info added. 

The majority of these countries no longer have restrictions on Croatian workers. 

For more news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 8 October 2021

Johansson Satisfied with Croatia's Reaction to Reports of Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, 8 Oct 2021 - European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on Friday expressed satisfaction with her talks with Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović and his announcement of an investigation into reports of illegal expulsion of migrants as well as her dissatisfaction with Greece's reaction.

The Croatian government has taken the reports very seriously and an investigation will be launched promptly, Johansson said, noting that Božinović was shocked and that she believed Croatia was acting as it should, with the clear position that border protection should always be in line with the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The European commissioner held meetings on Thursday evening with Božinović and Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi.

A number of European media outlets on Wednesday evening broadcast disturbing videos of forcible expulsion of migrants in Croatia's territory and Greece. The videos, made with the help of drones, show men wearing balaclavas and uniforms resembling those worn by Croatian police as they drive migrants out towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Johansson said that Croatia would carry out an investigation, using the independent mechanism of supervision established together with the European Commission.

That is the right response, she noted.

On the other hand, she expressed dissatisfaction with the Greek minister's reaction to the media reports, noting that the EC would not tolerate the Greek government's failure to investigate the allegations.

Johansson said that the EU's external borders had to be protected but that the rule of law and fundamental rights had to be preserved in the process.

Asked by reporters what would be done if it proved true that Croatia used the money it obtained from EU funds to control the border for the accommodation of personnel taking part in forcible expulsions of migrants, EC spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said on Thursday that an investigation would be launched.

Jahnz noted that the EC was closely following how European money is spent and if it turns out that it has been used for illegal activities, payments may be suspended, penalties imposed or a refund of the money demanded.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 1 October 2021

PM: We Didn't Join EU to Take as Much Money as Possible, EU Values Important

ZAGREB, 30 Sept 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Croatia had been an EU member for eight years, that it had experience and was respected, and that getting as much money as possible was not the reason it joined the EU but that the values and principles on which the EU was founded were more important.

The EU is founded on democracy, human rights protection, rule of law, market economy and, most importantly, the Christian principle of solidarity, which imbues all EU policies, he stressed.

Plenković was speaking at the opening of a two-day hybrid conference called "Days of regional development and EU funds - New opportunities" in Opatija, at which the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, project results and new challenges will be presented.

Croatia got HRK 50bn more from EU budget than it paid 

Plenković said that Croatia had obtained around HRK 50 billion more from the EU budget than it had paid into it, citing as an example the COVID-19 crisis, when EU member-countries joined forces and invested in protective equipment, control and research that enabled the vaccine and gradual restoration of life to normalcy.

He noted that central and eastern European countries in transition had been part of undemocratic systems and that their main preoccupation was how to catch up with those that had developed in democratic systems and were more developed, estimating that Croatia would catch up with those countries around 2030.

He recalled that the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was HRK 35 billion, while damage caused by two destructive earthquakes amounted to HRK 129 billion, stressing that €25 billion had been secured from the EU for Croatia's development in the coming period.

Plenković underlined the importance of informing citizens about the additional benefits of Croatia's EU membership.

"That framework is important to us now that we have political peace, local elections have just been held and we have a government that has three years until the next parliamentary elections, which is almost a unique case," he said.

He added that the parliamentary majority was strong and stable, based on trust between the HDZ, minority deputies and liberal parties, and that it would remain stable for the next three years.

Five goals of economic development

He said that Croatia had weathered the crisis without major problems and lay-offs, that the 2020 tourist season reflected the circumstances, while this year's season was beyond expectations.

Plenković noted that economic growth would exceed projections and underlined five goals - greater convergence with more developed countries, using EU funds for even regional development, green and digital transition, using EU funds for local development and improving the standard of living.

He said that the incumbent government wanted entry to the Schengen area and the euro area to be its legacy, underlining the responsibility of all political parties in contributing to efforts to explain to citizens the benefits of membership of the two areas.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan is a new instrument that will require expediency, with deadlines being shorter, he said, calling on everyone to cooperate and make sure projects were good.

Minister: Croatia must be able to introduce euro in 2023

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said the past year had been very successful in terms of absorption of EU funds.

We have adopted a number of important regulations, created a new framework for regional development and EU funds, and we are entering a period in which funds made available to us have never been higher, she said.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said that one of the government's strategic goals at the start of its term was the consolidation of public finances, noting that the introduction of the euro depended on meeting a number of criteria.

We must do our best to make Croatia able to introduce the euro in 2023, he said.

The conference in Opatija was organised by the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry as an opportunity to exchange experience, network and strengthen cooperation to more efficiently implement projects in the new financing period in which Croatia will have around €25 billion at its disposal, to be used as part of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 10 September 2021

MEP Warns Against Manipulating Consumers with Incomplete Product Information

ZAGREB, 10 Sept 2021- Labelling products made with imported raw materials 'local' is perfidious manipulation of consumers, European Parliament member Biljana Borzan said on Friday, after her amendments for more transparent labelling of products in the EU were adopted by the competent EP committees.

The EP committees on environment, public health and food safety and on agriculture and rural development on Friday stated their position on the European Commission's proposal for the From Farm to Fork strategy and adopted amendments put forward by Borzan, a Croatian Social Democrat who is the Socialists' rapporteur on the strategy.

Borzan asked in her amendments that the system of identifying the origin of raw materials on food products in the EU be changed to include the name of the country of origin, the exact content of honey from the EU in relation to third countries, such as China, and more visible identification of the origin of primary raw materials on food products sold on the EU market.

"Producers use the fact that in each member-country, including Croatia, 70% or more citizens prefer local products to make them believe that they have bought local products," Borzan told a news conference in Zagreb.

"I am not denying producers the right to import raw materials if there is not a sufficient amount of the raw materials they need in Croatia, but consumers must be aware of that and must not be misled," she said.

The current practice is to label a product on the front of the packaging "local, Slavonian, Dalmatian, Istrian, etc." while on the back of the packaging the country of origin of the raw material other than Croatia is put in small print, she said.

If, for example, the Slavonian kulen salami is made from imported meat, that information should be clearly visible on the packaging, she said, noting that currently information on the country of origin is necessary only for products such as fresh and frozen meat, fish and eggs but not for smoked and cured meats, milk and dairy products, which are labelled only "made in the EU", which Borzan believes should be changed.

The SDP MEP thanked former Croatian MEP Ruža Tomašić for ensuring support of her political group (European Conservatives and Reformists) for her amendments, recalling also the contribution to the EP's position of Croatian MEPs Tonino Picula, Sunčana Glavak and Ivan Vilibor Sinčić.

MEP Picula's amendments to contribute to consumption of locally produced food 

Amendments by Croatian member of the European Parliament Tonino Picula to the EU's From Farm to Fork Strategy, which were adopted on Friday by the EP committees on environment, public health and food safety and on agriculture and rural development, will contribute to tourists consuming local food, which will help small family farms and rural areas in Croatia, Picula's office said after the vote on the strategy before the two EP committees.

"Protection of small local producers in the supply chain as well as consumption of local and fresh organic food is a guarantee of the long-term survival of our family farms and consequently the survival and prosperity of rural areas," Picula said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Croatia Will Not Follow EU Red List Recommendation for US Travelers

September 1, 2021 - The United States has been put on the EU red list, meaning reintroducing restrictions on American travelers is recommended for EU members. Croatia, however, has decided they won't follow suit. 

A few days ago, the European Union Council recommended that EU members reintroduce restrictions on American travelers. The removal from the EU safe list means that unnecessary travel becomes subject to temporary travel restrictions, such as testing, quarantine, or a total ban. However, compliance with the recommendations is not mandatory.

Accordingly, Croatia will not follow the EU recommendation that removed the US from the list of safe countries for traveling during the pandemic, confirmed Davor Božinović, Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister, and Chief of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, reports HRTurizam.

EU members have recommended removing the US, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia from the list of safe countries, meaning travelers from those countries should undergo stricter border controls, such as coronavirus testing and quarantine.

However, Croatian epidemiologists estimate that American citizens and Israeli citizens do not pose a risk to Croatia in the event of tourist arrivals, given that the epidemiological conditions for entering the country have been defined.

The US vaccination campaign has stalled in recent months and has lagged significantly behind EU vaccination efforts. More than 57% of the EU population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 52% in the United States. The U.S. has more than 1,000 new cases a day, the highest level since March.

The presence of American tourists in Croatia has been positive in the August statistics so far, and even September arrivals are still expected. At the moment, the United States remains on Croatia's safe list, which means that the travelers arriving from the USA do not have to provide any reason for their travel to enter Croatia. However, they will be required to prove that they’ve been vaccinated, have tested negative, or have recovered from COVID and that they haven’t spent any significant time outside of the “green countries.”

Follow the latest flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Minister: Croatia to Discuss with Its Partners whether to Take in More Afghans

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - Croatia will decide, in talks with its partners, whether to take in more Afghan nationals fleeing the Taliban rule, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Sunday after the arrival of 19 Afghans who will seek and be granted asylum in Croatia. 

"We will see with our partners whether to take in more Afghan nationals," Grlić Radman told the public HTV broadcaster, adding that Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović would travel to Brussels next week to discuss migrations and refugees with other EU ministers.

Nineteen Afghan nationals - three families with children - arrived at Zagreb Airport on Saturday. The immigrants had worked as support staff for the Croatian mission in Afghanistan and had been vetted prior to their employment. The Ministry of the Interior has said that their identity will not be made known for the sake of their security.

"They have already been provided with accommodation... those three families include ten children, they are the most vulnerable group," said the minister.

"We have responded right away, in line with our possibilities and logistic conditions," Grlić Radman said.

He stressed that Afghanistan was faced with a major humanitarian crisis and that the situation in the country was changing the paradigm of global security.

"This will be a very sensitive security issue that will require multilateral action because we all want peace and stability in that part of the world," he said, adding that one could also hear that the Taliban were not what they had been 20 years ago.

On French president's visit

Commenting on a report about a plan for French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Croatia, Grlić Radman said that preparations for the visit had been going on for some time and that the French president was expected to pay a working visit in October or November, as well as that the date would be determined by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Grlić Radman underlined the importance of France in the EU and the global order, pointing to a joint proposal by Paris and London for Kabul Airport to be declared a safe zone.

"France constitutes the backbone of the EU," said the minister.

The talks with Macron will focus on the promotion of bilateral relations, economic cooperation, and the future of the Western Balkans and Southeast Europe, Grlić Radman said, recalling that the new EU admission methodology had complicated EU entry talks for North Macedonia and Albania.

"Croatia will try to appeal for stronger involvement by France" when it comes to security and stability in the Western Balkans, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the minister.

He noted that Croatia considered Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country with an EU membership prospect and wanted to discuss the importance of changes to its election law.

"That is the only way to make BiH functional and stable, with legitimate representatives of all peoples at all levels of government. The election law should guarantee the equality of all three constituent peoples," said Grlić Radman.

On ambassadorial appointments

Considering that by the end of the year 28 ambassadors and consuls should be appointed, and asked about disagreements between President Zoran Milanović and PM Plenković in that regard, Grlić Radman said that the impasse in talks on the matter had been resolved.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Bridge MP Says Croatia Turning into an EU Retirement Home

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - Zvornimir Troskot, a member of parliament from the opposition Bridge party, said on Monday that the economic situation in the country was not good despite the government's boasting about it being excellent, and he also criticised insufficient production and the country's heavy reliance on tourism.

"It is good that GDP has grown by 16.1% in the last quarter considering our open tourism strategy but we have also been lucky because Spain has been on lockdown due to the pandemic and Greece due to wildfires," Troskot said at a news conference.

He noted that experts did not comment on the impact of inflation and price growth on GDP growth.

"If there are no more external shocks like the pandemic and lockdown, we will return to Croatia's economic reality, namely a 91% share of debt in GDP. That is why we should talk about real structural reforms in the economic sector because during the lockdown, too, the hospital system spent enormous amounts of money despite the fact that hospital care was less available than normally," he said, calling also for a reform of the judiciary.

Economy based on tourism, instead of on production

Troskot believes that public sector investments are yet another problem and recalls that the government has said that EU funds intended for recovery from the coronavirus crisis will eventually end up with private enterprises.

That money will possibly reach entrepreneurs through public procurement and we know how those allocations are made and that they do not reach entrepreneurs, he said, noting that his party had proposed transferring EU funds directly to entrepreneurs who had 68 prepared projects instead of financing public infrastructure projects that should not be a priority at the moment.

The MP also said that the national economy was not based on production, as evidenced by projects like the Pelješac Bridge, which, he said, was good, however, the EU funds approved for it had ended up in the accounts of Chinese, Greek and Austrian companies working on it.

We have based our economy on tourism instead of on production which creates jobs and which is the best instrument to fight inflation, he said.

"When we look at the whole picture, we get the impression that Croatia is becoming exclusively a tourist destination and is turning into a retirement home for the EU," he said, noting that 310,000 Croatians, born between 1984 and 1999, had emigrated to Germany.

He warned that in Slovakia wages in the past 15 years had grown by one thousand euros, while in Croatia they had increased by 327 euros, or a mere 20 euros annually.

Referendum on euro introduction

Asked if Bridge would support the campaign of the Croatian Sovereignists calling for a referendum on the introduction of the euro, Troskot said that his party was in favour of introducing the euro, but that Croatia was still not ready for it because it lacked own production and was not ready for the strong competition in the EU.

"Yes to the euro because we assumed that obligation under the Lisbon Treaty, but not for the time being because we are still not ready for it," he said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Croatian Coast No Longer Green on ECDC Corona Map!

July 15, 2021 - Not the best news for the peak season - the Croatian coast is no longer green on the ECDC corona map! 

The Croatian coast is no longer green on the new corona map of the European Union published by ECDC, reports Index.hr.

The entire Adriatic part of Croatia is now in orange.

The ECDC map is updated every week. Colors for individual areas are determined by a combination of the number of confirmed cases in the past 14 days per 100 thousand inhabitants and the percentage of the population tested. The latest map was released today.

It is the most important coronavirus map in the European Union, and it is considered a reference because EU member states adopt measures and determine the conditions for entry from a particular country according to the color that the country has on the ECDC map.

The vast majority of Europe is still in the green zone. The Croatian coast, parts of Greece, part of the Netherlands, part of Sweden, Ireland, and the south of France are now marked in orange.

Spain, Portugal, a small part of Greece, part of Denmark, and part of the northeast of the Netherlands, as well as Luxembourg, are red. 

Parts of Spain, as well as a very small part of the Netherlands, are dark red, symbolizing the worst epidemiological situation.

The headquarters announced that 139 new cases in Croatia were recorded in the last 24 hours, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is 653.

Among the active are 110 patients on hospital treatment, of which 9 patients are on a respirator.

The headquarters also announced that no deceased persons had been registered in the last 24 hours.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 25 June 2021

SDA, Džaferović, Komšić: Croatia Defeated In EP Regarding Ethnic Divisions

June 25th, 2021 -  The leading Bosniak party, SDA, and two members of the Bosnian Presidency, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić, said on Thursday that Croatia and the concept of ethnic divisions were defeated in the EP with the rejection of an amendment on constituent peoples to a Bosnia and Herzegovina progress report.

At a plenary on Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a report on BiH, rejecting amendments by Croatian MEPs on the rights of constituent peoples, which the European People's Party supported but not the Liberals, the Left, and the Greens.

"The rejection of the amendment by the parliamentarians from Croatia and ultra-right European parties, which asked of BiH to additionally deepen discrimination in the election process... is a clear message as to which direction future reforms of the Constitution and electoral legislation in BiH should take," the SDA said in a press release.

Komšić called the result of the vote in Brussels a clear message to Zagreb.

"That was as expected given the fact that the allegedly legitimate representation of the constituent peoples has no basis in European Court of Human Rights rulings. That's a message Zagreb should take note of well because it's clear now that the ethnic concept they are forcing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not acceptable to the EU," he said.

Džaferović said Croatia's idea to introduce "the rhetoric of ethnic divisions" in the EP resolution was rejected.

"After NATO's refusal at the past summit to include similar formulations in its declaration, this is the second important message after which Zagreb should... start changing its policy on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Any attempt by Zagreb to impose solutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina will fail and an unnecessary decline of Croatia's reputation," he said.

Džaferović said BiH should reform its Constitution and electoral legislation based on ECHR rulings and European Commission recommendations to eliminate discrimination and ensure equality for all its citizens across the country.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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