Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Hungary's Viktor Orban Makes Bizarre Claim That Croatia "Took Their Sea"

May the 11th, 2022 - The Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is known for his rather unusual political sentiments, but this one probably takes the cake. He recently claimed that Croatia ''took Hungary's sea'', leaving it without ports. This was said in front of Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission's President.

As Morski writes, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban yesterday over Hungary's opposition to the European Union's joint embargo on Russian oil. Von der Leyen said after the meeting that progress had been made and that some issues with Orban had been clarified.

''We've made some progress, but there's still work to be done,'' she added, which actually means that no concrete agreement has yet been reached with Hungary, the leader of which is very reluctant to firmly join the EU on its stance against Russia.

As one European diplomat explained to France Presse, Hungary would need a new pipeline to secure its oil supply, connecting it to the Republic of Croatia, which has access to the sea. Therefore, it seeks guarantees that Zagreb will engage in the construction of this infrastructure, as well as guarantees of European Union funding to facilitate it financially.

''Those who have sea and ports are able to bring oil on tankers. If they hadn't taken it away from us (the sea), we would also have a port,'' Viktor Orban said in an interview with the Hungarian state radio last Friday, as reported by Politico, which explains that Orban was referring to the Dalmatian coast.

Hungary is otherwise the biggest opponent of the joint EU embargo on Russian oil, and Viktor Orban has been seen as a thorn in the side of many diplomats and politicians across the EU for some time now.

To briefly recall, all 27 EU member states must be unanimous in order for sanctions to be imposed against Russia. The sanctions proposal cites certain exceptions, but both Slovakia and Hungary consider them to be insufficient. Hungary is the country that strongly opposes the European embargo on Russian oil and has already asked for a five-year postponement.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday night that Hungary cannot accept the proposed package of European Union sanctions on Russia until its fears are resolved.

Earlier, Prime Minister Orban said that the European Commission's proposal would have the effect of an "atomic bomb for Hungary".

"It would destroy our stable energy supply," he added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 9 May 2022

What Will Average Croatian Wage and Pension be in Eurozone?

May the 9th, 2022 - With Eurozone entry rapidly approaching and due at the very beginning of next year, just what will the average Croatian wage and pension be? It seems an increase is on the cards.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, when Croatia introduces the euro at the beginning of 2023, the average Croatian wage (net salary) will stand at around 900 euros, and an average pension will stand at around 320 euros, considering the fact that due to ongoing inflation, personal incomes and pensions across Croatia could increase slightly before the changeover from the kuna to the euro anyway.

If we take in some information and consider it relevant data on the average net salary across the EU back in 2021, which amounted to 1916 euros per month, it means that the average Croatian salary needs to be about a thousand euros to reach the EU average. In nearby Austria, the average net salary last year was 2053 euros, and in Belgium - an impressive 2091 euros.

In Bulgaria, the average net income last year was 413 euros, and the average Croatian wage was 797 euros, while the neighbouring Slovenians received an average of 1,038 euros per month back in 2021, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

The Czechs were doing slightly better than the Croats were with a typical net salary of 813 euros, and the Danes were much better, with 3,100 euros, placing them at the very top of the European Union (EU). They are closely followed by the Swedes with a salary of 3062 euros.

The Estonians are also better paid than Croats typically are, with an average salary of 958 euros net, with the Latvians and Lithuanians being weaker with 648 euros and 645 euros respectively. The people of Cyprus receive an excellent 1,658 euros, and Malta also earns well from the Croatian perspective, with an average Maltese wage being about 2261 euros per month.

They are followed by rich EU countries: Finland with 2509 euros, France with 2157 euros and Germany with 2270 euros as an average salary.

The average Greek earns 917 euros, a Portuguese worker 846, a Pole 736, a Slovak 690, and a Hungarian 683 euros. Over in Romania, the average net salary is only 522 euros, meaning that only the Bulgarians are the poorest in the EU.

The average net salary in Italy is 1,762 euros, and in neighbouring Spain 1,718 euros. The real "heavyweights" are the Icelanders with 3435 euros and the Luxembourgers with 3009 euros, followed by the Irish with 2479 euros and the Dutch with 2263 euros.

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

Friday, 6 May 2022

Croatian Euro Printing to Begin on Large Scale in July 2022

May the 6th, 2022 - Croatian euro printing is set to begin on an enormous scale come this July, as Croatia makes the very last preparations to send the kuna to the history books and finally join the Eurozone next year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro has once again confirmed that all of the current preparatory steps are in line with the plan to switch to the bloc's single currency on the first day of 2023. Recently, the Croatian National Bank (CNB) finally presented the design of the national side of the one euro coin, which was selected in a repeated tender.

The CNB has already begun preparations for large-scale Croatian euro printing, and according to Governor Boris Vujcic, mass production should start during the month of July. Before that, one million kuna's worth of test coins will be made by the middle of next month, the central bank says.

By this summer, the ongoing tender for the services of creating and implementing an informative national campaign to replace the kuna with the euro will be concluded. The estimated value of this public procurement stands at a massive 27 million kuna, and half of the campaign costs are being borne by the European Commission (EC).

Currently, no obstacles are being noticed

All in all, in recapitulating the course of preparatory activities from the 15th session of the Council, it was said that everything is going according to the planned deadlines. The Prime Minister recalled that the Croatian Government adopted a report on the action plan back in late March, which confirmed that all reform commitments made upon entering the European Exchange Rate Mechanism ERM II (in July 2020) had now been met by Croatia.

Croatian euro printing aside, the competent ministers responsible for individual areas of measures from the action plan briefly reported on the activities carried out in the area of ​​improving the business environment, managing state-owned enterprises, strengthening the bankruptcy framework and the framework for preventing money laundering.

The new Minister of Economy Davor Filipovic emphasised the administrative relief that will be felt by the domestic economy with an estimated effect of 686 million kuna, as well as 531 million kuna of reduced non-tax and parafiscal benefits. From the judicial department, they primarily emphasised the changes in the bankruptcy law and the improved framework for the work of bankruptcy trustees.

Increased inflation rates, which according to recently updated government projections rose to a concerning 7.8 percent of the annual average this year, do not pose a problem or obstacle in the context of the convergence criteria for the euro, both the government and the CNB are strongly convinced.

Regarding the inflation criterion (up to 1.5 percentage points above the average of the three best performing countries), Governor Boris Vujcic explained that, for a start, this criterion doesn't refer explicitly to the (three) lowest inflation rates but instead to the best performance.

Imported price pressures

The governor reiterated that the greatest advantage of the euro is shown during financial and other such crises, such as the recent global coronavirus pandemic or the current crisis being caused by the economic consequences of the war in Europe, more precisely in Ukraine.

This, he said, is especially true for small and open economies such as that of Croatia, and the country's lag over the past decade is the result of a stronger decline in the crisis and a longer recovery period, partly due to Croatia's then inability to rely on the ECB's monetary policy. Although inflationary pressures will obviously last longer than expected before the escalation of the war in Ukraine, and imported inflationary pressures may spill over into Croatian prices, the governor underlined that this should not be linked to the introduction of the euro.

People are often afraid of prices being rounded up upon a country's entry to the Eurozone, but now these effects don't really seem crucial. In the seven countries that last entered the Eurozone, prices which were a mere 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points higher were recorded.

For more, check out our 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.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Expect to be Able to Drive Across Peljesac Bridge at End of July!

May the 2nd, 2022 - Even though the company responsible for constructing the long awaited Peljesac bridge has been working day and night to get the massive project completed by the prescribed deadline, many of us thought the delays would just keep on rolling in for this gigantic Croatian and European Union project which will unite Croatian territory (the extreme south of Dalmatia and the rest of the country) to be completed.

It now seems that we can say with confidence that you'll finally be able to drive across the strategic project at the end of July this year.

Peljesac bridge, which will cut out the need for people driving to and from the extreme south of Dalmatia to cross into neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and then back out again (more precisely through the town of Neum, that country's only piece of coastline), is often referred to as the most significant project since the declaration of Croatian independence.

As Morski writes, Peljesac Bridge is finally scheduled to open this July, along with most of the access roads which have been taking some time to get completed. An HRT team visited the site to look at what stage the works on the bridge were at and whether they were affected by the recent earthquakes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were most felt in the wider Dubrovnik area.

''According to the current plans and dynamics of the works, people will likely be able to drive across Peljesac bridge during the second half of July when the works on the access roads are completed,'' said Jeroslav Segedin, the project manager for the Peljesac Bridge - Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste).

He added that the technical inspection of the bridge has been performed, and that some minor shortcomings were noticed, which have been eliminated over more recent days. As for the bridge itself as a construction, everything is completely finished now, he pointed out. He also referred to the most technically demanding part - the Ston bypass.

''The construction of the bridge near Ston has been set, welded, and now a concrete slab is set to be built. It is expected to take four months, so in October or November these works should also be completed,'' he said. Segedin said the recent earthquake in Bosnia and Herzegovina didn't affect Peljesac bridge or any of the ongoing works and finalisations.

''When calculating the load-bearing capacity and stability of the bridge structure, one of the parameters is the seismic load, which in this case was much higher than what the earthquake was. We were more worried about how the earthquake affected other facilities along the route - viaducts, the Ston bridge, tunnels, which are still in the construction phase and haven't yet been completed. Fortunately, no damage or indicators were noticed that would suggest that something unexpected may have happened with any of the above,'' concluded Segedin.

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

Monday, 2 May 2022

Zagreb Aims to Withdraw Maximum Amount of EU Cash for Planned Projects

May the 2nd, 2022 - The Croatian capital city of Zagreb is aiming to withdrawn the maximum amount of European Union (EU) cash possible in order to complete all of its planned projects.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the City of Zagreb is among 100 European Union cities and partner countries that will participate in the so-called ''mission of EU cities'', which aims to reduce the carbon footprint being caused in them to an absolute minimum by the year 2030, for which the European Union will allocate 350 million euros from the Horizon Europe programme. According to the European Commission (EC), 75 percent of EU citizens currently live in urban areas.

These areas account for more than 65 percent of the world's energy consumption, and thus more than 70 percent of its CO2 emissions. It is therefore important that cities such as Zagreb be ecosystems for experimentation and innovation to help everyone else in their transition become entirely climate-neutral by 2050. The European Commission will invite 100 selected cities, including Zagreb, to draw up climate agreements, which will include a general plan to achieve climate neutrality across all sectors.

Zorislav Antun Petrovic, President of the Environment Committee of the Zagreb City Assembly, claims that Zagreb is fully ready for the energy transition.

"A few months ago, we presented precisely how we see the green transition of Zagreb to the Committee. The focus is being placed on renewable energy sources, first of all numerous solar power plants on public buildings, and then on private ones, ecological transport, the energy efficiency of lighting - where a lot has already been carried out.

There is also green integrated planning, a centralised heating system, geothermal energy, an energy efficient block reconstruction of the city following the aftermath of the 2020 earthquake, sustainable social housing, a sustainable urban mobility and ZET as a green energy transit on the list, too,'' explained Petrovic, adding hat he is more than sure that Zagreb will be able to withdraw the maximum amount of funds for its planned projects from this EU project as well.

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

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Croatian Public Debt Falling, Placing Country at Top of EU

April the 26th, 2022 - Croatian public debt is continuing to fall, so much so that this decrease has placed the country at the very top of the list of European Union (EU) member states.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the public debt across the European Union and within the Eurozone itself, expressed as a share of GDP, decreased in the fourth quarter of 2021 thanks to the recovery of the economy following the coronavirus crisis, and the Republic of Croatia is among the countries with the biggest decline, a Eurostat report showed last week. At the EU level, public debt as a share of GDP stood at 88.1 percent at the end of 2021.

When it comes to Croatian public debt, consolidated general government debt amounted to 343.6 billion kuna back at the end of December, which corresponded to 79.8 percent of the nation's overall GDP.

Back at the end of September 2021, Croatian public debt amounted to 345.3 billion kuna, which corresponded to 82.7 percent of domestic GDP. At the end of pandemic-dominated 2020, it amounted to 330.4 billion kuna, which corresponded to 87.3 percent of GDP. When it comes to other EU member states, Estonia had the lowest level of public debt at the end of last year, standing at a mere 18.1 percent.

In most European Union countries, public debt as a share of GDP was lower at the end of last year than it was back at the end of 2020, the first year of the global coronavirus pandemic, thanks to a recovery in the economy that was spurred by the easing of epidemiological measures in many countries.

Compared to the end of 2020, public debt decreased the most in Greece and Cyprus, by 13.1 and 11.4 percentage points, respectively. Those countries are followed by Portugal and Croatia, whose public debt as a share of GDP in the fourth quarter was lower by 7.8 and 7.5 percentage points, respectively.

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

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Croatia Among EU Countries with Highest Industrial Output Growth in February

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - The European Union's industrial production recovered in February, fuelled by production of durable consumer goods, and Croatia was among the member states with the largest increases in output, according to Eurostat data released on Wednesday.

In the European Union, the seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 0.6% in February compared with January, when it declined by 0.3%. In the euro area, industrial production increased by 0.7% compared with the previous month when it fell by 0.7%.

Monthly comparison

Production of durable consumer goods increased the most, by 2.4% in the EU and by 2.7% in the euro area. In January, it fell by 0.4% in the EU and by 0.8% in the euro area.

Only the energy sector recorded a decrease, of 0.6% in the EU and 1.1% in the euro area.

Among member states, the highest monthly increases were registered in Italy (+4.0%), Croatia (+2.7%) and Ireland (+2.4%). 

It was the highest rate for Croatia since March 2021. In January 2022, industrial production in Croatia fell by 0.5%.

The largest decreases were observed in Slovenia (-8.3%), Lithuania (-3.8%) and Malta (-2.7%).

Annual comparison

In February 2022 compared with February 2021, industrial production increased by 3.0% in the EU and by 2.0% in the euro area. In January 2022, industrial production stagnated in the EU and declined by 1.5% in the euro area.

The recovery was driven by production of durable consumer goods, which increased by 6.3% in the EU and by 5.8% in the euro area. In January, production in this sector rose by 1.5% in the EU and stagnated in the euro area.

Only capital goods production decreased, by 2.1% in the EU and by 3.1% in the euro area.

Among member states, the highest annual increases were registered in Lithuania (+20.4%), Poland (+17.8%) and Bulgaria (+14.4%), while the largest decreases were observed in Ireland (-14.1%), Portugal (-5.7%) and Malta (-3.5%).

In Croatia, industrial production increased by 4.1% in February 2022 compared with February 2021, following an increase of 3.5% in January 2022.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Croatia Given Two Reasoned Opinions in April EU Law Infringement Package

ZAGREB, 6 April 2022 - Croatia on Wednesday received two reasoned opinions as part of the April package of EU law infringements, which the European Commission publishes once a month.

Together with Spain and Luxembourg, Croatia has been given a reasoned opinion for failing to ensure complete transposition into national legislation of the Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings.

The directive introduces new elements to strengthen the existing framework, such as minimum requirements regarding the energy properties of new buildings, electromobility and charging stations, as well as new rules on heating and air conditioning system inspections.

The directive is aimed at modernising the construction sector in terms of technological improvements, and increasing the low rates of reconstruction of buildings to improve the energy efficiency of the EU housing stock.

The revised provisions should have been transposed into national legislation by 10 March 2020. In May 2020 all three member states received a formal warning over failure to transpose the directive.

After reviewing national measures, the EC considers that the transposition of the directive into national law in Croatia, Spain and Luxembourg has not been completed and is now sending them a reasoned opinion.

The countries have two months to respond and if the EC does not receive a satisfactory response, it can decide to refer their cases to the Court of the EU.

The second reasoned opinion, which Croatia received along with eight other member states, refers to the Open Data Directive.

The EC wants the nine member states to provide information on how EU rules on open data and the re-use of public sector information from the Open Data Directive have been transposed into national law.

The deadline for this expired on 17 July 2021 and the member states concerned have not stated all national measures despite formal warnings sent on 30 September 2021.

The directive, adopted on 20 June 2019, aims to use the advantages of using open data and help enable the re-use of the public sector's huge and valuable base of data resources.

This will reduce obstacles to the entry of small and medium companies into the market because costs of data re-use will be reduced, more data will be made available and new business opportunities will be created owing to the exchange of data through the Application Programming Interface.

The directive encourages the development of innovative solutions such as mobility applications, it increases transparency by enabling access to publicly funded research data and supports new technologies, including artificial intelligence. If it does not receive a satisfactory response in two months' time, the EC may decide to refer the case to the EU Court.

The EC, as the guardian of the Treaties, launches EU law infringement procedures based on its own investigations or acting on citizens', companies' or other stakeholders' complaints.

Most of the cases are resolved before they are referred to the Court of the EU.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Croatia's Acute Myeloid Leukemia Survival Rate 5% Below EU Average

ZAGREB, 3 April 2022 - About 150 people in Croatia are annually diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and the survival rate is about 5% below the EU average, a round table on the treatment and quality of life of AML patients heard earlier this week.

"In Croatia, every week three persons are told they have AML, which is 156 annually, according to data from the Cancer Register for 2019. The five-year survival rate is 12.6%, compared to the EU average of 17.2%, which shows that there is considerable room for improving treatment", the participating doctors and patients said at the round table.

AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adulthood and the most frequent age at diagnosis is 65 years, with increasing incidence after 65 years of age. It has the lowest survival rate compared to other types of leukemia and is treatable in about 40 per cent of patients aged under 60 years, most frequently by bone marrow transplantation from an unrelated donor.

"In Croatia, we have 70,000 bone marrow samples and we can find an unrelated donor relatively quickly, which is why nearly every patient in Croatia has a chance to get a transplant and be cured. The number of transplantations has reached one hundred annually, which is within the European average," haematologist Radovan Vrhovac said.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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