Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Dalmatian Dog: Croatian National Bank Issues Special Motif Kuna Coins

February the 22nd, 2022 - As Croatia's accession to the Eurozone approaches, special motif kuna in gold and silver will be issued by the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB) showcasing the Dalmatian, a much loved dog breed which originates from Croatia's gorgeous Dalmatian coast.

It won't be long before the Croatian national currency, the kuna, is rendered invalid and sent to the history books as the country enters the Eurozone, a move it had to promise to make in order to gain EU accession. The only countries which didn't have the make that promise and enjoyed opt-outs were Denmark and the United Kingdom. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the author of the conceptual and artistic design of these special motif kuna gold and silver coins is Nikola Vudrag, and the coin which celebrates the clownish and much loved Dalmatian dog breed was made in the Croatian Mint.

The Croatian National Bank will issue a gold special motif 1000 kuna coin in a quantity of not more than 101 pieces, another gold special motif 250 kuna coin in a quantity of not more than 2,000 pieces and a silver 20 kuna coin in a quantity of not more than 500 pieces. Back in November 2021, the CNB issued two gold coins and a silver coin with the same special motif.

The sale of these gold and silver coins will be performed by the Croatian Mint, and the initial selling price is expected to be around 16,000.00 kuna without VAT for the first 1000 kuna coin, and about 3,800.00 kuna without VAT for a gold 250 kuna coin.

The initial selling price for the silver 20 kuna coin will be around 1,592.00 kuna without VAT. The final selling price of gold and silver special motif kuna coins will depend on the movement of gold and silver prices on the open market as time goes on.

Those interested can purchase these commemorative coins as of now, and more about ordering and purchasing them can be found on this website.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Why Was Croatia Granted EU Fund Use Delay? Plenkovic Explains

February the 20th, 2022 - The European Commission (EC) very recently granted the Republic of Croatia an EU fund use delay. The cash in question is from what's known as the Solidarity Fund.

While 2020 was a horrendous year for the vast majority of the globe, if not all of it, thanks to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and its journey around the world in the form of a pandemic, Croatia also suffered two devastating earthquakes. One struck the City of Zagreb in March, and another struck Sisak-Moslavina County in Central Croatia at the very end of December that year. Known as the Petrinja earthquake, this shattering natural disaster is still fresh in people's minds and the reconstruction process is moving at a classical snail's pace.

The situation here in the very heart of Zagreb isn't miles better, but when it is compared to the situation that has been left to fester in Petrinja, Glina and other nearby locations, it's difficult to fathom how December 2020 was now so long ago. 

We recently wrote about PM Andrej Plenkovic having successfully secured an EU fund use delay from the European Commission which would allow those funds from the aforementioned Solidarity Fund to be utlised until June 2023. Plenkovic has since been asked how and why that approval was given from the EC.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic recently commented on current events and his stay in the Belgian capital of Brussels following probes from journalists. He was also asked if Ursula von der Leyen had asked him to explain why the post-earthquake reconstruction following 2020's natural disasters in Croatia is going so painfully slowly.

“There are two fundamental reasons for that, you have progressive damage and you've also got a global pandemic. These are extraordinary circumstances, they're acts of God. Other countries had the use of the same Solidarity Fund, but not in such conditions,'' explained Plenkovic.

Asked whether or not things being classed as an act of God was the only reason why the Republic of Croatia had successfully received an EU fund use delay, Plenkovic said that it was.

"I don't know another capital city that was hit by such a strong earthquake in these circumstances," Plenkovic briefly commented.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Plenkovic Secures Croatian EU Fund Absorption Extension Until Mid-2023

February the 19th, 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has managed to secure a Croatian EU fund absorption extension until the summer of 2023 owing to the unusual circumstances surrounding the natural disasters which struck Central Croatia back in 2020 in the form of devastating earthquakes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the European Commission (EC) has stated that when it comes to Croatian EU fund absorption, more precisely money from the Solidarity Fund, it will be sympathetic towards the circumstances surrounding it.

Those of us living in the City of Zagreb and who remember the earthquake happening and the sheer amount of time it took for any sort of real clean up to begin will have a particular understanding of the circumstances that have caused the Prime Minister to request an extension. Many obstacles, mainly in the form of paperwork and a slow administration which wasn't helped by the pandemic continue to exist on the road to post-earthquake recovery, particularly in Sisak-Moslavina County following December 2020's horrific earthquake.

"Glad to meet with Andrej Plenkovic today. We discussed reconstruction work supported by the European Union after the Zagreb and Petrinja earthquakes. Given the exceptional circumstances, the Commission will look favourably at the request to align deadlines for absorption of EUSF funds to June 2023,'' she wrote on her Twitter.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also took to Twitter and spoke about the meeting.

"Following the arguments presented by Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission will approve the use of EUSF funds to repair the damage from the Zagreb earthquake until June 2023, which is in line with the period for the use of the Banovina earthquake allocation (of funds) due to progressive damage," he wrote in his own tweet.

For more on Croatia and the EU, as well as Croatian EU fund use across various sectors, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

European Sustainable Tourism Plan Looks to Croatian eVisitor System

February the 15th, 2022 - Croatia certainly loves to sit back and count the overnight stays during the tourist season, but as sustainable tourism becomes the direction in which more and more countries are heading in, how much can other countries look towards the Croatian eVisitor system for inspiration?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, in the near future, EU member states will no longer measure their tourism results through arrivals and overnight stays being registered, but with the help of digital technologies and artificial intelligence, unique, standardised tools will be developed to monitor EU-wide social, environmental and economic impacts.

So far, the deadlines for the introduction of these new metrics haven't been defined, which will include changes in legislation and a number of new infrastructure solutions, but national tourist boards will play a key role in this.

The experience of the Croatian eVisitor system could have a significant impact on the process, as has since been learned. The plan for the introduction of new statistical methods for monitoring the results of tourism, with the introduction of sustainable solutions and digitisation is the most important topic of the just published report of the European Commission (EC).

It is a document that confirms the agreement of EU tourist boards to implement new tourism metrics and to give priority to both residents and tourists when it comes to tourism services, instead of harmfully imposing the number of nights as the only criterion for growth and development.

The report was created together with the destinations of the European Union and industrial players. Some analysts of global trends suggest it could be a turning point for the future of EU tourism, while others are skeptical about its future implementation, which has not yet been defined.

"We believe that European national tourism organisations should be the European Commission's main partner and play a major role in implementing these solutions in the coming years. While most have well-established tools to provide a wide range of key performance indicators related to the quantitative economic aspects of tourism, most still struggle with the lack of a broader picture of the impact of tourism,'' said Luis Araujo, President of the European Travel Commission.

He is convinced that expanding metrics and coordination at European Union level will significantly facilitate the sustainable transition of destinations. The Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB) will also actively participate in the process.

"This is a document created in the context of pandemic-induced disorders and which, among other things, emphasises the need for more sustainable tourism and tourism that is more resilient to crises. Green and digital transitions stand out as key, especially in areas such as sustainable competitiveness, legislation and policy, technical solutions and infrastructure. Great emphasis has also been placed on the collection of other types of data, such as tourist traffic, as well as environmental, economic and social indicators.

In this regard, the ETC and national tourism organisations are already working to establish a single set of indicators that could monitor and compare European Union destinations in terms of the impact of tourism and tourism sustainability,'' the CNTB revealed.

They also added that the CNTB can contribute to the collection and processing of this data with existing solutions, such as the world's unique technological solution for monitoring and analysing tourist traffic, the Croatian eVisitor system, but also by developing new smart digital solutions and services and improving knowledge and skills, as well as the further development and management of tourist destinations and products.

They also added that various national documents that are being drafted, the Strategy for the Development of Sustainable Tourism until 2030 and the National Plan for the Development of Sustainable Tourism from 2021 to 2027 should also contribute to the process.

For more, check out our travel section.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Croatian Property Market at Risk of Collapse? EU Sends Warning to Country

February the 14th, 2022 - Could the Croatian property market be at risk of collapse? It seems so, as with a handful of other countries to whom the European Union (EU) has sent out warnings.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the aforementioned EU warnings were sent to Croatia, Hungary, Liechtenstein and Slovakia. In addition, recommendations were sent to Germany and Austria after they both failed to meet the requirements of the ESRB from back in 2016 and 2019, as reported by Index.

“Financial stability risks related to residential the property market continued to grow in the context of macroeconomic risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic and the continued strong dynamics of the property market, housing loans and household indebtedness. The key vulnerabilities highlighted in the ESRB's assessment are medium-term in nature and relate to the rapid rise in property prices and the possible overvaluation of residential real estate, the level and dynamics of household indebtedness, the growth of housing loans and signs of easing lending standards,'' it was said,

A special warning for Croatia in regard to the Croatian property market notes that "after a long period of correction and subdued growth, real property price growth accelerated to 8% year on year back in early 2019."

"According to the estimates of the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB), property prices are increasingly deviating from their long-term basis. This is influenced by a number of supply and demand factors. First of all, in some regions, a significant part of the demand for housing comes from foreigners (about 10% in total). While total transaction activity was lower after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the share of foreign buyers remained at pre-crisis levels.

Secondly, Croatia suffered two earthquakes back in 2020, both of them hitting the Zagreb region and causing significant property damage. These events revealed some shortcomings in the quality of standards of the housing built before the 1960s. As a result, fewer apartments were advertised for sale, potentially leading to higher overall price levels. At the same time, the gradual reconstruction of damaged housing, the cost of which is estimated at 23% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, could increase house prices through greater construction activity.

Finally, back in 2020, the Croatian Government extended the housing subsidy scheme, which has now been in force since the end of 2017, and provides higher subsidy rates in less developed regions for the purchase of the first real estate,'' the warning about the Croatian property market reads.

Although only about half of housing transactions are financed through loans, according to the ESRB, real growth in mortgage lending accelerated back during the second half of 2019, and especially during 2020. It averaged approximately 7.5% between January and August 2021.

“To some extent, this dynamic has been driven by the state housing subsidy system, with an increase in the share of subsidised loans from 18% in 2019 to 35% in 2020. Many new loans have been state-subsidised loans. In addition, in the first half of 2021, in the case of some new loans, the maturity exceeded 30 years. In June 2021, the share of mortgage loans represented about 12% of the real estate market in Croatia,'' it has been stated.

“At the same time, household indebtedness in Croatia is relatively low compared to other EU countries. During 2020, loans to households increased in real terms, but at lower rates than loans to apartments. This was the result of a decline in general consumer confidence, while government subsidy schemes for housing maintained a high level of demand for real estate,'' it added.

The EU has since called for the adoption of measures that would prevent "an increase in household indebtedness, ie state subsidies for housing loans."

Finally, the ESRB states that there is "potential for serious negative consequences for the economy" in Croatia in regard to the Croatian property market and its risks.

"The ESRB believes that the key problems are the rapid growth of retail loans and the overestimation of real estate prices due to the lack of explicit measures that could mitigate the risks associated with residential real estate and the real estate sector," as reported by Index.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Croatian Citizens See Defense of Freedom of Speech and Movement as European Parliament's Top Priority

ZAGREB, 14 Feb 2022 - The highest share of Croatian citizens think that the European Parliament's (EP) priority is to defend freedom of speech and freedom of movement, while most respondents in the European Union (EU) think that the EP's top priority should be to defend democracy, a Eurobarometer survey released last Tuesday shows.

In Croatia, the highest number of respondents think that the EP's priority should be to defend freedom of speech (28%) and freedom of movement (28%), while 25% see the protection of human rights as a priority and 22% see democracy as a value the EP should primarily defend.

At the level of the EU, democracy is seen as the most important value (32%), followed by freedom of speech and thought (27%), and the protection of human rights (25%).

Freedom of movement is the most important value for 16% of respondents in the EU, compared to 28% in Croatia.

In the survey, carried out on behalf of the EP, respondents could choose four topics which they think should be a priority to the EP.

At the EU level, the top priority is public health (42%), followed by the fight against poverty and social exclusion (40%) and action against climate change (39%), which is significantly different from the results in Croatia.

Croatian citizens see the fight against poverty as the top priority (52%), followed by support to the economy and the creation of new jobs (48%), public health (34%), and action against climate change (29%).

As many as 83% of Croatian citizens think that Croatia has benefited from being a member of the EU, which is an increase of 5% compared to the previous Eurobarometer survey. In the entire EU, fewer citizens see the benefits of EU membership, with only 72% support.

52% of Croatian respondents see membership of the EU as "a good thing", 9% see it as "a bad thing", while 39% see it as neither a good nor a bad thing.

Most EU citizens (63%) are optimistic about the future of the EU.

According to the survey, citizens' support for the EU, and especially for the EP, significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Croatia and in the EU, 58% of respondents would like the EP to play a more important role.

45% of respondents have a neutral opinion of the EP, and only 17% have a negative opinion. This positive attitude towards the EP is also visible in the latest Standard Barometer 95 of the European Commission, according to which citizens trust the EP the most out of all EU institutions.

Since 2015, the percentage of respondents with a positive opinion of the European Parliament has increased by 12%, to 36%.

In Croatia, 43% of respondents have a positive opinion of the EP, 48% a neutral and only 9% a negative opinion.

The autumn Eurobarometer survey of the EP was conducted from 2 November to 3 December 2021 in all 27 EU member states.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Could Croatian Minimum Wage Rise Under Pressure from Brussels?

February the 12th, 2022 - Could the Croatian minimum wage finally be forced into an increase under increasing pressure from the European Union in Brussels? Things might have to dramatically alter by June with yet another EU directive.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, a new directive on an adequate minimum wage across the European Union could come out of Brussels' ''kitchen'' by June and force the Croatian minumum wage upwards.

Although its pillar is the introduction of the institute of the minimum wage, which, unlike here in Croatia, is not yet available to all EU member states, the domestic labour market could be shaken by the additional demand it will bring, which is that the member state must actively strive to cover at least 70 to 80 percent of its workers with collective agreements.

The directive seeks to strengthen the European Union's idea of ​​social security and it has strong political support, as could be heard recently coming from the Belgian capital.

The topic is on the table of the convocation of the European Parliament in the continuation of this mandate and is being additionally pushed by the current President of France. On the eve of the April elections, President Emmanuel Macron's trump card is an ideal opportunity to strengthen France's leadership position in the European Union after the departure of the very well known and long-standing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Although here in Croatia there are regular spears about the amount of the minimum wage that the Government adopts by decree (it isn't enough for workers and is always a question of competitiveness for employers), Croatia is among the 21 member states that already know and are quite well acquainted with this institute.

The exceptions are Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden. By raising the Croatian minimum wage to 3,750 kuna in 2022, Croatia has approached the goal set by the new EU directive, which is that the minimum wage must be 60 percent of the gross median and 50 percent of the average gross wage.

Therefore, the directive does not exclude the instrument of minimum wages, but provides a clearer calculation of how to calculate it and provides for a mechanism for testing the adequacy of its national level.

"We hoped that the directive would be passed during the Portuguese presidency, but some countries made a number of remarks, and Croatia doubted whether the goal of at least 70 percent of workers covered by collective agreements would be too difficult to achieve," said Kresimir Sever, the president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions.

It's worth noting that the proposal of the European Commission is that it should be 70 percent of the workers covered by collective agreements, while the MEPs are proposing 80 percent in their amendments. "The aim is to ensure that every worker in the EU is paid for their work so that they can live with dignity, and nothing less than that. Croatia is close to the aforementioned minimum wage target, but hasn't yet reached it in gross terms. The problem in Croatia is low wages, so naturally the Croatian minimum wage is also low,'' the trade unionist added.

The trade unions themselves have a hard time estimating how many workers are actually covered by collective agreements in this country. Sever estimates that about 50 percent of employees in Croatia have a collective agreement in addition to an employment contract, but with the caveat that there is no data on "home" contracts.

In this context, it is important to note that the European Union as a whole is moving towards strengthening the role of trade unions, not only as workers' representatives, but also as bodies that collectively negotiate with employers.

It should be noted that the directive isn't binding, but it does work to further encourage member states to achieve a high percentage of coverage of their workers by collective agreements. The setting of benchmarks and modalities is still being negotiated, as are the timeframes within which each member state should achieve these goals.

Although in practice collective agreements are often perceived as clashes between employers and workers, their prevalence carries wide social consequences.

"The wide application of collective agreements is a way of coordinating wage policies that can ensure greater transparency and certainty of workers' incomes at the national or sectoral level, but also the stability of the workforce and the control of labour costs for employers, without harsh, generally universal legal interventions," said a senior research associate at the Institute for Social Research, Teo Matkovic.

He also mentioned that the legal instrument of the Croatian mininum wage has existed now for just over a decade, and it has been growing significantly for several years since. It is the opposite of collective agreements, the use of which has decreased significantly in the last 20 years or so.

"In this country, the coverage of collective agreements is modest, and the content is thin, especially outside of the public sector, so this coordination mechanism will need to be worked on if the adequacy of income in Croatia is to be relied on," explained Matkovic. He believes that a significantly larger area for collective bargaining, provided by the directive, "would strengthen the position of work across the EU, and in Croatia is likely to reduce emigration and encourage investment in skills and productivity."

For employers, the cost of labour is a calculation of competitiveness, especially emphasised in the circumstances of accelerating inflation and rising costs of raw materials. "Any increase in the Croatian minimum wage has significant consequences for employers, especially in the situation we're now witnessing when there's inflation, the rising cost of living and rising energy prices across the market.

If we take into account the consequences of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, it's clear that employers can hardly bear the new increase in costs, without these costs being accompanied by a reduction in the workload,'' they said from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), also pointed out that they're aware of the need to increase the living standards of citizens, "but it is necessary to apply a rational approach that will not lead to new layoffs."

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Croatian Energy Investment: New EU Plan to Inject 6 Billion Euros

February the 4th, 2022 - Croatian energy investment with a European Union (EU) plan to pump in a massive 6 billion euros is attracting a lot of talk among those in the sector.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, as announced back at the end of last year, the European Union recently presented a plan which, despite being controversial for some, will consider new investments in nuclear energy and gas thermal power plants. On top of that, it will make infrastructure environmentally sustainable, ie green, which means that it will be facilitated institutionally through EU funds and private investments in such projects.

The supplementary delegated act on the taxonomy of climate sustainable activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which covers certain energy activities in the gas and nuclear sectors, is particularly interesting for Croatia and Croatian energy investment because there are several projects that could be financed directly from EU funds on that basis.

First of all, we can look at the second block of the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant, which is primarily planned to be built by the neighbouring Slovenes, for which the first permits were issued last year. Croatia is not indifferent to the project and is likely to participate in it. The Krsko NPP was built back in 1983 and it has remained unchanged to this day. It represents an investment, as well as maintenance and the distribution of energy in equal proportions between the two neighbouring nations of Slovenia and Croatia.

Although there are no details about that yet, it is certain that such a model would be applied to Block 2. The estimated cost of the project is between six and 10 billion US dollars, according to green activists in the wider region who oppose expanding nuclear capacity in Krsko and point out that it is, in addition to being dangerous and archaic, too expensive and unprofitable in regard to technology.

It is interesting that most of the opposition to the upgrade of Krsko comes from Austria, where there is a common position of politicians, as well as from the public and activists that this project must be prevented at all costs. Over more recent years, Croatia has invested heavily in gas infrastructure, and a similar trend is expected in the coming period. The LNG project on Krk proved to be important and functional, as an example. All energy experts have warned for the past 20 years, as far as this project is concerned, that LNG gas is too expensive and unprofitable compared to natural gas coming through gas pipelines.

That being said, they also didn't deny that this is a strategic infrastructure project that will give Croatia and the wider region, through energy diversification, much greater geopolitical power in the event of a political or energy crisis in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. A certain level of instability in the Middle East has become a normal situation for several decades now, and trade and energy flows have learned to "live" with it. The current crisis between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for about ten years, and it has recently escalated again, so the possibility of a war that could range from a low-intensity hybrid conflict through a spatially and temporally limited armed conflict to something continental and of global proportions is something we don't even want to think about at the moment.

Gas prices have risen from about 30 US dollars per megawatt (MWh) to almost 100 dollars. Recently, gas on the reference European gas exchange TTF in the Netherlands was just under 80 dollars. Therefore, it is clear that the existing floating LNG, worth a massive 234 million euros, of which the EU gave Croatia 100 million, has already justified its existence today and the authorities are probably already planning the second phase of the project - building a fixed terminal on the coast and increasing the existing capacities of 2.6 billion cubic metres of gas per year. It appears that Croatian energy investment isn't going to stop there, either.

Croatia has turned almost all of its city heating plants, mostly owned by HEP, into gas power plants, and although the authorities have been pretending over more recent years that the Plomin C project doesn't actually exist, nor has it ever existed, it is increasingly likely that, with its originally planned coal technology, it will also be constructed as a large gas power plant, perhaps on LNG given that this thermal power plant has its own port for docking ships, either for unloading coal, or in the future on LNG.

Additionally, a plan of a private investment in a hybrid gas thermal power plant in Slavonski Brod with a total capacity of 500 MW and an estimated investment value of 420 million euros has been operational for about fifteen years now. Only the listed projects in half of NPP Krsko, the fixed LNG terminal, Plomin C and TPP Slavonski Brod total almost six billion euros and it is clear that the new and green EU classification of nuclear and gas technology will have a great positive effect on Croatia and Croatian energy investment as time goes on.

The presented EU proposal will have to be studied by national governments in the coming period, and before it is officially adopted. The fact is that the EU has 27 member states and that each of them has its own energy strategy and position on the positive or negative effects of a certain form of energy, but the EU has come to this in such a way that one or several countries cannot veto the decision. The EU's plan will be rejected only if 20 member states oppose it, and it is already clear that countries like the Netherlands and Denmark don't want gas involved in the Green Plan, because they use it less and less and sometimes even reject it, while on the other hand, gas is of existential importance for Germany.

The nuclear lobbies in the EU are led by France and the Czech Republic, which are the loudest of them all, and aren't typically opposed by many other countries, which have both realised that they will NOT ensure their energy independence for many years to come. Many green associations and institutions, on the other hand, warn that it will be a step backwards because it will make it difficult and stop many renewable energy projects and give the public the so-called Greenwashing, or a false notion which convinces the public that the products, goals and policies of this plan are environmentally friendly.

The Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development pointed out that the Republic of Croatia, in accordance with the stated policy and its strategic documents in the field of energy, "Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 with a view to 2050" and the “Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan for the Republic of Croatia”, encourages the development of renewable energy sources and the strengthening of energy efficiency.

"In this policy, we can see a number of opportunities for the Croatian economy, especially in the development of new technologies dedicated to renewable energy sources. In order to ensure further economic development, as well as a sustainable transition to clean and climate-neutral technologies, we believe that the inclusion of investments related to natural gas and nuclear energy can have a positive effect on the decarbonisation processes. Of course, all of the above must be dedicated to the ultimate goal of decarbonisation, both of the energy sector and of the economy as a whole,'' said the aforementioned ministry, headed by Minister Tomislav Coric.

For more on Croatian energy investment, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

New Croatian Covid Rules for Travel Outside of Croatia Now in Force

February the 1st, 2022 - Croatian covid rules for travel outside of the country's borders are in force as of today. On top of that, a few other things are changing in regard to the epidemiological measures.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, when will the self-isolation rule for students be abolished, when does their mass testing begin? How will all of this be implemented? Are the schools ready for it? What will the new rules for determining the need for self-isolation look like amid the spread of Omicron and when can the application of these new Croatian covid rules be expected? These are all of the questions floating around as new Croatian covid rules enter into force.

The deputy director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Ivana Pavic Simetin, advisor to the Minister of Education Bozo Pavicin and the president of the Split-Dalmatia branch of the Association of Primary School Principals. Djuro Baloevic, all talked about this as guests of a recent Croatian Radio show.

Ivana Pavic Simetin first spoke about today's Croatian covid rules, with a special emphasis placed on people planning to travel outside of Croatia. She said the move was done to harmonise Croatian covid rules with those regarding travel at the European Union (EU) level.

''For the first time now, the European Commission (EC) is prescribing how long a covid certificate based on vaccination lasts. These certificates are valid for nine months as of full vaccination from today. The booster dose validity is unlimited for now, but administratively speaking, it will most likely remain valid for year from its receipt. If the scientific evidence reveals anything new about the long-term immunity following a person having their booster dose, then it would be extended depending on new findings,'' she said.

For those who were vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine and then caught and recovered from the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, she said that as far as EU digital certificates are concerned, all three types of certificates can be requested.

''One can be requested based on vaccination, one can be requested based on recovery, and then someone who catches Omicron following their vaccination can get a covid certificate which is valid for six months based on their recovery,'' she explained.

Regarding the shortening of the self-isolation period in the wake of Omicron, she said that the document which will go over every detail will be agreed upon in the coming days.

"The whole idea is based on new knowledge about the Omicron variant,'' said Pavic Simetin.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Around 50,000 Croatian Employees Among Lowest Paid in All of EU

January the 31st, 2022 - Around 50,000 Croatian employees are taking home among the lowest wages in the entire European Union (EU). These workers are primarily from the wood/wood processing, textile and leather industries.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian minimum wage at this moment in time stands at 624 euros per month, gross. The highest in the EU is unsurprisingly 2,257 euros in Luxembourg, and in only four countries in the European Union do workers receive a lower minimum wage than here in Croatia. In Hungary, Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria, people take home the EU's lowest minimum wage of a mere 332 euros.

“I should be able to afford to buy some decent clothes, have some sort of normal social life life, such as being able to go to watch a film at the cinema or going to watch a match. What about holidays? It's all getting harder,'' said one person, who added that if they're havint to work all twelve months of the year and they can't even go on holiday, then they think it's beneath the honour of every person.

The average Croatian household spends more than two thousand kuna a month on food alone. Another 1.2 thousand kuna goes to housing costs and another 1.2 thousand to transportation. That means that for pure and simple survival, it costs 4.5 thousand kuna per month, and the minimum wage in Croatia at the moment is 3750 thousand kuna. That is without the latest price increases. Across the European Union, as trade unionists point out, the poverty indicator is the data on how much is spent on food, as reported by Dnevnik.hr.

"The share of food costs on average across the European Union stands at about 13 percent, in more developed European Union countries, it is below 10, and in Croatia more than it's more than 27 percent without any increase," said Kresimir Sever from the Independent Croatian Trade Union.

Compared to the Netherlands, the minimum wage is almost three times higher: 1,725 ​​euros, which is almost 13 thousand kuna per month. They spend less than 13 percent of their salaries on food, compared to more than 27 percent here in Croatia, and the price of electricity is a little less than 13 euro cents per kilowatt hour, which is even slightly lower than it costs in Croatia.

When asked if they think that the time will come when the minimum wage for Croatian employees stands at 13 thousand kuna, they answered: "I think so. When young people realise that they shouldn't run away but stay here and fight against those who do evil.'' Some naturally jaded Croatian employees have a different opinion: "I don't think so, I don't believe in fairy tales."

While the meat industry is announcing a rise in meat prices of up to 30 percent, the unions are asking the Croatian Government for all measures to help - they should lower VAT on energy, offer higher aid to the poorest among us, and lower excise duties on fuel, with the addition of more price caps. They also pointed out that chain price increases are on their way in the coming months, and the minimum will remain the same until next year.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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