Friday, 2 April 2021

Croatia Only EU Country Outside Euro Area to Report Drop in Hourly Labour Costs

ZAGREB, 2 April, 2021 - Croatia is the only EU member state outside the euro area to have recorded a decrease in hourly labour costs in 2020, a Eurostat report shows.

Last year, hourly labour costs rose by an average of 3.1% in the EU and by 2.9% in the euro area.

Among the non-euro area countries, the highest increases in hourly labour costs expressed in the national currency were observed in Hungary (+7.9%), Bulgaria (+7.8%), the Czech Republic (+7.4%) and Romania (+7.2%). The lowest increases were registered in Sweden (+1.1%) and Denmark (+2.0%). 

Croatia was the only non-euro area country to see a drop in hourly labour costs (-1.0%).

Among the euro area member states, the highest increases in hourly labour costs were reported in Portugal (+8.6%), Lithuania (+7.5%) and Slovakia (7.0%). The lowest increases were observed in Luxembourg (+0.5%), Finland (+0.7%) and the Netherlands (+0.8%). Decreases were registered only in Malta (-4.7%), Cyprus (-2.7%) and Ireland (-2.7%).

Last year, the average hourly labour cost was €28.5 in the EU and €32.3 in the euro area, compared to €27.7 and €31.4 respectively in 2019.

The differences among the countries were huge, with the hourly labour costs in Bulgaria being seven times lower than those in Luxembourg.

The lowest hourly labour costs in the EU were recorded in Bulgaria (€6.5), Romania (€8) and  Hungary (€9.9). They were followed by Lithuania (€10.1), Latvia (€10.5), Croatia (€10.8) and Poland (€11).

Among the euro area countries, the lowest hourly labour costs were registered in Slovakia (€13.4), Estonia (€13.6) and Portugal (€15.3). In Slovenia and Spain these costs were around €20, while in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria they ranged between €30 and €40. The highest hourly labour costs were reported in Denmark (€45.8), Luxembourg (€42.1) and Belgium (€41.4).

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

Friday, 26 March 2021

Grant Agreement Signed For Composting Plant in Metković

ZAGREB, 26 March, 2021 - A HRK 12.5 million EU grant agreement for the construction of a composting plant in the southern town of Metković was signed on Friday by Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić and the director of the local Čistoća waste management company, Tomislav Jakić.

The project, which will be implemented as part of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020, is worth more than HRK 24 million, of which 50% is co-financed by the EU.

Ćorić said that the composting plant would serve Metković as well as Opuzen and neighbouring communities.

The plant's annual capacity is 5,000 tonnes and it guarantees that biodegradable waste in the River Neretva valley will be managed in the best way possible, said the minister.

Dubrovnik-Neretva County head Nikola Dobroslavić said that Metković was the most advanced local government unit in terms of waste management.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Opposition Says Bill on Seeds Harmful

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Opposition deputies, notably those form the Bridge party, said on Wednesday that the bill on seeds and seed materials was harmful and that it would impose new costs, asking that the agriculture minister address the parliament with regard to the bill.

Bridge MP Miro Bulj called on members of the parliamentary majority not to support the bill, describing it as harmful.

"Instead of protecting our own seeds, we are imposing on hundreds of thousands of people who live in rural areas new costs related to seed processing. Who will be able to pay for that?" Bulj asked.

Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić said the bill declared war on small producers.

Social Democrat Domagoj Hajduković, too, criticised the obligation to process seeds to be planted on own fields, saying that it would cause new costs for producers.

The opposition also demanded an answer as to the reason for the introduction of a new category, farm seeds, which, they said, did not exist in the EU.

Other countries are not familiar with that term, said Anka Mrak Taritaš of GLAS.

We are introducing new terms and increasing costs for our farmers even though no one is asking us to do so, said Ružica Vukovac of the Homeland Movement.

The State Secretary at the Agriculture Ministry, Tugomir Majdak, dismissed the criticism, noting that small producers, hobbysts, gardeners and organic farmers would be exempt from the obligation to process seeds.

"The term farm seed is being introduced and that seed will have to be processed by registered suppliers to ensure minimum possible presence of harmful organisms," he told MPs.

Seed and the seed material are strategic products which must be available, safe and of good quality. The bill is aimed at regulating production, trade in and import of farming production materials, he said, noting that the bill does not restrict the use of autochthonous seeds for one's own noncommercial needs.

Specifically, in the case of seed exchange at fairs, production on small farms, seed exchange between individuals and groups, there will be no restrictions, certification or control of such seeds, he said.

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

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Survey Shows Corruption Has Its Origins in System, Not Individuals

ZAGREB, 21 March 2021- A survey on the institutional origins of deep-rooted corruption in Croatia shows that corruption does not have its origins in individuals' conduct but in the set-up of the political, legal, and economic system created in the 1990s.

One of the authors of the study, Dario Čepo of the Zagreb Law School Department of Sociology and member of the GONG nongovernmental organization's council, said while presenting the survey last Monday that its authors focused on legal and political institutions to show that even if the best of persons finds employment in such a system, they cannot be immune to corruption if they want to advance and function within the system.

The study is based on ten in-depth interviews with experts on the corruption of a large portion. It believes that corruption is not so much about bribery and emphasizes gaining influence and power, which Čepo described as an invisible aspect of destructive corruption practices.

"When we asked them about the perception of corruption, they insisted that citizens recognize the existence of corruption but that they slightly exaggerate its presence," he said, noting that it was interesting to hear where such perception of corruption originates from.

Almost all experts mentioned media as an important source of information on corruption practices. Most of them said that citizens do not have direct experience of corruption and that their perception has to do with other sources, so they are not sure if such things happen but are generally mistrustful and attribute anything they do not understand to corruption practices.

An important element in corruption perception is citizens' great expectations from EU entry before Croatia was subjected to a carrot and stick approach. Their disappointment after accession in 2013, when the system of punishment and reward fell apart. This was due to independent institutions established as a condition for integration with the EU, being marginalized or captured by the ruling parties installing their members to lead them.

In their conclusions, the authors of the publication give several proposals for a turnaround, such as the introduction of civic education in schools, to educate young people in the long-term that they are subjects and not objects of the political system, strengthening civil society, and improving the status of independent media.

Čepo concludes that cultural legacy is not the cause but rather a consequence of corruption incited by state institutions such as the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor, the State Judicial Council, and political parties that were established and are run in such a way that a person cannot be but corrupt.

"The neuralgic points identified in the interviews are political parties which at the local and national level encourage the capturing of those institutions and which weaken them, followed by the judiciary, primarily the State Judicial Council which does not penalize weaknesses and encourages the system to continue operating in a corrupt way," says Čepo.

He concluded by saying that the media are the positive actor, uncovering corruption cases and thus keeping the state institutions uneasy and that a large part of the solution to the problem of corruption is a new law on political parties.

Journalist Đurđica Klancir, who conducted the interviews, said that most of the interviewed experts were agreed that the problem started in the early 1990s and that they were frustrated that governments had changed for 30 years without any of them getting to grips with this problem.

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

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Daily Telegraph on Croatian Tourism Minister Opening Country for Tourism

March the 20th, 2021 - Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac has discussed what re-opening Croatia to British tourists could look like, and it could happen in May, the Daily Telegraph reports.

When it comes to extremely important European markets for Croatian tourism, it's difficult to contend with the British market. UK tourists came en masse to Croatia's beautiful Adriatic coast before the coronavirus pandemic threw a proverbial spanner in the works and flights were disrupted and became totally unreliable. Just how can we bring British tourists back to pre-pandemic levels?

The topic was breached by outgoing British Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish and Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac recently, and the pair discussed how a return of British tourism to Croatia can be facilitated amid the ongoing pandemic and the problematic border rules which continue to dominate.

The United Kingdom is currently under a full lockdown which is due to expire in its entirety on the 21st of June, according to PM Boris Johnson. As such, leisure and tourism travel from the UK is currently illegal. Travel is indeed permitted if one lives abroad and can prove it, or has pressing reasons for which they must leave their place of stay which they can also prove. Other than that, a stay at home order is in full force.

Croatian Tourism Minister has said that as soon as the epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom allows for it, or perhaps it is better to say when lockdown rules ease for international travel, British tourists will be absolutely welcomed back into Croatia. Otherwise, the UK has an extremely impressive vaccination rate which exceeded an enormous 25 million (people to have received their first dose) at the time of writing.

Croatian Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac and Andrew Dalgleish initiated the first serious conversation between the two European nations about the return of tourism between both countries, with the hope that border measures, a good vaccination rate and a better epidemiological picture overall, which will be what is key to decision making, will facilitate easier travel.

To read the Daily Telegraph's article, click here.

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Saturday, 6 March 2021

Croatia Has Lowest Share of Women Managers in EU

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - Croatia is at the bottom of the EU ranking of women at management level and women in the EU are still far from being men's equals, according to an Eurostat report.

The COVID-19 pandemic "has led to unprecedented changes in the workplace," Eurostat said, but data on men and women at management level continue to reveal familiar patterns.

"While both women and men bring different qualities to crisis management, women remain outnumbered at the management level," Eurostat said.

"In Q3 2020, more than 9.5 million people held a managerial position in the EU: 6.2 million men and 3.3 million women. Although women represent almost half of all employed persons in the EU (46%), they are under-represented amongst managers (34%)."

In the past 20 years, the share of women in managerial postions "has gradually increased from just below 30% in Q2 2002."

Latvia and Poland on top

Latvia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia have the highest shares of women managers, with Latvia recording the highest share in Q3 2020 (45%), followed by Poland (44%).

Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia and Sweden are next, each with a 42% share.

Above the EU average are Ireland, Romania, Finland, Estonia, Spain, France, Portugal, Slovakia and Lithuania, their shares of women managers ranging from 38 to 35%.

In Denmark and Germany, less than one in three managers were women according to data for Q4 2019. 

"At the opposite end of the scale, women account for only around a quarter of managers in Croatia (24%), the Netherlands (26%) and Cyprus (27%)," Eurostat said.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

3 in 4 Croats Aged 20 to 64 to be in Work Under 2030 Employment Target

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - Croatia's 2030 employment target is to have 75% of adults in work, and currently only two thirds  (66%) of the adult population are employed, the Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The current Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union is organising a summit meeting on social affairs in May, and the EU is supposed to endorse new goals in this sector which should be accomplished until the end of this decade.

One of the goals is that at least 78 of 100 people aged 20 to 64 should be in employment by the end of this decade.

Three of four Croats aged between 20-64 to be employed

It is up to each member state to define its targets, and Zagreb plans to have three fifths people in the 20-64 age cohort in employment until 2030. For this target to be met, the country should create new 200,000 jobs in the coming years.

Currently, only Greece and Italy fare worse than Croatia in this regard, where only three fifths of adults (60%) are employed.

Sweden tops the EU ranking with 82 out of 100 adults being employed, and Germany follows with 80%.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula: Croatia Not interfering In Bosnia's Affairs, Expects Greater EU Involvement

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Croatian member of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, Tonino Picula, on Wednesday dismissed claims that Croatia was interfering in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs, saying that Croatia had obligations under the Dayton peace agreement.

Speaking in an interview with the Dnevnik news website based in the southern Bosnia and Herzegovina city of Mostar, Picula said that Croatia was accused, almost on a daily basis, of interfering in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs. He recalled that Croatia was a signatory to the Dayton agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country and had an obligation to ensure that the agreement was honoured.

"Unfortunately, we often see political structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina using Croatia to achieve their political points and divert attention from their own problems," the Croatian MEP said.  He, however, added that Croatian institutions and officials should exercise restraint in their communications with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In its relationship with the Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia should maintain a positive interest with political restraint, taking care that it promotes what will encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue on its EU path," Picula said.

He said that the EU should be more dedicated to the Western Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "As the foreign policy coordinator of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, I have continually pointed out the need for the Union and its external policy to win recognition in its nearest neighbourhood."

Picula expressed an expectation that Bosnian politicians would agree on changes to electoral legislation that would satisfy both individual and collective rights, which is important for the country's further journey towards EU membership. He stressed that this would include amending the Dayton agreement.

"The existing arrangements under the Dayton agreement are obviously preventing the country's progress, but the international community will not support any solution that deviates from the principle of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single country," the Croatian MEP said.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Croatian Embassy Sarajevo Attacked Again Last Night

January 31, 2021 – The Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo was last night again the target of an aggressive act. The flag of the European Union, which hung above the entrance, was ripped from its mounting and left lying on the ground in the darkened street

The Croatian Embassy Sarajevo was attacked last night. Zagreb-based media Vecernji List learned the news from their sister title in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A wall mounting that jointly held poles carrying both the Croatian flag and the flag of the European Union were the focus of the attack. Someone tried to rip the metal mounting from the wall on the outside of the Croatian Embassy Sarajevo. This is not the first time the Croatian Embassy in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been targeted.

Croatian_embassy_Sarajevo.jpegThe Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo © Miłosz Pieńkowski

It could have been mindless vandalism, drunken idiocy, politically motivated – or even all three. The Croatian Embassy lies in the very heart of Sarajevo. It is situated just north of the river Miljacka and in the same quarter of the city as the building for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other government and municipal buildings, the Sarajevo National Theatre and is just across the park from the embassies of France and Austria. There are several cafes, bars, fast food restaurants and pubs close by. It is a popularly frequented part of the city at night. Unlike Croatia, businesses selling food, alcohol and other drinks are currently open. Sarajevo city centre is alive at night.


The damage caused to the Croatian Embassy was minimal. The wall mounting was damaged but held firm, as did the pole carrying the Croatian flag. The pole carrying the flag of the European Union fared less well – it snapped under the force of the aggression and was completely prized from the mounting. Last night the pole and the flag of the European Union were left lying on the darkened pavement outside the Croatian Embassy, immediately in front of the doorway above which it previously hung.

An investigation is underway and police are searching for the culprits.

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Monday, 16 November 2020

EU Recovery Plan Big Opportunity for Croatia - Conference

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - The EU recovery plan is a big opportunity for Croatia, which has four or five key years to use, European aid from various funds through good projectsfor a relatively quick recovery from the corona crisis and for economic growth and development, a conference heard on Monday.

The videoconference on the EU recovery plan was organised by the European Investment Bank, the European Commission Representation in Croatia and Hanza Media, and its goal is to create a stimulating environment and platform for raising awareness of the opportunities offered by the EU recovery plan, with special focus on financing sustainable and climate-friendly projects.

EU leaders agreed in July on a comprehensive recovery plan for Europe. The Next Generation EU plan was adopted in synergy with the multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2021-2027, and it should repair the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, kick-start European recovery and protect and create new jobs.

Slightly over €12.6 billion from the new MFF and €9.4 billion from the Next Generation EU instrument will be available to Croatia.

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric expects a new investment cycle in Croatia, also thanks to EU assistance, as well as a relatively quick recovery.

European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said that Europe had started to recover in the third quarter of 2020, but then a new wave of the epidemic started.

According to him, EU countries will see an average economic decline of 7.4% this year, and next year they will recover at an average rate of 4.1%.

He added that differences between EU member states were noticeable, and that countries dependent on tourism and hospitality activities were affected more.

So far, the EU has had an adequate response to all challenges caused by the pandemic, Gentiloni said, adding that Croatia will be one of the biggest recipients of EU recovery aid.

Every state is preparing its own plans for reforms and investments, and those national plans must be in accordance with the EU plans. Most of the funding should be used for digital and green projects.

Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Dario Scannapieco, focused on the climate plan in his presentation, saying that by 2050 the green transition will open half a million new jobs in Europe.

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