Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ambassador: BiH Media Invent Allegations on Croatia Pushing for Polls' Postponement

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolić on Friday denied allegations by some local media outlets about Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković having lobbied during the European Council's meeting for the deferment of Bosnia's general elections.

The allegations that Plenković advocated the postponement of the elections, which are expected to be held in October, and that the European Council dismissed that possibility were first presented by the Klix news portal, and after that some other local media outlets disseminated them.

Bosnian presidency member Željko Komšić immediately joined the comments that this failed attempt by Croatia's officials to defer the polls is an important and clear message to Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities.

This prompted Ambassador Sabolić to issue a statement in which he denied the invented allegations.

The story about the refusal of the alleged Croatian proposal is made up with the obvious aim of downplaying the recognised and well-accepted constructive efforts of PM Plenković and the Croatian government to speed up a political agreement on the limited constitutional reform and the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the diplomat.

Sabolić recalled the Strategic Compass, adopted by the EU, fully recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional architecture and that at Croatia's initiative, the EU reiterated its readiness to make additional engagement in a bid to help local politician to reach agreement on Bosnia's new electoral law.

The European Council, which held a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, also discussed "the prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina," read the Council's conclusions.

The European Union, which "reiterates its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans," calls on leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina "to demonstrate a strong commitment to finalise swiftly the constitutional and electoral reform, vital for stability and full functionality of the country, as well as to support all other priority reforms set out in the Commission’s Opinion to obtain a candidate status."

"The European Union stands ready to continue its high-level engagement in this regard," the European Council says in its conclusions.

As for the Strategic Compass, the document reads that it is "of particular interest to support the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all citizens and constituent peoples as enshrined in the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution."

For more, check out our politics section.


Saturday, 26 March 2022

EU Leaders Task EC to Propose Solution for Addressing Electricity Price Hikes

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - The heads of state or government of the European Union's member states, who on Friday concluded their two-day summit meeting in Brussels, tasked the European Commission to propose an efficient solution to electricity price hikes.

The European Council calls on the European Commission "to submit proposals that effectively address the problem of excessive electricity prices while preserving the integrity of the Single Market, maintaining incentives for the green transition, preserving the security of supply and avoiding disproportionate budgetary costs," according to the Council's conclusions.

The Council of the EU and the European Commission are called upon "to reach out to the energy stakeholders, and to discuss, if and how, the short-term options as presented by the Commission (direct support to consumers through vouchers, tax rebates or through an "aggregator model/single buyer", State aid, taxation (excises and VAT), price caps, regulatory measures such as contracts for differences) would contribute to reducing the gas price and addressing its contagion effect on electricity markets, taking into account national circumstances."

After the discussion on the excessive energy prices, which took several hours, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that it was difficult to find a single solution which would suit all the member-states, having in mind that some of them are highly dependent on Russian Russian gas, oil and coal imports.

The EU has three goals: to ensure new supply routes for gas, complete and improve the gas and electricity interconnections throughout the Union, and provide direct support to consumers, he added.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Croatia Mulling Increase in Capacity of Krk LNG Terminal

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatia is considering the possibility of increasing the capacity of its LNG terminal on the island of Krk from the current 2.6 billion cubic metres of gas to 2.9 billion cubic metres annually, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday.

He explained that the current infrastructure allows for this increase.

"We believe that we can achieve this increase with the current infrastructure of our LNG ship and all the existing plants there," Plenković said after the end of the two-day summit meeting of the European Union, which discussed Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, energy and energy price hikes.

Plenković reiterated the strategic importance of the Krk LNG terminal for the diversification of gas supply routes, particularly in the current crisis.

Considering the EU-US partnership expressed in the Joint Statement on the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports from the US, which expect to rise, Plenković said that investments in LNG terminals and the accompanying infrastructure would definitely grow, adding that it remains to be seen how many ships are available.

Ukrainian refugees

Plenković told the press that Croatia had already taken in 10,000 refugees from Ukraine, who fled the Russian invasion of their country.

It is certain that more and more refugees will arrive and that they will stay longer, he said.

Croatia can cover the costs of accommodation of Ukrainian refugees on its own until a joint model for financing is not found at the EU level, the premier said.

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Croatia Expects to Sign Co-Financing Agreement With EC in Summer

ZAGREB, 19 March 2022 - The Croatian government hopes that the European Commission will approve its operational programmes in June or July, after which all interested parties in Croatia will be able to apply for co-financing of their projects with money from EU funds in the period from 2021 to 2027.

"These are the shortest deadlines. We are going in that direction. However, the European Commission will have the final say," said Croatian Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak, who had participated in the 8th Cohesion Forum in Brussels on Thursday.

With its cohesion policy, the European Commission is trying to reduce inequalities between parts of the European Union, and has set aside €14.4 billion for Croatia, Tramišak told Croatian reporters.

A European Commission source has told Hina that it is more likely that Croatia's operational programmes will be approved in September. It will be a document including Croatia's co-financing priorities for the coming period.

All EU member states need to submit such documents to the Commission and only after these have been approved can they draw money. The Commission has so far signed such a document only with Greece, in July 2021. Croatia sent in its first draft in June 2021 and it has been sent back for improvement.

"We have submitted our operational programmes twice already. The programming cycle is such that we are in ongoing negotiations, talks and improvements. This is the case with Croatia and all other countries," Tramišak said.

"We expect to have draft documents ready by the end of March and then try to finalise negotiations in early April. Our interest is to programme them as soon as possible and to have quality documents," the minister said.

Tramišak met with Commissioner for Cohesion Policy Elisa Ferreira earlier this month.

Germany is expected to sign its agreement with the European Commission in April, after which agreements with Austria and Lithuania are expected to be signed.

Once Croatia wraps up its negotiations with the Commission and is given the green light, a deadline of two to three months begins before final approval of the programmes. Croatia hopes that this could happen in July, while the Commission thinks it will be in September. After that, Croatia will invite applications for projects eligible for EU co-financing.

"We are not waiting for the completion, but are already preparing other acts and strategic documents at the national, regional and local levels so that we can invite applications as soon the programmes are approved," Tramišak said.

The Commission will contribute 85% of funding for projects and member states the remaining 15%. To qualify for co-financing, projects will have to meet one of the five goals set in EU regulations, namely "a smarter Europe", "a greener Europe", "a more connected Europe", "a more social and inclusive Europe" and "a Europe closer to citizens".

In the previous period 2014-2020, the largest project implemented in Croatia was the construction of Pelješac Bridge, worth a total of €418 million. In the present period,the bulk of funding might go towards the modernisation of railways.

Speaking at the Cohesion Forum on Thursday, Tramišak said that Croatia wanted to use the funding for the development of its poorest areas from which people are emigrating in search of work.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Šuica: EU, Conference on Future of Europe Incomplete Without Western Balkans

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Western Balkan citizens have been participating in the Conference on the Future of Europe on Friday and Saturday, and European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica said on Saturday that neither Europe nor the Conference could be complete without them.

The Executive Board of the Conference decided that during the Conference member states should work with Western Balkan countries, whose citizens could leave their proposals on a digital platform. Also, six Western Balkan countries were invited to participate in plenaries.

This was done, Šuica told Hina, because "Europe is not complete without the Western Balkans."

North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina responded to the invitation, she said, adding that their contribution is important, although less than that of the other countries "since their citizens could not participate in panels."

EU with Ukraine

Ukrainian citizens took part in a plenary in Strasbourg whereby, Šuica said, the EU wanted to send a strong message to Ukraine.

"The set of sanctions we adopted is unprecedented. Today there will be a fourth set, which means that the EU is doing everything within our remit and possibilities."

However, this is not just the about the EU because cooperation with the US, Japan, Canada and Australia is also important, Šuica said, adding that the EU and those partners are "aligning sanctions for Russia, which is the aggressor in Ukraine."

"We are also sending a message of solidarity and we are sure that Ukraine is part of the European Union, but reforms can't take place during a war. It would be illusory at this moment to say that they will become a member state, but we are sure that they belong to this part of the world, we are sure that they share our values."

Šuica went on to say that the Conference on the Future of Europe would end on 9 May, after which the proposals that have been made will be incorporated into clusters and submitted to the relevant institutions.

She said this was the first time that the Commission, the Council and the Parliament "are working together on such a big project with which we want to change the functioning of the EU for the better."

She said the Conference would continue in some form and that her proposal was to leave at least the digital platform as a permanent instrument.

For more on politics, visit TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Plenković: Aggression on Ukraine Resembles of What Happened to Croatia in 1991

ZAGREB, 25 Feb 2022 - Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine represents the violation of all principles of international law and bears a resemblance of the aggression on Croatia in 1991, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday.

"Aggression of this type against Ukraine represents a denial of all values on which the international order is based, and is violation of all the principles of international law," Plenković said.

 He described Russia's aggression on Ukraine as brutal.

Commenting on the Ukrainian President's appeal, Plenković said that the situation resembled what happened to Croatia in 1991.

It is very similar, however, this invasion is of a much larger scale, said the Croatian PM.

This is a clash between democratic systems and the systems that do not change the authorities very often, he said.

Sanctions imposed on Russia without impact on Croatia

The leaders of the European Union on Thursday reached agreement on new sanctions on the Russian financial, energy and transport sectors.

Russian banks Sberbank and VTB  hold an interest in the Croatian Fortenova retail and food group, and Plenković said that he did not believe that this kind of the sanctions against the Russian banking system would produce a large impact on the ownership of Fortenova.

In general, Plenković does not think that Croatia's economy would suffer from big consequences of the sanctions on Russia.

There are discussions on cutting Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system as part of their sanctions against Moscow for invading Ukraine.

We are ready for the sanctions concerning SWIFT, just as most of the EU members are ready, Plenković said in Brussels.

However, media outlets speculate that Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Hungary oppose such sanction.

Concerning the restriction on the delivery of Russian gas supplies, Plenković said efforts were being made to procure gas supplies from Norway, Azerbaijan and Libya and to procure liquefied gas.

In the long run, a new network of gas supplies provision is being created, he said.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Croatian PM Could Run For Presidency of European People's Party, Says VL

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković could run for the leader of the European People's Party (EPP) this spring when this political group is supposed to elect new presidency, the Zagreb-based Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The daily newspaper recalls that last week, PM Andrej Plenković received his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and that their meeting in Zagreb was actually a meeting of the only two current premiers from the EPP group. After the departure of Angela Merkel from the position of German Chancellor and the resignation of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz following accusations about his involvement into alleged corruption cases, Plenković is the only EPP official who is currently serving the second term of his premiership.

The current EPP president Donald Tusk seems not willing to vie for his reelection and the EPP's election convention is likely to be held this spring, according to the daily newspaper.

The daily says that three possible candidates are German MEP Manfred Weber, and the Croatian and the Greek premiers.

However, a source from the government has told the newspaper that Plenković is not thinking at all of competing in that race.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Young People Warn They Have Ideas, But Face Obstacles

ZAGREB, 15 Feb 2022 - The European Year of Youth, which is being marked in 2022 under the title "Young people - the drivers of modern industries", is an opportunity to popularise modern technologies in Croatia, as well as the contribution of young people as drivers of development, it was said at a conference in Novska.

Video game production is currently the fastest growing industry in the world, and the conference, organised by the Central State Office for Demography and Youth, was held at the PISMO Business Incubator in Novska, Croatia's leading gaming industry institution.

Presenting their work, young innovators and gamers also spoke of the problems they are faced with when trying to realise their ideas, such as the lack of funds for the creation of prototypes of their inventions and then financing the production.

The conference also discussed secondary school programmes for video game technicians, which are being implemented at the Technical School Sisak and the Secondary School Novska. The four-year programme enables students to work as designers of graphic elements or as programmers, but they can also pursue higher education.

The State Secretary at the Central State Office for Demography and Youth, Željka Josić, said that Novska was the first to turn to new technology and new industry and thus attracted many young people, adding that Novska was a positive example of what young people can do.

The State Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education, Tomislav Paljak, said that with the new experimental programme for video game technicians, the Ministry gave support to the modern industry.

Novska Mayor Marin Piletić said that the conference should additionally highlight the role of young people in the digital transformation of the Croatian economy. That way, Novska has started an interesting story for the development of the city, the county and Croatia, he said.

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.


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.


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

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