Monday, 14 June 2021

Government Denies Report On One Billion Kunas Less For Croatia from EU

June 14th, 2021 - The government on Monday refuted as untrue the allegations by the Jutarnji List that after the European Commission perused through its National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO), imprecision detected in relations to the costs have resulted in one billion kunas less for Croatia from the EU.

The amount of grants set aside for Croatia under the Recovery and Resilience Facility is €6.3 billion (approximately 47.5 billion), as also carried in the relevant regulation adopted by the European Parliament and the Council establishing a Recovery and Resilience Facility on 18 February. The mentioned amount has never been questioned since the adoption of the said regulation, the government says.

In the same vein, the elaboration of the 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO) was conducted so that the total value of the reforms and investments set out in the plan should not be below the target of HRK 47.5 billion, the government says.

The government's decision on defining the draft national recovery and resilience plan 2021-2026, prepared for the fine-tuning with the European Commission on 29 April, defined the draft in the amount of HRK 48.7 billion, which was above the allocation of HRK 47.5 billion set aside for Croatia.

The subsequent contacts with the European Commission aimed at hammering out the document resulted in the amount of HRK 48.2 billion, which is still above Croatia's allocation defined by the above-mentioned regulation adopted by the EP and the Council, the Plenković cabinet says.

The reduction of sums "is a consequence of hammering out the assessed costs for certain investments, such as adjustment of VAT treatment and adjustment of eligibility of costs."

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, follow our business section.

Monday, 14 June 2021

After Revision Of NPOO, Croatia To Get HRK 1 Bn Less From EU

June 14th, 2021 - The European Commission has revised Croatia's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO), and for now, no items have been deleted. However, imprecision and errors related to the costs shown are being corrected, which has resulted in one billion kunas less for Croatia from the EU.

A brief analysis shows that Croatia set the cost of its recovery and resilience plan at HRK 49 billion to be used for reforms and investments. After the EC went through individual items, the amount was slashed by around HRK 1 billion, the Jutarnji List daily says in its issue of Monday.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan have adjusted to the situation because the EU has made Croatia around €6.3 billion or HRK 47.5 billion as part of its Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The prime minister's advisor on the NPOO and its coordinator, Zvonimir Savić, said the government was satisfied with the evaluation of national recovery and resilience plans so far because even though the total amount had been reduced, "the plan's concept, its thematic units, and reforms have been preserved to a large extent," which, he said, was not the case with some other countries.

Asked what specifically had been reduced or changed, Savić said that none of the envisaged investments was removed from the plan but that there had been technical errors in the costs shown, resulting in the reduction of the total amount for the sub-component for a resilient, green and digital economy, which is particularly interesting to entrepreneurs, by around HRK 500 million.

Croatia originally envisaged around six billion kunas for that purpose, to be obtained through various financial instruments. Still, after the costs were reviewed with EC experts, the cost was set at HRK 5.5 billion.

Savić said that the reduction of funds referred mostly to various financial instruments but that the amount to be made available in the form of grants had, in fact, been increased.

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

Friday, 11 June 2021

Croatia and 4 More Members Ask EC to Extend Time for Assessment of Recovery Plans

ZAGREB, 11 June 2021 - Croatia and another four EU member-states have asked the European Commission to extend a deadline for the assessment of their national recovery and resilience plans, the Commission's spokeswoman Marta Wieczorek said in Brussels on Friday.

The EC has two months to assess these plans that set out the reforms and public investment projects that each Member State plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

The rules envisage that member-states can request a reasonable extension of time for the assessment of national recovery and resilience plans after the documents are submitted, the spokeswoman said.

The extension has been requested by Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Sweden and Romania, Wieczorek said.

The extended time frame is perceived as an opportunity to settle some outstanding issues, she said, declining to specify those outstanding issues that are the cause for the requests from the five members.

The Commission received Croatia's plan on 15 May, and Zagreb "has requested a total of almost €6.4 billion in grants under the RRF", the EC says on its website.

The Croatian plan is structured around five components: green and digital economy, public administration and judiciary, education, science and research, labour market and social protection, healthcare. It also encompasses one initiative on building renovation. The plan includes measures to improve business environment, education, research and development, energy-efficiency in buildings, zero-emission transport and the development of renewable energy sources. Projects in the plan cover the entire lifetime of the RRF until 2026. The plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas, the EC added.

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

Thursday, 3 June 2021

45,000 EU Digital Covid Certificates Issued in Croatia So Far

June 3, 2021 - There have been 45,000 EU digital COVID certificates issued in Croatia so far. 

All Croatian citizens who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have a negative test, or have recovered from COVID-19 in less than six months can get their digital covid-certificates now, reports Dalmacija Danas

Citizens can get certificates in printed or electronic form, proving that they have received one of the vaccines registered in the European Union, through the portal e-Citizens or in one of the branches of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute throughout Croatia, except at five HZZO locations - and in Zagreb where certificates are not issued: Margaretska, Mihanovićeva, Kruge, Ivekovićeva, and Branimirova.

Croatia is the first EU member state to establish a system for issuing EU digital covid certificates. Together with Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland, it has linked up with the EU's accession to verify the authenticity of certificates.

More than 45,000 covid certificates were issued in Croatia yesterday, of which 90 percent are with vaccinations. Of these, only 4,000 certificates were requested and issued in paper form.

“All citizens who have been vaccinated according to the vaccination program adopted by the Croatian Institute of Public Health must be registered in the central register of vaccinated persons, which is the basis for issuing a digital COVID vaccination certificate. If it turns out that one of the vaccinated citizens is not in the register, we ask them to contact the doctor or health institution where the vaccination was performed with a card and a certificate of vaccination to make a subsequent enrollment of citizens in the list of vaccinated persons," said the Ministry of Health.

Namely, the largest number of citizens who have received the vaccine so far are registered in the central register of vaccinated persons and can easily obtain their COVID certificates in a very short time. However, for various reasons, part of the citizens remained unregistered or registered with incomplete or incorrect data, making it impossible to issue certificates promptly.

As of yesterday, citizens also have the opportunity to check for themselves on the Health Portal whether their vaccination data have been recorded correctly. The fastest way to eliminate these problems is to direct citizens to doctors and institutions where the vaccination was performed. Only the doctor who performed the vaccination is authorized to enter data on the vaccinated person or another doctor of the health institution.

Also, some citizens ask for additional information to obtain a COVID-certificate of recovery, so it should be emphasized that it is issued to a person who has suffered from COVID-19 on the 11th day from the date of the first positive PCR test recorded in the system. Such confirmation shall be valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive PCR test recorded in the system. A certificate of illness is not issued based on a rapid antigen test, as established by the proposal for regulating the EU digital covid-certificates.

Under the Decision of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia amending the Decision on temporary prohibition and restriction of border crossings of the Republic of Croatia from 1 June 2021, entry into the Republic of Croatia is also possible for persons unable to exercise digital covid confirmation in the following cases:

- by presenting a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 and receiving a single dose of vaccine within six months of the onset of COVID-19, and vaccination carried out less than 180 days ago,

- by presenting a positive rapid antigen test (listed on the Joint List of EU Member States) confirming that the person has recovered from SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, with the test performed 180 days ago and older than 11 days from the date of arrival at the border crossing or upon presentation of a medical certificate issued by a doctor, determination of self-isolation upon arrival in the Republic of Croatia and for a period of 10 days or until receiving the results of a negative test.

At the European Union level, there are continuous discussions on digital covid-certification, and adjustments are possible in the digital covid-certificate at the EU level, depending on current scientific knowledge and consensus of the profession. Also, like Croatia, each member state can bring additional conditions for entry into its territory that are not covered by the digital covid-certificate, which are then confirmed by presenting appropriate medical documentation when crossing the border.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

EU Digital COVID Certificates in Croatia are LIVE! Here's How to Get One

June 1, 2021 - EU digital COVID certificates in Croatia are LIVE! Here's a look at what you need to do to get one. 

As of today, the EU digital covid certificates in Croatia are live, or what you may know better as the Covid passport. The Croatian government set up a national certification system on Monday, which began operating on Tuesday,  report Jutarnji List

"The Croatian national system for issuing the EU digital COVID certificate is ready for operation on June 1 and the integration procedure with the European gateway has been carried out, which ensured their cross-border interoperability," they announced in a statement yesterday.

A website has also been launched where citizens can get all the necessary information. But the process of issuing a Covid certificate is actually quite simple; you can request it through the e-Citizens system (eGrađani) or at HZZO branches. Regardless of the version, the certificate will contain a QR code with basic information and a digital stamp to ensure the authenticity of the certificate.

How to access the certification system?

You can access the system for issuing EU digital COVID certificates via the website via the link REQUEST A CERTIFICATE at the top of the website (see header photo). You can also access the system directly via the e-Citizens (eGrađani) page by selecting the HEALTH area from the service catalog. In this area, select the EU Digital COVID Certificate e-Service and follow the application steps.

What documents do you need to download the certificate from the e-Citizens (eGrađani) portal?

Apart from level 2 credentials - significant security levels or level 3 credentials - high-security credentials, it is not necessary to provide additional data and documentation to access the e-Citizens (eGrađani) portal. The system retrieves user data from the databases of the Ministry of Health and the confirmation is generated by clicking on the option "Request confirmation".

You can save the confirmation that you download via the portal to your computer, print it out, or send it by e-mail to your e-mail address.

How to apply through e-Citizens (eGrađani)?

In case you decide to get the certificate through the eCitizens system, you must first submit a request by entering your OIB and e-mail address to which the COVID certificate will be delivered in PDF format.

After that, a request will be created for you, and in the e-Citizens system, you can check what its status is, i.e., whether it is still being processed or is ready.

Once you meet the criteria for issuing a certificate, the info will arrive at your e-mail address. 

Can the certificate be used via mobile phone?

You can save the certificate in the form of a PDF file and present it to the person responsible for reading the QR code and other important data. The EU digital COVID certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature for protection against forgery, which is based on the ICAO PKI specifications. When checking the certificate, the QR code is scanned and the digital signature is checked.

How will this help you freely move?

In addition to facilitating the movement of citizens when crossing the border crossings of the Republic of Croatia and border crossings of EU member states with which bilateral agreements will be concluded, this certificate can be used for other purposes in accordance with decisions that could be made in the foreseeable future.

The Government notes that the certificate will be used in accordance with data protection regulations and exclusively for downloading and processing the data contained in the certificate.

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

Monday, 17 May 2021

EU Ministers Push For Creating Equal Opportunities For All in Education

May 17, 2021 - Education ministers of the European Union's member states on Monday called for creating equal opportunities for children in primary and secondary education regardless of their social status, Croatia's Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said. 

The ministers met in Brussels to discuss equity and inclusion in education and training.

There are still differences between member states regarding equal opportunities, which became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fuchs said after attending the ministerial meeting.

The Council of the EU education ministers concluded that the education system is supposed to provide a socially inclusive, equitable, successful, and high-quality education system and training for all.

Despite certain progress in creating equal opportunities in education for all, the data show that in the EU, there is still a high percentage of children with difficulties who drop out of school, and one in five of them fails to finish their education.

Children of non-natives are at a higher risk of dropping out of school than children with native-born parents, 22.2% to 8.9%.

Member states are called to increase the availability of digital tools and resources at all levels of education and training.

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

Sunday, 9 May 2021

EU Kicks Off Year-Long Conference on Future of Europe

May 9, 2021 - The Conference on the Future of Europe, a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future, was officially launched on Sunday on the occasion of Europe Day.

The formal ceremony of the opening of the event was held in Strasbourg.

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the ceremony, European Parliament President David Sassoli, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal, the current chair of the Council of the EU.

About 500 participants, citizens of the EU, and civil society associations activists participated in today's video conference, and the Conference executive board's co-chairpersons answered their questions.

One of those co-chairpersons is the European Commission's Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica.

Multilingual digital platform in 24 languages

The Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, comprising representatives from the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, is launching the multilingual digital platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe, inviting all EU citizens to contribute to shaping their own future and that of Europe as a whole. The platform is available in 24 languages, allowing citizens from across the Union to share and exchange their ideas and views through online events.

All Conference-related events that will be registered on the platform will be visualized on an interactive map, enabling citizens to browse and sign up online.

This Conference is an unprecedented exercise for the EU, Šuica tweeted.

"This has never been tried before, but we are confident that this will strengthen both our Union & our representative democracy. And there is no better date to celebrate that than on #EuropeDay," she added.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

21 Presidents From EU Member-States Forward Europe Day Message

May 8, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović, together with other presidents of the European Union's member-states, forwarded a joint message on the occasion of Europe Day on Saturday.

Extending their best wishes to the Europeans, the 21 presidents from the European Union called on EU citizens to use the Conference on the Future of Europe as the "unique opportunity to shape our common future," reads a press release issued by the Office of Croatian President.

"This Europe Day is special. For the second year in a row, we celebrate it in the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. We sympathize with all those who have suffered because of it," those leaders say.

They underscore the importance of the Conference on the Future of Europe which starts on this year's Europe Day.

"The circumstances surrounding this discussion on the future of Europe are very different from those of previous years. It may seem that there is not sufficient time for an in-depth discussion on the future of Europe in the current situation. On the contrary, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of what is truly important in our lives: our health, our relationship with nature, our relationships with our fellow human beings, mutual solidarity, and working together. It has opened up questions about the way we live our lives. It has shown the strengths of European integration, as well as its weaknesses. We need to talk about all of this," say those leaders.

Challenges are manifold

"The challenges we face as Europeans are manifold: from tackling the climate crisis and the creation of green economies, while concurrently balancing the increasing competition among the global actors, to striving for the digital transformation of our societies. We will need to develop new methods and new solutions. As democracies, our strength lies in engaging the many voices of our societies to identify the best way forward. The more people participate in a broad and open-minded discussion, the better for our Union.

The European project is a project of peace and reconciliation.

"The European project is unprecedented in history. It has been 70 years since the signing of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community and 64 since the birth of the European Community in Rome. At that time, European leaders found ways to unify war-torn Europe. Thirty years ago, Europe’s East and West began to connect more closely. Very different countries joined together to form the European Union. Each country has its own historical experiences and burdens of the past, which it deals with on its own and in its relations with other countries," reads their message.

"The European project is a project of peace and reconciliation. It has been so since its conception and remains so today. We advocate for a common strategic vision for Europe, a Europe that is whole, free, united, and at peace.

Fundamental principles of European integration extremely relevant

"All the fundamental principles of European integration remain extremely relevant today: freedom, equality, respect for human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression, solidarity, democracy and loyalty among the Member States. How can we jointly ensure that these fundamental principles of European integration remain relevant for the future?

"Although the European Union may sometimes seem ill-equipped to face the many challenges that have arisen over the last decade – from the economic and financial crisis to the challenges in working towards a just and equitable EU migration system and the ongoing pandemic – we are aware that it would be much harder for each of us if we were alone.

"How can we best strengthen European cooperation and solidarity and make sure that we emerge from the health crisis in a way that makes us more resilient to future challenges?

"We need a strong and effective European Union, a European Union that will be a global leader in the transition to sustainable, climate neutral, and digitally supported development. We need a European Union we can all identify with, certain in the knowledge that we have done our utmost for the benefit of future generations. Together, we can achieve this.

We need to think about our common future, and therefore, the signatories of this joint message invite European "to join the discussion and help find a way forward together."

For more, follow our politics section.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

University of Split: First in EU to Issue Europass Digital Certificates

May 1st, 2020 - A big step forward for the University of Split, as it is the first in the European Union to issue Europass digital certificates. 

RTL reports, the University of Split has made a step forward at the European Union level in the application of Europass digital credentials, a European tool that enables the digitization of documents in formal and non-formal education. Namely, they became the first institution in Europe to successfully issue as many as 437 digital certificates of participation in January 2021 to participants in the international online conference Week of Innovative Regions in Europe - WIRE 2020, organized by the Faculty of Economics in Split.

"Given the importance of this event, we knew we had to issue certificates to participate and since I was actively participating in the European universities project in parallel, we looked for a testing ground for digitally signed credentials and somehow happily merged with each other," said Maja Ćukušić, Faculty of Economics in Split.

The Dean of the University, Dragan Ljutić, points out that the entire project of the digital European diploma started from them. "In today's time of digitalization, it is clear that we are seriously thinking about it, that is, that we have already started," said Dean Ljutić.

The University of Split, together with the universities of Cadiz, Brittany, Malta, Kiel and Gdansk, has been a member of the alliance called the European University of the Sea (SEA-EU) since October 2019. With the membership in the SEA-EU Alliance, the University of Split has been awarded almost one million euros in grants, which will be invested primarily in the networking of six universities at all levels in the three years of the project. Some of the activities within this project include work on the processes of automatic recognition of qualifications, digitization of qualifications, the introduction of the European Student Card, development of virtual and physical mobility, migration issues, creation of the Center for Socially Beneficial Learning, the connection of research capacities of six universities.

The digital credential has the same legal value as paper certificates, and will allow institutions to issue certificates of qualifications free of charge, such as diplomas and other learning credentials that cannot be illegally altered.

Individuals can store the obtained Europass digital credentials on their Europass profile on the new Europass platform and share it with employers when looking for a job, and employers have a better and more credible insight into the acquired skills and knowledge of potential job candidates.

"I was thrilled by the digital credentials because they are very easy to use and can be downloaded in pdf or image format and as such easily placed on business networks or paired with our Europass CV. I was also delighted that the exact listed competencies were acquired by workshops, and these competencies themselves are in line with internationally standard qualifications of education and as such are recognized throughout the European Union", says a student of the Faculty of Economics in Split Ana-Marija Ivčević.

To read more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 9 April 2021

Preparations Begin for Digital Green Certificates in Croatia

April 9, 2021 - A working group is being set up to develop a technical solution for cross-border interoperable digital green certificates in Croatia.

"Vaccination of employees in the tourism sector begins with the third phase of vaccination. I believe it will be very soon," said the Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac, adding that based on data received so far in the proposed surveys, the number of employees who would enter priority vaccination in the tourism sector is about 68,000, reports HRTurizam.

"Given the nature of the work as well as the significant number of contacts that tourism workers make, it is necessary to vaccinate before the start of the season," said Brnjac.

A working group is being set up to develop a technical solution for cross-border interoperable digital green certificates in line with EU-level talks.

At Thursday's 52nd Government session, the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) proposed a Decision to establish a working group to develop a technical solution for cross-border interoperable digital green certificates.

"We will soon start creating a digital system of certificates of vaccination, testing, and recovery to enable citizens of the Republic of Croatia and the EU free and epidemiologically safe cross-border mobility and residence in our country," said Davor Bozinovic, Minister of the Interior.

Namely, the European Commission coordinates a common European response to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. Following the development of the epidemiological situation and health and medical measures, it is necessary to develop other effective measures to combat COVID-19 and enable free movement in EU member states and third countries or green digital certificates, so-called 'covid passports'.

Therefore, they have recognized the need to ensure freedom of cross-border movement through establishing a system for issuing, verifying, and accepting vaccination, testing, and recovery certificates to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (digital green certificate) that would be interoperable between the EU Member States and third countries.

To this end, on 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented a Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a framework for issuing, verifying, and accepting cross-border interoperable vaccination, testing, and recovery certificates to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic (digital green certificate). 

Croatia has expressed readiness to establish a national system of digital green certificates and their cross-border interoperability through the EU accession plan that the European Commission plans to establish in April, May, and June 2021, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

To establish a technical solution and to develop a national system of digital green certificates, the Ministry of the Interior is tasked with concluding a contract with AKD d.o.o. (Agency for commercial activity production, service, and trade d.o.o.), since AKD was established to perform the tasks of creating personal ID cards, passports, visas, driver's licenses and other solutions in the field of identity and security.

The Decision instructs the Ministry of Health to provide the Working Group referred to in this Decision with all necessary professional support, especially in fulfilling the following tasks: representing Croatia in the operational working groups of the European Commission's eHealth Network, which coordinates implementing the pilot project of the technical solution for digital green certificates; ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, availability, and non-repudiation of machine-readable data on vaccinated, tested and sick persons automatically and in real-time, accessible from data sources owned by the Ministry of Health, which will be the basis for issuing cross-border interoperable digital green certificates.

Recall that according to the new and expanded criteria for the entry of tourists into Croatia, tourists who have either been vaccinated, contracted COVID-19, or have a negative PCR or antigen test from the list of EU tests, can enter Croatia.

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

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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