Thursday, 14 April 2022

Osijek-Baranja County Leads in Using European Funds

April 14, 2022 - MEP Karlo Ressler has visited the city of Osijek, where he was presented with several Osijek-Baranja County projects currently in progress that were financed by European funds.

As writes, after a reception in the Osijek-Baranja County, MEP Ressler was accompanied by the prefect Ivan Anušić to visit the construction site of the Economic Centre, which is also financed by European funds

"Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County do not need additional instructions on how to withdraw money from European funds because they do an excellent job", said MEP Karlo Ressler during his stay in Osijek, adding: "It seems to me that the idea, the perception of a difficult situation as it used to be is no longer associated with the Osijek-Baranja County nor the city of Osijek, and I also think that the new mayor Radić certainly played a big role not only in that but everything that the county has been doing in recent years".

In the company of Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić, MP Ressler visited the construction site of the Osijek Fortress, which is another project financed with European money.

"The city of Osijek is a large construction site, which I explained to MEP Ressler. At the moment, the value of investments in the area of the city of Osijek exceeds one billion kuna, and is largely financed with European money”, said Osijek Mayor Radić and thanked MEP Ressler for showing interest in the city of Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County.

After the reception in the Osijek-Baranja County, accompanied by the prefect Ivan Anušić, MP Ressler visited the construction site of the Economic Centre, which is also financed by European funds.

"We are implementing numerous projects through the funds of the European Union, through a new financial perspective where our office in Brussels, which has a permanent representative of our 5 Slavonian counties, communicates directly with our MEPs, including Mr. Ressler", said the prefect of the Osijek-Baranja County Ivan Anušić. He concluded that the Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek really have something to boast about.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

EP For More Frequent Unannounced Visits Within Schengen Evaluation Mechanism

ZAGREB, 7 April 2022- The European Parliament on Wednesday discussed a report on the Schengen evaluation mechanism and MEPs called for more frequent unannounced inspections and intensified monitoring of whether human rights are respected at the EU's borders.

Migrant crises and a series of terror attacks on EU soil have resulted in differences in the application of the Schengen acquis by the member states, and the Schengen has come across a crisis.

During the debate, it was also said that the coronavirus pandemic had produced an additional burden on the Schengen area and that internal border controls were restored.

Swedish MEP Sara Skyttedal, who is a rapporteur for the Council regulation on the establishment and operation of an evaluation and monitoring mechanism to verify the application of the Schengen acquis, called for more unannounced inspections to deal with suspected international security risks and violations of fundamental human rights.

"Unannounced visits, being one of the most effective tools to verify Member States practices, should take place without prior notification to the Member State concerned," reads the report on this topic.

"Unannounced visits should take place for ‘investigative’ purposes in order to verify compliance with obligations under the Schengen acquis, including, in response to indications as regards the emergence of systemic problems that could potentially negatively impact the functioning of the Schengen area or lead to fundamental rights violations, in particular allegations of serious violations of fundamental rights at the external borders," it is suggested.

The document was adopted on Thursday by 427 votes for, 102 votes against, while 24 MEPs abstained from the vote.

The Schengen area now has a population of 420 million in the 26 member-states.

Croatia has met all the technical requirements for its admission to the passport-free zone.

Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler told Hina that Croatia's joining the Schengen area was in the interest of all Schengen members and the EU.

Asked if there was opposition to plans to admit Croatia to the Schengen area, Ressler said that the visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Zagreb last year was a watershed moment.

Ressler underscored that the whole process is going as planned.


For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Croatian Heartbeat in Brussels: TCN Meets FC Croatia BXL

February 28, 2022 - FC Croatia BXL is the only Croatian football team in the European capital that has already participated in the BXL Euroleague tournament in Brussels for eight years.

Croatian amateur sports clubs are one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatian identity. Today, there are about 200 Croatian football clubs globally, most of which are in countries with sizeable Croatian emigrant communities such as Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Australia. There is not a big Croatian community in Belgium, but it is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic.

Brussels is a lively city that attracts many young talents, being the centre of European institutions. There are also national delegations and the leading European headquarters of the most important international NGOs. With the entry into the European Union, Croatia has also been able to spread its talents and allow many qualified Croatians to start their professional growth here in Brussels. Being surrounded by a favourable environment makes, of course, the difference; that’s why new job opportunities are not enough to be happy.

To settle in, someone must also feel welcomed, find a place where to pursue one’s own interests and passions. And it is precisely from this idea that in 2014 Leon Leskovec (EU Parliament employee) decided to organise a football team that could bring together and welcome Croatian sportspeople. A place where to breathe some homeland spirit. As a result of this call, a weekly meeting point was gradually established, which helped develop friendships and relationships between the participants.


Photo: Archive FC Croatia BXL

We met Diego Antoncic (who works for an Austrian consulting firm) and Oskar Whyte (EU Commission employee), who play a big part in the club.

Tell us a bit more about how you have organised yourselves?

Since 2014 we have regularly participated in the BXL Euroleague with 17 other international teams. FC Croatia BXL is the first Croatian football team in Brussels to participate in this competition. The team consists of about 32 players, of which 70% are Croats (at least of origin), and the remaining are "foreigners" from Bulgaria, Greece and Arab countries, etc. Therefore, we also have our "foreigners”! The age group is between 25 and 35 years old. We train on a weekly basis, and the official matches are held during the weekend at the Stade Chazal, owned by Schaerbeek, one of the Brussels communes. The Schaerbeek commune and all of their employees have been supporting the club for years and providing the necessary football pitch to compete in the league. We are currently in the middle of the rankings, but we hold on and plan to do great things this year: the spirit keeps us motivated!

You don’t have an official coach, but you have created a technical board and consult before each game. Do you get along?

Besides being a team, we are also friends who meet outside the matches, even after work. Those who move here soon start looking for an activity that makes them feel "at home”. Usually, football among us guys is a significant motivational boost. Mladen Mlinaric has been our coach for a long time, but two years ago he went back to Croatia. Since then, we have gotten along well as a team of coaches. A proof of this is that we also organised our first Team Building last year in Bosnia and this year we will do it in Bulgaria to pay homage to one of the "foreigners" in our team. We believe it is a positive gesture and a sign of good integration.


Photo: Archive FC Croatia BXL - First Team Building

And how do you organise when our national team plays?

Since we enjoy and play football ourselves and have a good audience that follows us, we regularly organise watching the matches of our national team at the Stade Chazal. During the Euros and World Cup, the city of Brussels also sets up mega screens in strategic points, such as the Cinquantenaire Park. We usually book a whole side of the lawn under the big screens to enthusiastically support our “Vatreni”, contacting all our followers and spreading the word to be as numerous as possible.

FC Croatia BXL self-finances all expenses (from stadium rental to membership fees). They have only two sponsors: the Mexican restaurant “El Sombrero” in Leuven (the owner is Croatian and their long-time player Adrian) and Access Advisors, a consultancy owned by one of our strikers. The Croatian National Football Federation has twice given them the uniforms to play and as of a few weeks ago, they are expecting a new self-funded delivery. They would also like to play with other "Croatian" teams in Europe or even host teams directly from Croatia. In June, they usually organise a tournament between Croatian teams from neighbouring countries (Holland, Luxembourg, Germany) to celebrate the Croatian national day together. In 2016 they were also candidates for the Večernjakova Domovnica for the sports category.


Photo: Archive FC Croatia BXL

We look forward to seeing how they will organise for next autumn with the World Cup in Qatar. Still, given their overwhelming enthusiasm and excellent organisation, I would advise Croats in Brussels to follow their Facebook page not to miss any opportunity to support and cheer on Croatian sport, starting from the local one.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 18 February 2022

Milanović: Croatia Embarrassed Itself in Brussels Over Reconstruction Money

ZAGREB, 18 Feb 2022 - Croatia embarrassed itself by not spending any of the post-earthquake reconstruction money, so Brussels charitably extended the deadline, but is denying charity to Croats in Bosnia, President Zoran Milanović has said, blaming that on the incompetence of the foreign minister and the premier.

It's not a "total embarrassment," just an "embarrassment, he said on Friday, commenting on the European Commission's decision to extend the deadline until June 2023, to spend the money from the European Solidarity Fund for the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb.

The president said reconstruction took time and that he accepted that not all the money could have been spent because "that's impossible."

Milanović said he had defended the government from attacks for the slow spending of those funds, but added that the government "has practically not absorbed anything" and that he "would have been proud had we utilized 50%."

He said that in Brussels Prime Minister Andrej Plenković "had to buttonhole someone, sponge" and that perhaps they laughed at Croatia and said, "give them this charity."

However, he said, Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina "can't be in a situation to ask for simple moldy charity."

They must not be accused of being a disruptive factor because BiH cannot exist without them, Milanović added.

For months he has been accusing the government of not being successful in Brussels in defending the demands of Croats in BiH for changing the election law in order to stop the Bosniak majority from electing their Presidency member and deputies in the Federation entity's upper house.

As an EU member state, Croatia has its vote and can oppose Brussels' decisions, he said.

Zagreb has not exercised that right to defend Croats in BiH, the president said, pointing the finger at Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman.

Croat representatives will have "my full support," Milanović said, adding that the Croatian government "can" and "must" block elections in BiH unless the election law is changed as demanded by local Croats.

He said it was unacceptable of foreign diplomats to say that the elections would be held regardless.

Criticisms against foreign minister

The president also commented on the failure to appoint Croatia's military envoy to NATO, saying that he was being asked only to sign the appointment, without directly participating in the process.

He said the foreign minister was the reason why he and the prime minister had not decided, even after six months, to relieve of duty all the ambassadors whose four-year terms had expired.

Milanović added that Grlić Radman "will do everything just to be liked by his boss."

He dismissed claims that Croatia does not have ambassadors because he, as the president, was pushing members of the Social Democratic Party as candidates.

For more, check out our politics 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.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Croatian MEP: Russian Troops on Ukraine Border Not Local Issue But Global Threat

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - The buildup of Russian forces along the Russia-Ukraine border is not a local problem but a global security threat, Croatian member of the European Parliament, Tonino Picula, told the BBC on Thursday.

The war with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine is entering its eighth year, and pro-Russian separatists, supported by Russia, carried out secession of the three eastern Ukrainian areas:  Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea, said Picula, a foreign policy coordinator of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

According to a statement issued by Picula's office, the MEP said that Ukrainians deserved to be commended for their rational attitude.

It can seem paradoxical that while Ukraine is facing a dramatic situation, citizens and the state leadership of that country are not inclined to dramatize it. Citizens are definitely worried but they are not panicking, the Croatian MEP says.

He added that even without direct military aggression, Russia has been undermining Ukraine's democratic, social and economic development for years, through the dissemination of misinformation and other means, he added.

Picula said, among other things, that during this crisis many European leaders have an opportunity to show their position on the current security architecture in Europe.

Picula believes that the unity of the West is now of crucial importance.

Commenting on the Russian and the European approach, Picula said that it is much simpler for Russia to speak in unison, as it is President Vladimir Putin who speaks about the matter.

On the other hand, the West is pluralistic, various member-states have different sensibilities and interests. In this crisis it is most important to stick to the joint approach in order to make it impossible for Russia to take advantage of disagreements in a bid to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine, said Picula.

"This crisis is a big stress test for us in the European Union, the biggest one since the wars after the breakup of Yugoslavia," he added calling for the European support to Ukrainians' efforts to defend their freedom and way of life.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Europe Has to Assume Greater Responsibility for Its Security, Croatian FM Says

ZAGREB, 21 Jan 2022 - European countries should assume greater responsibility for their own security through NATO and the EU given that the United States "is increasingly preoccupied with the Indo-Pacific and China," Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday.

"Because of all that as well as the fact that we no longer live in stable post-Cold War times, the EU can no longer rely only on soft security instruments, but must develop capabilities for independent crisis management, including military ones," he said in a Conference on the Future of Europe debate in Pula.

Still, he added, Croatia "clearly sees NATO as the main guarantor of Euro-Atlantic security and its NATO membership as the main protection from possible external aggression."

"We advocate further deepening the partnership with NATO, which remains the cornerstone of our collective defense, and strengthening cooperation with the most important partner, the United States, in a score of topics," said Grlić Radman.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also took part in the debate, saying that strengthening Europe's defense policy is complementary to NATO.

"Can we rely on NATO? For Greece, and we have a real security problem, there is no dilemma. The European defense initiative is of use for NATO and Euro-Atlantic cooperation," he said, adding that those are not two "antagonistic" concepts.

The most prominent advocate of strengthening European defense cooperation and creating a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We must be realistic. If we want the EU as a global actor, we must start at home and in our neighborhood. We need more unity and more solidarity. We must take others' security problems very seriously," Dendias said.

Grlić Radman reiterated Croatia's stand on the need to change Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral law before this year's vote in order to prevent the more numerous Bosniaks from electing Croat representatives in the House of Peoples and the Croat member of the Presidency.

"BiH is at a crossroads. An agreement on changes to the electoral law and restricted constitutional changes would improve the political atmosphere in the country and replace the existing mistrust between the key political parties, with a view to achieving a more stable and more prosperous BiH," he said.

"The absence of an agreement would push Bosnia deeper into a political crisis with fatal consequences," he said, reiterating that Croatia pushes for BiH as one state of three constituent peoples and two entities.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

MEPs Call for Reforms, Opening Archives in Fight With Organized Crime in W. Balkans

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Organised crime is a structural problem in Western Balkan countries but it also affects EU countries, which is why members of the European Parliament are agreed that it is necessary to encourage reforms and open former Yugoslav archives.

Michael Gahler, deputy rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a debate on a committee report on Tuesday that the document calls on Western Balkan governments to step up efforts to implement the necessary reforms, noting that ties between organized crime, politics, and business had existed before the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and continue to exist.

Therefore in the report, we call for opening former Yugoslav archives, notably, those of the former Yugoslav secret service (UDBA) and the military intelligence agency (KOS), said Gahler.

Croatian MEP Željana Zovko (EPP/HDZ) agreed with Gahler's request, noting that "this could help shed light on many deep-rooted criminal organizations that have been operating under the radar for decades."

Andreas Schieder (S&D) stressed that crime was a result of social conditions, poor state, and bad structures. The EU can have an influence on reducing organized crime in the Western Balkans through the process of integration, he said.

The accession process itself is the necessary support for reforms required to fight organized crime in the Balkans. There is no excuse for delaying the accession of North Macedonia and Montenegro which have been in the EU's waiting room for decades even though they courageously implement reforms, he said.

Nicolae Ştefănuță (Renew Europe) underlined the geopolitical importance of the Balkans, noting that it was necessary to fight organized crime there and unblock the process of Western Balkan countries' integration in order to prevent influence from third countries.

Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/European Free Alliance) underlined the importance of supporting independent organizations and reporters in W. Balkan countries.

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula (S&D) stressed the importance of the European Parliament sending "strong messages of support to civil society organizations, investigative reporters and all hard-working and brave people who take risks to make their countries better."

MEP Sunčana Glavak (EPP/HDZ) said organized crime was also a matter of security.

"Organised crime is dangerous for the democratic progress of Western Balkan countries and it is a first-class security issue," she warned, noting that the EU estimates that revenue from criminal activities in the main markets in 2019 accounted for 1% of the EU's GDP or €139 billion.

Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (EPP/HDZ) called for better security and intelligence cooperation and for "taking more account of the countries' results in that regard in the context of enlargement policy priorities."

French MEP Thierry Mariani (Identity and Democracy) said he disagreed with the report. "The report is not about the fight against corruption but about the promotion of an ideological agenda," he said, noting that the report failed to mention the Balkan migration route.

Croatian MEP Ladislav Ilčić (Conservatives/Reformists), too, said illegal migrations "are fuel for organized crime", adding that uncontrolled migration was largely "due to irresponsible statements by European politicians welcoming illegal migrants."

Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić, too, criticized European leaders for welcoming refugees, adding that that had helped create migration routes that were still active, affecting primarily Western Balkan citizens as well as all EU citizens who do not want illegal migrations.

The report was supported with 531 votes for, 48 against, and 117 abstentions.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 15 November 2021

EU Citizens Want to Make Decisions for Themselves in European Parliament

ZAGREB, 15 Nov 2021 - Due to their distrust of politicians, European citizens will ask to participate directly in future decision-making in the European Parliament, a Croatian citizen taking part in an online panel debate on democracy in the EU on Sunday said.

Faced with a drop in citizens' trust, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the EU in September and October invited 800 randomly selected EU citizens to discuss topics important for the 27-member bloc in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

A group of 200 citizens discussing European democracy, rule of law, and security gathered again from Friday to Sunday, but this time at an online panel, to formulate a proposal to be put forward to European institutions early next year.

"We will propose that citizens rather than professional politicians sit in the European Parliament. People elected directly by citizens," said 67-year-old Croatian Vinko Sebešić, who took part in the panel.

EU citizens want a legislative framework for the introduction of direct democracy in the European Parliament and possibly other institutions as well.

"That is necessary due to the public's distrust of politicians. That is the future of democracy," he added.

The 200 citizens will get together again from 10 to 12 December in Florence where they will finetune the existing text and formulate a document to be sent to EU institutions for consideration.

The EP is the only EU institution elected directly by EU citizens, and based on Article 17 of the EU Treaty, it elects the European Commission President and confirms other EC members following a proposal by the European Council.

Trust in that process, however, was undermined also during the election of incumbent EC President Ursula von der Leyen, who was appointed even though the lead candidate of the winning group in European elections, the European People's Party (EPP), was Manfred Weber.

It had been expected that as the EPP's lead candidate, Weber would be nominated for EC President, however, Von der Leyen was eventually nominated in line with an agreement between EU countries' leaders. The subsequent vote by the EP only confirmed the European Council's choice even though many EP members had said that they would insist on the principle that the nominee for EC President should be the lead candidate.

Ultimately, each of those institutions is a result of citizens' choice, either direct or indirect.

European Democracy and Demography Commissioner Dubravka Šuica last month promised that the EC would take into account citizens' proposals when defining its policies after June 2022.

European citizens attending panel discussions in Strasbourg also objected against their treatment by politicians during a plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe, held in the EP in October, claiming that they had been invited to present their proposals but politicians did not hear them out.

EP member Guy Verhofstadt, one of the organizers of the meeting with citizens, said that at the next session in Strasbourg, set for December, there would be more time for politicians to hear citizens out after they formulate their proposals in greater detail.

Šuica and Verhofstadt have said that the Conference on the Future of Europe, a set of discussions involving EU citizens, is a unique project on the global scale, aimed at involving citizens in decision-making processes. It includes a digital platform where citizens and their groups from all EU countries can leave their comments.

Many, however, wonder if this is really about the inclusion of citizens or about "simulating democracy".

"Citizens are rising against the oligarchy that uses representative democracy only as a fig leaf for the real power balance in European societies," says political scientist Anđelko Milardović.

"Demands for introducing direct democracy have been growing louder as a response to the crisis of representative democracy," he said.

Around 70% of EU citizens polled in August said they were not happy with the way the EU currently functions, shows a survey by the Ipsos pollster.

Next weekend, a new online panel will be held, to be attended by another 200 EU citizens who were among those who gathered in Strasbourg in October.

"We, too, will demand to take part in decision-making and follow the process in the future so that Croatian politicians cannot tell us that something is demanded by Brussels and we do not know for sure if that is so and why that is so," said Croatian Dragan Volarević, who will participate in the panel.

Political scientist Milardović believes one way out could be a hybrid model of democracy - a combination of direct, representative democracy and democracy supervised by civil society.

The result would be greater political participation by citizens and control over the political oligarchy now in power, he says.

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

Sunday, 24 October 2021

EC Vice President Admits There Is Gap between Decision-makers and Citizens

ZAGREB, 24 Oct, 2021 - European Commission Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said on Saturday that there was a gap between decision-makers and citizens, and European institutions were thinking of the inclusion of general public on a permanent basis in discussions on EU-related topics.

We have noticed that there is a gap between decisions-makers and and citizens and we want to lessen that gap. It is the reason why we are organising this Conference (on the Future of Europe), Commissioner Šuica told a press conference in the European Parliament on Saturday after a session bringing together EU representatives and ordinary citizens.

The European Parliament on Saturday started a plenary at which 80 EU citizens were presenting conclusions of discussions on different topics held by 800 randomly chosen citizens in September and October.

Technology has changed the world and we must change, too, said Šuica adding that she did not believe that the Conference on the Future of Europe would remain a one-off event.

We are thinking about a permanent mechanism, although we have not yet decided on it definitely, she explained.

The European Commission says on its web site that "the Conference on the Future of Europe is an unprecedented, open and inclusive democratic exercise, with a Multilingual Digital Platform, where all Europeans are invited to have their say on how to shape our shared future on various issues."

The citizens involved in the Strasbourg gathering are expected to prepare a final document and forward it to the European Commission in December.

According to the EC information on its website, Šuica stated that "this is a historic moment where, for the first time, citizens deliberate on a par with their elected representatives at all levels."

"Bringing citizens to the core of European policymaking will reinforce our representative democracies, as we set sail towards our common future."

Guy Verhofstadt, a member of the European Parliament and a co-chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe, was quoted as saying that "the enthusiasm in the Citizens' Panels is great, expectations are high, the formula is working."

"Now the Plenary has to find answers to the issues raised, in the form of a shared vision of Europe's future and concrete deliverables on how we reform the European Union. EU politics have to rise to the occasion."

He also advocates the organisation of conferences of such format every five years.

In August, 70% of the respondents in a survey conducted by the Ipsos pollster in the European Union said they were dissatisfied with the way the EU was working at present.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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