Monday, 26 July 2021

EU Finance Ministers Give Green Light to Croatia's Recovery and Resilience plan

ZAGREB, 26 July 2021 - EU finance ministers on Monday confirmed the positive assessments of national recovery and resilience plans for another four member states, including Croatia, and initiated written procedure for their approval.

Excellent news for four more member states – Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia. We have confirmed the positive assessments of the national plans of these four countries, Slovenian Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said after an informal meeting of the Finance and Economic Council.

Since no decisions can be made at informal video meetings, written procedure was launched after the meeting to formally approve the national recovery and resilience plans of Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia. The procedure is expected to be completed within the next few days.

On 8 July, the Commission gave the green light to Croatia's national recovery and resilience plan, worth €6.3 billion, and forwarded it to the Council for adoption.

Croatia has been allocated €6.3 billion in grants and 3.6 billion in favourable loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the central element of the Next Generation EU recovery plan. It has been decided that Croatia will for now use only grants and that it may ask for loans at a later date. The €6.3 billion amounts to 11.6 percent of Croatia's 2019 GDP.

After the decision on approval of the recovery plan becomes official, Croatia will sign a financing agreement with the Commission and within two months of its signing it will receive an advance of 13 percent of the allocation, or €819 million. It is not yet known whether this amount will be disbursed in one or more tranches.

About ten days ago, EU finance ministers approved the initial batch of 12 national recovery and resilience plans (for Portugal, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovakia, Latvia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and France), which means that a total of 16 national plans will have been approved before the summer recess in August.

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

Monday, 19 July 2021

EU Seeks 25% Higher Heating Gas Prices for Croatia - Jutarnji List

ZAGREB, 19 July 2021 - Croatians who use natural gas for heating will be paying 25 percent more for their gas bills by 2026 at the latest, by which time a fee for greenhouse gas emissions would also be put in place, Jutarnji List newspaper said on Monday.

This scenario is included in the recently published European Commission's energy strategy Fit for 55, which aims to phase out the use of fossil fuels in transport and industry, as well as in the building sector which is one of the biggest CO2 emitters and polluters, the newspaper said.

The European Union plans to do away with gas heating by 2050 and the Commission's proposal is going in that direction and is expected to enter into force in 2026, Professor Neven Duić of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture was quoted as saying.

"Big consumers, such as electricity producers, are already required to buy CO2 emission rights. This means that small consumers who use electricity for heating are already paying the CO2 emission fee and are being discriminated against compared to consumers who are not paying this fee because they use natural gas," Duić said.

The Commission's calculation about the need to increase natural gas prices by 25 percent for Croatian consumers who use natural gas for heating is included in the proposal to amend the rules on emissions trading. The proposal is part of the Fit for 55 strategies, according to which Croatians currently pay 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for gas heating and will be paying nearly 9 cents once the CO2 emissions fee is in place, Jutarnji List said. 

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

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Croatia to Receive €1.4 bn From New EU Climate Action Social Fund

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed the establishment of a new climate action social fund to help citizens to finance financial investments in energy efficiency, new heating, and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility, and up to €1.4 billion is proposed for Croatia for the period 2025-2032.

On Wednesday, the European Commission unveiled a major package of legislative proposals that should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The "Fit for 55" package is a key element of the European Green Deal, which envisions the EU becoming climate neutral by 2050. In order to achieve that goal, it is estimated that by 2030 the greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced by at least 55% compared to 1990.

"While in the medium- to long-term, the benefits of EU climate policies clearly outweigh the costs of this transition, climate policies risk putting extra pressure on vulnerable households, micro-enterprises, and transport users in the short run," the EC wrote on its website, among other things.

"A new Social Climate Fund is proposed to provide dedicated funding to the Member States to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, new heating, and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility. The Social Climate Fund would be financed by the EU budget, using an amount equivalent to 25% of the expected revenues of emissions trading for building and road transport fuels. It will provide €72.2 billion of funding to the Member States, for the period 2025-2032, based on a targeted amendment to the multiannual financial framework," the EC said.

The Commission proposes a key for the distribution of the funds among member states which would take into account the percentage of the rural population and the level of energy poverty. Financing will be available to all member states, but the largest share will go to the countries with higher levels of energy poverty.

Croatia should get up to €1.4 billion, which is 1.4% of the total amount of the fund.

The highest amount, of €12.7 billion or 17.61% of the fund, has been earmarked for Poland.

In order to withdraw money from the fund, member states will have to draw up precise plans with measures to help the vulnerable population to invest in the energy renovation of buildings and to encourage the use of electric cars.

Half of the amount set in the plan would be financed from the European climate action social fund, and the other half would be co-financed by the member states.

Under the new plan that proposes Effort Sharing Regulation for member-states, Croatia is expected to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 16.7% in the sector of buildings, road and domestic maritime transport, agriculture, waste, and small industries s in 2030 in relation to its 2005 levels.

Member-states share responsibility for removing carbon from the atmosphere

The Commission says that "The Member States also share responsibility for removing carbon from the atmosphere, so the Regulation on Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture sets an overall EU target for carbon removals by natural sinks, equivalent to 310 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030."

National targets will require the Member States to care for and expand their carbon sinks to meet this target. By 2035, the EU should aim to reach climate neutrality in the land use, forestry, and agriculture sectors, including also agricultural non-CO2 emissions, such as those from fertilizer use and livestock.

Under this regulation, Croatia's contribution is to remove 5,527 kilotonnes of CO2.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Women Work One Month For Free, Says MEP Glavak

ZAGREB, 14 July, 2021 - Women work one month for free due to lower wages and their total income, and consequently their pension, is lower because they care for children and the elderly, Croatian MEP Sunčana Glavak (EPP) said on Wednesday.

She was speaking at an event at Plitvice Lakes which discussed how to strengthen the position of women in Croatia and Europe, held as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Glavak said a division into men's and women's departments was not felt in the EP because the persons there were competent, but added that a balance had not been achieved anywhere in Europe.

She called on citizens to engage in a debate on that and other European topics via the Commission's platform “futureu.europa.eu.”

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said four women ministers in Croatia's 18 government departments was not enough, but added that they "run important departments and make a big contribution to this government."

He boasted that Croatian women hold high positions in European institutions - Dubravka Šuica is a Commission vice president, Marija Pejčinović Burić the Council of Europe secretary-general, Ivana Maletić a judge at the European Court of Auditors, and Maja Markovčić Kostelac the head of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

"As a government, we will continue to make an effort towards empowering and protecting women, towards equality and women's participation at a higher level and a high representation percentage," he said.

Present at the Plitvice conference were Tourism and Sport Minister Nikolina Brnjac, Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak and Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, while Šuica and EPP Women President Doris Pack participated virtually.

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

 

 

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Europe Direct Rijeka Information Centre Opens

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 - The Europe Direct Rijeka information centre which will provide information about opportunities and advantages available to citizens in European Union member states, was officially opened on Tuesday in the premises of the Porin - Rijeka Development Agency (RRA).

Europe Direct Rijeka will be a direct link between citizens and EU institutions, or rather, an extended arm of the European Commission (EC) and it will provide support through a direct flow of information regarding opportunities and advantages that are available to EU citizens, and that means local residents in Rijeka and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.

The centre aims at bringing Europe closer to the people in the field through various activities and to motivate the people to get involved in the debate on the future of the EU. The activities will include visits to schools, presentations, panel discussions about the EU and publishing various official publications.

 The centre also plans a partnership with local media outlets, cooperation with other EU networks, raising awareness about sensitive issues for the EU, and the like.

The project was approved by the European Commission - Europe Direct for the period 2021 - 2025.

The centre began operating on 1 May as part of the Europe Direct network in Croatia and the New Generation Europe Direct information centres in the EU, and are managed by the EC.

All of the centre's services will be free of charge for all citizens but it is not intended to interpret or provide legal advice on EU legislation.

The head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, Ognian Zlatev, said that the Rijeka centre has increased the European network of centres which comprise more than 420 such centres and it will bring EU citizens closer, inform them and enable them to make their own assessments.

He underscored that the network is important so that citizens throughout the EU can experience the EU in their own cities and counties. We want to hear citizens' opinions about the EU. How they see the future and to be better informed of its policies and initiatives, said Zlatev.

Croatia has shown that it can be a leader in certain segments, he said and concluded that the objective is a common one - a clean and more beautiful Croatia and Europe for future generations.

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

Friday, 9 July 2021

REPLACE Project Presented at JOINT SECAP Workshop in Rijeka

July 9, 2021 - The REPLACE Project was presented at the JOINT SECAP workshop in Rijeka on June 23. There is no better way to end a year and a half-long Interreg project for Croatia, which was one more ecosystem-concerned cooperation between Italy and Croatia.

When it comes to energy efficiency in Croatia, there is no doubt anybody cares about it more than the scientific community working and associating with Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP).

Not only is the EIHP building on its way to becoming the first nearly zero energy building in the whole of the country, but EIHP's expertise also plays a big role in REPLACE Project from Horizon Europe. As TCN previously covered, the project aims to make Primorje Gorski Kotar County energy-renewable territory, and the ongoing meetings about the project (in collaboration with the University of Rijeka) see slow but steady progress in those respects.

As EIHP reports on its website, June 23 saw REPLACE Project presented in the congress hall of Rijeka's Jadran Hotel as part of the final workshop of the JOINT SECAP project.

„On behalf of EIHP, Antonia Tomas Stanković presented REPLACE in the second half of the event. The goal is to support European energetic, climate, environmental, economic, and social goals by 2030 and 2050 by encouraging the gradual replacement of inefficient and outdated cooling and heating systems with new, energy-efficient systems based on renewable energy sources“, informed EIHP.

JOINT SECAP, part of Interreg Italy-Croatia strategic program (much like the CASCADE Project TCN previously wrote about) aims to improve the climate change monitoring and planning of adaptation measures tackling specific effects in the cooperation area.

„The project idea reflects the necessity to operate at a wider district level and better define strategies and actions for climate change adaptation, especially for those weather and climate changes and hydrogeological risks affecting coastal areas. The first phase is developed to build the common methodology for Joint Actions definition and implementation and to share the basic knowledge about issues concerning climate change adaptation strategies and energy efficiency measures. The second phase starts upon the analysis uploaded in the web platform, acting as a useful tool for the development of scenarios for the Joint Actions to be implemented in the Joint SECAP plans, those last constituting the main project deliverable“, explained JOINT SECAP on its website. The workshop in Rijeka was the conclusion of the project as JOINT SECAP ended on June 30 after it began on January 1, 2012, with a budget of € 2,094,857.

The workshop in Rijeka, writes the EIHP website, was organized by Primorje Gorski Kotar County Office for Regional Development Infrastructure and Project Management and by Kvarner Regional Energetic Agency. Representatives of local authorities of Primorsko-Goranska county that were enrolled in creating an Energetic and Climate Sustainable Development Action Plan. These local authorities include towns such as Opatija and Kastav and the districts of Čavle, Matulji, and Viškovo.

„Joint SECAP analyzed energy spending for the included towns and districts, their risks and vulnerability regarding climate change, yearly emissions of CO2 in sectors of building construction industry, public lighting, and traffic. Concrete measures with the goal of adjusting to the effects of climate change and CO2 emissions down to at least 55% by 2030 were suggested“, stated EIHP.

With measures identified, the race with time begins as these measures should be in place as fast as possible to tackle one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing, and Croatia isn't able to be isolated from the threat.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

President Zoran Milanović Receives Head of Esimit Europa Project

ZAGREB, 6 July, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday received Igor Simčić, head of the Esimit Europa project, which has been promoting for 26 years the European idea of unity by connecting sports, diplomacy, business and culture, the President's Office said in a press release.

The project has gained global recognition thanks to the many successes of the Esimit Europa 2 sailing yacht, which took part in competitions under the European flag and with an international European crew, spreading the message about the successes of the united Europe.

Simčić acquainted the President with the previous activities and successes as well as with the plan to develop a new yacht, Esimit Europa 3, to serve as an ambassador of peace with the support of the United Nations.

Milanović joined other European leaders in supporting the Esimit Europa project.

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

Monday, 5 July 2021

EU Climate Pact Presented: Mediterranean Still Under Greatest Threat From Plastics

July 5th, 2021 - At a presentation of the European Climate Pact, a new European Commission initiative, experts warned earlier this week that the Mediterranean Sea was still the area in the world under the greatest threat from plastic waste and that the enormous consumption of bottled water was an increasing problem.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, 55% of the world's plastic waste is accumulated in the Mediterranean Sea. With poor waste management and mass tourism without adequate infrastructure, high consumption of plastic packaging, especially bottled water, is an increasing problem.

The Mediterranean is the region in the world under the greatest threat from plastic waste. We are literally suffocating in plastics. In Croatia, huge quantities of bottled water are bought. Don't buy water in plastic packaging. Croatia is a country rich in water sources, said Nataša Kalauz of WWF Adria at the online presentation of the European Climate Pact in Zagreb.

The European Climate Pact is an initiative launched by the European Commission in 27 EU member states to raise awareness of the problem of climate change and encourage joint action. WWF Adria is the project coordinator for Croatia and Slovenia.

Julije Domac, the Croatian president's special advisor on energy and climate and European Climate Pact ambassador, said that "unless the future is green, we wouldn't have it."

He also said that Croatia, as a country rich in renewable resources, could recognize an opportunity in that, not only for the production of energy for its own needs but also for export.

Perhaps a fifth of energy production comes from renewable resources globally, and in about twenty years, it should reach four-fifths. That is an opportunity for Croatia, said Domac.

The director of the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development, Mirjana Matešić, cited the unsustainability of the current tourism model as one of the major problems Croatia is facing at the moment, referring to the devastation and degradation of space for tourism as well as corruption in spatial planning in mass tourism.

Dunja Mazzocco Drvar, head of the Directorate for Climate Activities at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, said that on 2 June, the Ministry adopted a new low-carbon strategy.

We are waiting for new European laws announced for mid-July, so in about two weeks, we will have new laws that will reflect the latest European ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, said Mazzocco Drvar.

The results of a study recently conducted among young people in the EU were also mentioned at the panel discussion, and they show that even though 78% of young people are concerned about climate change, most of them, 90%, are not ready to give up various amenities to reduce their harmful impact on the environment.

Mazzocco Drvar stressed that all citizens had to be educated about sustainable living and energy use.

The CountUsIn platform (https://www.count-us-in.org/en-gb/) was also presented, and citizens can use it to choose a way to reduce their harmful impact on the environment or to have a positive effect on the climate crisis.

The online panel discussion was the first event within the European Climate Pact project, and WWF has announced that new panels, forums, and other forms of education and interaction with citizens will take place soon to raise awareness of the climate change problem and support citizens in their attempts to contribute to positive change.

For more follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 25 June 2021

SDA, Džaferović, Komšić: Croatia Defeated In EP Regarding Ethnic Divisions

June 25th, 2021 -  The leading Bosniak party, SDA, and two members of the Bosnian Presidency, Šefik Džaferović and Željko Komšić, said on Thursday that Croatia and the concept of ethnic divisions were defeated in the EP with the rejection of an amendment on constituent peoples to a Bosnia and Herzegovina progress report.

At a plenary on Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a report on BiH, rejecting amendments by Croatian MEPs on the rights of constituent peoples, which the European People's Party supported but not the Liberals, the Left, and the Greens.

"The rejection of the amendment by the parliamentarians from Croatia and ultra-right European parties, which asked of BiH to additionally deepen discrimination in the election process... is a clear message as to which direction future reforms of the Constitution and electoral legislation in BiH should take," the SDA said in a press release.

Komšić called the result of the vote in Brussels a clear message to Zagreb.

"That was as expected given the fact that the allegedly legitimate representation of the constituent peoples has no basis in European Court of Human Rights rulings. That's a message Zagreb should take note of well because it's clear now that the ethnic concept they are forcing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not acceptable to the EU," he said.

Džaferović said Croatia's idea to introduce "the rhetoric of ethnic divisions" in the EP resolution was rejected.

"After NATO's refusal at the past summit to include similar formulations in its declaration, this is the second important message after which Zagreb should... start changing its policy on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Any attempt by Zagreb to impose solutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina will fail and an unnecessary decline of Croatia's reputation," he said.

Džaferović said BiH should reform its Constitution and electoral legislation based on ECHR rulings and European Commission recommendations to eliminate discrimination and ensure equality for all its citizens across the country.

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

Friday, 25 June 2021

European Parliament Adopts Kolakušić Report On Better Law Making

June 25th, 2021 - The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a report by Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić, which underlines that it is necessary to oversee better the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the adoption of EU policies and to introduce the EP's right to legislative initiative.

Presenting the "European Union regulatory fitness and subsidiarity and proportionality report on Better Law-Making covering the years 2017, 2018 and 2019," Kolakušić said the expansion of EU powers harmed the EU's democracy and functioning, and that it was necessary to protect better member states' possibility to make decisions and act without European institutions interfering whenever possible.

620 votes adopted the report in favor, 20 against, and 51 abstentions.

The EP stresses that acting at the EU level must be justified concerning possibilities available at a national, regional, or local level while respecting retroactive assessment, impact assessment, and consultation with stakeholders.

MEPs call for reviewing the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and introducing the EP's right to legislative initiative, given that it directly represents European citizens.

Kolakušić said the report contained an important call on MEPs, all member states, and EU citizens that the EU must change and that the power to move bills must be given to citizens and their representatives in the EP.

The resolution presents solutions to the weakened regulation of compliance with subsidiarity and proportionality principles.

MEPs push for better participation by national parliaments in legislative procedures at the EU level.

The EP calls for more open access to the drafting of legislative texts and enabling the independent moving of bills.

To have better regulations, it is essential that the European Parliament, Council, and Commission be included in more structured cooperation to assess the application and effectiveness of EU law to improve legislation, the resolution says.

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

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