Friday, 6 May 2022

Europe Day 2022: A Weekend Full Of Activities Across Europe

06 May 2022 - Europe Day 2022 celebrates unity in Europe and the official date, the 9th of May, marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration.

The 9th of May is Europe Day, and it commemorates the first move towards the creation of what has today become the European Union. This celebration recalls the importance of the role played by Robert Schuman in the start of the Coal and Steel Community and the integration process that this has triggered. 

In his historic speech, made on 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman proposed the establishment of a new form of cooperation between the countries of a European continent ravaged by the disastrous effects of two world wars.

In these challenging times, it is crucial to reappraise Schuman's life in order to take inspiration from the vision, values, and experiences of a man who sought to bring together all people of Europe under two fundamental principles: peace and solidarity. 

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Image: @European Commission/ Twitter account

This celebration also provides an opportunity to reflect on the current and real situation, which changes daily. It is a day when people can acknowledge the achievements in their everyday lives, in a European Union based on rule of law principles, popular sovereignty, and values that are now accepted and shared by the vast majority of European people. The meaning of the celebration lies in its commemoration of the path that allowed to consolidate these principles and values without taking for granted every achievement.

In honour of the pioneering work of Robert Schuman toward a united Europe, the area housing the headquarters of several European Union institutions in Brussels is named after him.

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The Fabric of Europe is a work of art born from real data-weaving representing the construction of the European Union and the governance of the Council of the European Union. You can find more here. (Image: Total Croatia News)

 

This year, the Open Day will take place on the 7th of May. For those in Brussels, tomorrow you can visit the buildings of the European Commission, the Council of the EU, and the European Parliament from 10:00 to 18:00. On-site, you will find general information about the EU with areas dedicated to the environment, digital transformation, and youth, with many games and activities for the whole family. 

There will also be several live events online on social media for those who cannot be present. 

Learn more about Europe Day and events here and also from this Factsheet.

Online and in-person events at the Council UEEuropean Commission, and the European Parliament

Explore also all the activities organised in Croatia by the Representative Office of the European Commission.

We would like to remember also that the year 2022 marks the European Year of Youth and the importance of young Europeans in achieving a better future, seeking to be greener, digital-friendly, and healthier. And if you are looking for more information about activities taking place in Croatia, contact the National Coordinator from the EU Member States by accessing this link.  

Enjoy all the activities during this European weekend all over Europe. 

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Croats Trust Police and Army the Most, the EU More than Their Government

April 14, 2022 - Croatian citizens have the greatest trust in the army and police, according to a survey of political scientists for whom data have been collected for more than two decades. Croats trust the European Union more than their own government.

While citizens of organized and developed EU member states have high trust in the institutions of their countries, Croatian citizens have the greatest trust in the army and police. Croats trust the Church more than NGOs and, for many perhaps unexpectedly, trust the EU more than Croatian public administration, reports tportal.hr. This is shown by the research "Stability and/or change? Trust in institutions in Croatia from 1999 to 2020." by political scientist Kosta Bovan from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb and Nikola Baketa from the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, published in the scientific journal Revija za sociologiju.

They analyzed data collected in surveys in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020, conducted by the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, in which citizens were asked to 1 to 5 assess the degree of trust in political and social institutions.

It turned out that the army and the police enjoy the most stable trust of the citizens.

Thus, in 1999, citizens' trust in the army was rated at 3.64, and in 2020 at 3.62, while trust in the police in the same period reached 3.15 and 3.22, respectively. Trust in political parties in 2020 was 1.89, and in 1999 at least 2.52.

While the trust in the Parliament in 1999 was 3.15, in 2020 it dropped to barely 2.03. The situation is similar to the decline in confidence in the Government, in 1999 it received a score of 2.97, and in 2020 2.19. NGOs cannot boast of trust either, because in 2020 the trust in them was rated at 2.41, and in 1999 it was 2.82.

The Church enjoys greater trust than non-governmental organizations, in which the trust of citizens was 2.75 in 2020 and 3.36 in 1999. Croats' trust in trade unions in 2020 was lower (2.27) than in the media (2.45), although neither of them can be satisfied because from 1999 to 2020, trust in them fell.

Croats trust the EU more (2.72) than the Croatian public administration, which in 2020 was barely 2.19. Confidence in the courts is even lower, so in 2020 it was 2.04, while in 1999 it was still 2.90.

Political scientists conclude that the analysis showed that in the period from 1999 to 2020, citizens' trust in representative institutions decreased, which suggests the alienation of citizens from these institutions and poses a problem for the functioning of representative democracy in Croatia while trust in security institutions, army, and police extremely stable, wrote Večernji list journalist Dijana Jurasić.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 11 April 2022

10 Croatian Secondary Schools Chosen for Participation in EU Youth Project

11 April 2022 - The secondary school in Vela Luka on the southern island of Korčula has been chosen along with another nine Croatian secondary schools for participation in a European Union youth project.

The project, called "The Future of Europe: the European Year of Youth", was launched by Croatian member of the European Parliament Predrag Fred Matić and lasts until the end of this year. It involves over 4,300 Croatian secondary school students, who will raise key issues faced by their communities and propose solutions.

In addition to Vela Luka, secondary schools in Vukovar, Čakovec, Velika Gorica, Split, Slavonski Brod, Konjščina, Pula, Petrinja and Krk also participate in the project.

Participation in this project is of special importance to a small island school such as the one in Vela Luka, which has about 120 students and 28 teachers.

"This project will give our students a chance to speak about their problems and get actively involved in EU decision making processes," the Head of Vela Luka Secondary School, Ofelija Dragojević, told Hina.

The school, established in 1952, provides four-year programs in humanities and social sciences and in economics, as well as three-year programs for chefs and ship engineers. In 2021, it was chosen for the fourth time as a European Parliament Ambassador School.

The participating students will work on topics relating to education, unemployment, culture, sports, politics, ecology and problems faced by vulnerable groups among young people. Each school will focus on a specific area, and the students in Vela Luka will deal with cultural and sports activities for young people. They will identify key problems and discuss them first with individuals, organisations and institutions in their local community and then with those at the EU level.

The students in Vela Luka will present specific problems faced by young people on their island, in particular the lack of cultural and sports amenities and activities with which they could fill their free time, as well as connectivity.

More information about the European Year of Youth is available at https://europa.eu/youth/year-of-youth_hr.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

World Health Day in Croatia: Our Planet, Our Health

April 7, 2022 – World Health Day is marked under the slogan "Our planet, our health". This year, the data from a large European study reveals the prevalence and incidence of the most common diseases.

HRT reports on the situation in Croatia, where as many as one million and two hundred thousand people have hypertension, while ten percent of the population has diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are data from the first such research in Croatia as part of a European project on the incidence of the most common diseases. This year's World Health Day aims to raise awareness of the impact of the environment on human health.

The most common diseases in Croatia are hypertension, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes

Hypertension, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes are the most common diseases of the elderly population in Croatia, according to data on population morbidity presented by the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) for the first time today on World Health Day.

These are data for Croatia collected as part of the Eurostat project "Morbidity Statistics", with the aim of determining the incidence of certain conditions and diseases as determined by the European Commission.

The collected data shows that almost a third of the Croatian population suffers from hypertension, and this share increases significantly in the elderly population - eight out of ten people over the age of 65 have some of the diseases in this group.

Chronic lung diseases also affect the elderly population, with data showing that one in ten people over the age of 65 suffer from such diseases.

The research once again proved a high presence of diabetes among the population: almost 10 percent of the Croatian population suffers from diabetes, with a rise to a quarter of the population over 65.

High prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety, arthrosis, dementia ...

Mood disorders (affective disorders), which were diagnosed in 6.6 percent of the population, also have a high prevalence. They are twice as common in women as in the male population (8.7 percent versus 4.4 percent) and are most often diagnosed in women over 50.

The situation is similar when it comes to anxiety disorders. They are twice as common in women as in men (16.7 percent versus 8.3 percent), and especially affect the female population after the age of 50.

Osteoarthritis has a relatively high prevalence - 10.8 percent of the population, ischemic heart disease - 5.8 percent and cerebrovascular disease - 2.9 percent.

The prevalence of dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) in the age group over 60 is 2.9 percent, with it being twice as common in women after the age of 70.

The reference period was from 2015 to 2017, data were collected from 1 March 2019 to 1 September 2020. In addition to Croatia, a number of countries took part in the project, including Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The publication is the beginning of systematic data collection on the frequency of leading public health problems in Croatia based on prevalence (total number of cases) and incidence (number of new cases), not just on the use of health care, which is a big qualitative step in national health statistics.

“The World Health Organization estimates that more than thirteen million deaths worldwide, including 1.4 million deaths in the European Region of the World Health Organization are related to avoidable environmental factors”, said Primarius Iva Pejnović Franelić, MD, Ph.D. of the Croatian office of the World Health Organization.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

ETIAS and Schengen: What Croatia Bound Travelers Can Expect in the Coming Months

9 March 2022 – As the Croatian tourism sector begins to recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, prospective travellers should be aware of the new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which is supposed to come into force by the end of this year.

March is upon us, and as the mercury rises, COVID cases are falling, both trends that many hope will be sustained as Croatia prepares for a supposed record-breaking summer tourist season. While some reports suggest low vaccine rates may impact turnouts this summer, the Croatian Tourism Association is expecting continued recovery as countries worldwide begin to loosen COVID restrictions for citizens and foreigners alike.

Currently, fully vaccinated travellers can enter Croatia with little hassle, only requiring proof of vaccination in the form of a nationally recognized vaccine pass, such as the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Additional testing options remain for those who are not yet vaccinated.

However, while Croatia’s facilitated entry scheme is likely contributing to the awakening of dormant holidaymakers, the withdrawal of pandemic era testing requirements by source countries is more probably the reason why reservation books are filling in towns from Pula to Makarska. Many countries where Croatia sources its highest numbers of tourists have reduced or removed reentry restrictions for vaccinated citizens who are eager to start enjoying their vacation days as they did before March 2020. Besides the European Union, Canada, the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom have removed either all testing requirements or now accept the cheaper and faster rapid antigen test for vaccinated homeward bound passengers. Testing requirements may be further reduced according to the local epidemiological situation, but prospective visitors will have to wait and see.

So, it appears that this year, the springtime sun is symbolic of more than just the return of migratory birds and dusty sweaters. As passport booklets bloom in unison with May flowers, we can all heave a sigh of relief and look forward to returning the status quo we enjoyed before the pandemic, right? Well, in the short term, yes. But looking further into the future, not exactly. But don’t panic, let me explain.

The nationals of many countries have enjoyed visa-free access to member states of the European Union and the European Economic Area. These are citizens from countries that are not EU members but through treaties and visa waiver agreements are permitted to visit for 90 days or less without visiting an embassy and applying for a visitor visa. Many travellers probably are unaware of their privileged status, never paying mind to the bureaucratic hurdles that many face when planning a European getaway. Nonetheless, Croatian vacation planning will soon require an additional step.

Although no official date has been announced, starting from the end of 2022, non-EU nationals will be required to apply for an electronic travel authorization called ETIAS when visiting the Schengen area. While the idea of using to virtual waiver may seem daunting, the process is quite simple, in most cases taking a maximum of 10 minutes to complete the form and receive approval. At a cost of €7, authorization will be required for travellers aged 18-70 with a validity of three years. Applicants must provide passport information and answer a series of security questions. The system then checks your information against Interpol and EU databases.

The decision to implement ETIAS was made by the European Commission as a strategy to improve security across European borders. In fact, similar electronic travel authorizations are already in use in Canada, Australia, and the United States and have been integrated well into each nation’s respective immigration scheme. It is important to note that those who possess multiple citizenships, including at least one EU/Schengen passport, will not be required to apply for ETIAS so long as they cross the Schengen border using their local travel document. It is also important to note that those who hold permanent residence in Croatia will also be exempt from this requirement. Fortunately for those who still have reservations, officials will provide a 6-month grace period that will allow passengers to adapt to the new system, streamlining the introduction of a process that many will still view as tedious and unfamiliar.

Some may have noticed that ETIAS applies only to Schengen members, a status that Croatia has yet to obtain. This observation is correct, but Croatia may still implement ETIAS upon its initial trial at the end of this year. After undergoing the most comprehensive evaluation for Schengen membership of any state so far, in December 2021, government officials from the 27 EU members agreed that Croatia meets all the conditions for implementing the Schengen acquis.

It remains somewhat unclear when Croatia will remove its border checks, becoming a functioning member of the Schengen area. But, if government predictions are accurate, we can expect a decision from the EU as early as June, with Croatian accession before New Year’s Eve.

Whatever the pace, the implementation of ETIAS in Croatia is inevitable and a factor that future travellers should be aware of far in advance of departure dates.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Young People Should Be Taught About EU Before University - Panel

ZAGREB, 24 Feb 2022 - Croatia should work on the political education of its young people because they are not taught enough about the European Union's structure and policies before their school-leaving exam, a panel was told in Zagreb on Thursday.

The panel, entitled "The EU and Youth - Communication Noise", was devoted to communication between the EU institutions and citizens, in particular young people.

Many citizens are not acquainted with the responsibilities of the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council, and the Council of the European Union, and young people in Croatia are no exception, even though they have been living in the EU for nine years now.

Sunčana Glavak, a Croatian member of the European Parliament from the European People's Party group, said that changes to the education system were needed so that young people learned which EU institution was responsible for what.

"I think it is too late, for example, for political sciences students to learn about the EU's political system in the final year of their undergraduate program. By comparison, while I was in secondary school, we were taught a lot about the system of the country I was living in at the time," she told young journalists at the panel, referring to the former Yugoslavia.

Former Green MEP Davor Škrlec said that for a long time there had been a prevailing opinion among the citizens that "everything is in the hands of the European Commission, while the European Parliament is just some sort of nuisance, which of course is not true."

"Young people experience the European Union only at university, through the Erasmus Programme. They should be informed about EU policies earlier and should be given a chance to say what bothers them and how they can resolve a certain problem," Škrlec said.

Young people should be encouraged to think about and discuss current problems and future challenges, the panel was told.

Glavak also raised the issue of the language used by EU politicians and institutions, which is often unintelligible to the public in general and puts them off from following EU policies. "Politicians should simplify their language. We are stuck in archaic forms of communication, and young people have no time for that," she noted.

Nikica Stijepić, a student at the Faculty of Political Sciences, said he agreed that the names of the EU institutions were confusing, but that a priority should be given to programs that would inform young people about European topics, such as the European Youth Parliament.

"Through the European Youth Parliament I had a chance to learn about problems my colleagues from other countries were thinking about," Stijepić said.

Last year the EU institutions launched a Conference on the Future of Europe to get closer to the citizens and hear their ideas about the direction in which the Union should be developing. In September, 800 randomly selected Europeans were invited to four panels and three discussions to adopt recommendations for the EU institutions as to what they expected from the European alliance.

This panel within the Conference on the Future of Europe was organized by Hina in cooperation with Radio Student and Global, the newspaper of political sciences students.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Croatian Foreign Minister says Leaders Should Cease Blaming Brussels for Everything

ZAGREB, 20 Feb 2022 - Leaders in Europe should stop blaming Brussels for everything as they also participate in policymaking of the European Union (EU), Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Munich on Sunday.

Addressing the "Fostering European Cohesion" panel discussion within the three-day conference, Minister Grlić Radman held a keynote speech instead of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who cancelled his attendance after his father passed away on Saturday evening.

"If we want to preserve our Union, based on the values, the elected office-holders should cease bearing a grudge against Brussels for everything. Brussels only yields the outcomes in which creation we participate", said the Croatian minister.

Grlić Radamn added that the process of decision-making in the EU had always been complicated and thus difficult, as the process had been conceived to take into account the differences between big and small, rich and poor countries with diverse cultures and languages so as to make it possible for each voice to be heard.

"This has been a success, and the EU is the most successful peace project in the world."

"Nowadays, European leaders are faced with new economic and political pressures", he said.

"Negotiating has become a more and more difficult task, the pressure from the public is growing and the digital environment makes each voice, no matter how extreme it may be, resonate strongly and far", he said.

"Some of the politicians engaged in the struggle against irresponsible populists have taken over their language, and it often includes blaming Brussels for everything", he said.

During the discussion, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that it was not strange that the EU was in a state of crisis as the entire world is in a crisis.

"It may be that we have internal wranglings, but we take concerted actions at the global level", she added.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares called for more emphasis on commonalities for all in the EU.

The 58th Munich Security Conference was held from 18 to 20, at its usual venue in Munich, the Hotel Bayerischer Hof.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

EU Fund For Zagreb Quake Relief Can Be Tapped One More Year

ZAGREB, 17 Feb 2022 - Croatia will be able to use money from the European Solidarity Fund for earthquake relief until June 2023, which is one year longer than the initial 18 months, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said after they met in Brussels on Thursday.

The commission will approve the use of EUSF for earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb until June 2023, which has been adjusted to the period for the use of the allocation because of the earthquake in Banovina and progressive damage caused, Plenković tweeted on Thursday.

Von der Leyen tweeted a similar message

“Glad to meet Andrej Plenkovic today. We discussed reconstruction work supported by the EU after the Zagreb and Petrinja earthquakes. Given the exceptional circumstances, the Commission will look favorably at the request to align deadlines for absorption of EUSF funds to June 2023," tweeted von der Leyen.

Croatia was granted €68.37 million for earthquake relief which according to the provisions of the European Union Solidarity Fund can be absorbed until June this year but that has now been extended for another year after Plenković met with von der Leyen.

We appreciate that the Commission has taken into account the specific situation Croatia was faced with after the two devastating earthquakes that struck this area while we were simultaneously dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a force majeure, Plenković added.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Croatia Near Top in EU Security-Wise, Interior Minister Says

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Friday Croatia was near the top in the EU in terms of security, and announced the procurement of new police vehicles and equipment.

That would not have been possible had we not embarked on a comprehensive procurement of everything the police need," he said at a ceremony at the Police Academy at which 28 traffic police vans worth HRK 13 million were handed over.

Božinović announced the procurement of motorcycles and interceptor vehicles worth HRK 40 million, saying that it was an investment in comprehensive security so that Croatia could stay near the top in the EU in terms of security of its own citizens and foreign tourists.

"Besides all the equipment, we put the most trust in Croatian police officers who are on the street, in their offices, round the clock, and who at this moment, when temperatures are well below zero, are on Croatian roads and borders. All of that is a complex job coordinated by the General Police Directorate," he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Austrian Minister Says Croatia's Admission to Schengen Area Important for EU

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Austrian Minister for the EU Karoline Edtstadler said in Vienna on Wednesday that Croatia's joining the Schengen Area was an important security issue for the EU which Vienna supported, the Croatian parliament stated in a press release.

Minister Edtstadler met with Parliament Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner, who is visiting Austria.

At the meeting, Reiner thanked Austria for its support in the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Croatia in 2020.

He also thanked Austria for its continued support for Croatia's foreign policy priorities -- joining the Schengen Area, the euro area and the OECD.

The parliament's press release also said that Reiner explained to the Austrian minister the problem of the current election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the status of Croats in that country.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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