Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Marija Vučković Takes Part in Informal Meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - The agriculture strategy envisions further investment in public services in rural areas, with an emphasis on digitisation, irrigation, renewable energy production and increasing energy efficiency, Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said at an informal meeting of EU ministers.

In order to succeed in that, it is essential to continue investing in human capital, the minister stressed.

Minister Vučković was taking part in an informal meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which was held in Kranj, Slovenia on Monday and Tuesday. The Agriculture Ministry reported on Tuesday that the central topic of the meeting was strengthening dialogue between urban and rural areas in the EU, with an emphasis on possibilities for their further development.

The long-term vision for the EU's rural areas up to 2040 aims to reverse negative trends affecting rural areas, including depopulation, population ageing and the decline in attractiveness of rural areas as places to live. The vision brings together several policies that go beyond the common agricultural policy (CAP) and require a more integrated and coordinated approach at the EU, national and regional level, the press release says.

In order for the process aimed at strengthening rural areas to succeed, it is necessary to continue investing in human resources, Minister Vučković stressed.

We have to provide funds for investments and help young people to realise their business goals in rural areas and respond to challenges by creating added value, she said.

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

 

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Former Officials From Ex-Yugoslav Countries Issue Appeal to EU, NATO Over Montenegro

ZAGREB, 7 Sept, 2021 - Former office-holders from the area of the former Yugoslavia on Monday evening sent a letter to EU and NATO leaders, expressing concern about the situation in Montenegro and calling on them to join in active political dialogue and help resolve the crisis in that country peacefully.

"One more place of conflict and crisis in Europe is the last thing Europe and the world need right now. We therefore call on EU institutions and other allies to join in active political dialogue with the different political and social stakeholders in the current crisis in Montenegro and help them arrive at a peaceful solution to the escalating conflict in the country," the letter of appeal reads.

Signatories to the letter, including Croatia's former foreign minister Vesna Pusić, former Serbian prime minister Žarko Korać, and former Bosnia and Herzegovina prime minister Zlatko Lagumdžija, said that the recent events surrounding the enthronement of the new leader of the Serb Orthodox Church in Montenegro were only superficially related to religious issues but in reality "have nothing to do with religion, and not even with politics or ideology."

"They are yet another manifestation of a conflict between forces that believe that Montenegro should not exist as a separate state and those who believe that Montenegro should stay independent, with all attributes of statehood," the letter reads.

"Since we have all witnessed the Balkan wars of the 1990s, we cannot help but notice alarming similarities between the current developments in Montenegro and those that led to the wars of 25-30 years ago," the signatories to the letter said, noting that Montenegro was not a country with a large population but that strategically it was very important for the stability of Southeast Europe.

Riots erupted in Montenegro on Sunday during the inauguration of the Serb Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Montenegro, Joanikije, with those whose opposed the ceremony being held in Cetinje putting up barricades on roads leading to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica and clashing with police.

Metropolitan Joanikije and the head of the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC), Patriarch Porfirije, were taken to Cetinje aboard a police helicopter and the religious ceremony of Joanikije's inauguration was held there.

The protesters interpreted the SPC's insistence on holding the ceremony in the Montenegrin historical capital of Cetinje as an act of provocation and humiliation of Montenegrins, asking that it be moved to some other Serb Orthodox shrine in Montenegro.

Thirty police officers and protesters were injured in the clashes and police used tear gas and stun guns during Sunday's riots.

PM: Those who violated the law will be held to account

Montenegro has demonstrated stability and it has shown that the policy of peace is the most important to its citizens, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić has said, noting that those who have violated the law in the latest events will be held to account.

The enthronement of the head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Montenegro was an important moment that some tried to use to destabilise Montenegro but their attempt failed, said Krivokapić.

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

Monday, 6 September 2021

New Croatian Energy Label: More Transparence for Light Source Efficiency

September 6, 2021 - A new Croatian energy label with more arranged levels of energetic efficiency and a QR code that connects buyers directly to the European Commission database offers more transparency to Croatian buyers.

Noted for promoting energy efficiency, particularly within the REPLACE Project, the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) is also involved in the Label 2020 project. As EIHP reported, since September 1, 2021, a new energy label has been providing more information on the energy efficiency of light source products.

The Label 2020 website explains that this new Croatian energy label developed better information for customers to educate them further on product efficiency.

This includes levels A-G (With A being the most energy efficient and G being the least efficient), with QR codes on the top of the label that provide a direct link to the European Commission's database for transparency and easier market control from the national government. In addition, energy spending is portrayed in a more express way in the middle of the energy label, while the bottom of the label has various pictograms which provide information on the selected features of the product.

''Several pictograms are the same as in the old label, some have been reviewed, and others are completely new,'' pointed out Label 2020.

''The EU energy tag for devices has remained a crucial starter for innovation and the market development of energy efficient technologies over the last 20 years. The energy label plays a two-part role in innovation stimulation for manufacturers and demanding efficient devices for buyers,'' explained Label 2020.

The new energy Croatian label aims to support all branches of the energy sale on the consumption market. From consumers and (professional) buyers through an information campaign, services and tools, to distributers (with the implementation of the label at the stores and for online purchase), manufacturers (by delivering the correct labels and product info), as well as for others.

With the new Croatian energy label having been a staple for the past 20 years, the change was triggered by the previous A level having three sublevels which opens doors for the incorrect advertising of products that weren't really energy efficient.

''Therefore, the European Union changed and optimised the label in line with the needs of the users. The new label was presented to buyers in physical stores and online on March 1, 2021, and includes energy classes from A to G. These scales will be updated regularly,'' said the website.

With the aforementioned QR code link being the strongest and most innovative demonstration of transparency of the updated system, the sparks of electricity will hopefully be greener than last month as Croatian buyers now have more options to make an informed purchase.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Croatian Sovereignists Launching Campaign for Referendum Against Euro Introduction

ZAGREB, 28 Aug, 2021 - A member of parliament from the Croatian Sovereignists party, Marko Milanović Litre, said on Saturday that his party was launching a campaign for a referendum on the introduction of the euro, criticising the government for ignoring citizens' opinion on the matter.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić and a whole set of Brussels bureaucrats have decided on their own that Croatia should join the euro area, Milanović Litre said in a Facebook post, noting that his party had launched a campaign to protect the national currency, the kuna.

"Referendum is the only way to accomplish that," he said.

Criticising Plenković and his government's attitude to referendum initiatives and what he called disregard for citizens' role in them, Milanović Litre said that that attitude was evidenced by Plenković's recent statement that "from a formal and legal point of view, a referendum on the introduction of the euro was already held in 2012 and a new one is not necessary."

The MP said that ballots for the 2012 referendum on Croatia's accession to the EU, to which Plenković was referring, featured only one question: "Are you in favour of Croatia's accession to the European Union?" and that the referendum campaign made no mention of accession to the euro area.

The Croatian people have the right to state their opinion on all important topics that affect their lives, notably decisions whereby a part of their hard-won sovereignty is ceded to Brussels, said Milanović Litre, adding that Croatia was poorly prepared for EU membership.

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

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Friday, 20 August 2021

Iron Age Danube Route Recognised by European Council

August 20, 2021 - The Iron Age Danube Route is a new addition to the Croatian offer, relevant not just for tourism but for science, research, and education, and recognised by the European Council.

The Iron Age Danube Route addresses one of the most fragile, though imposing and attractive prehistoric archaeological phenomena, the Iron Age landscapes. Characterised by monumental structures, such as burial mound cemeteries, flat cemeteries, fortified hilltop settlements, and oppida, as well as elements indicating the complex organisation of space, Iron Age landscapes belong to the period between the 9th and the end of the 1st century BC, according to the official website of the Iron Age Danube Route Association (IADR).

This association was founded back in July 2020 with the goal of enhancing international scientific cooperation regarding the period of the Iron Age, as this is a period marked by an extraordinary corpus of movable and intangible heritage. The focus on the Danube region is, among other things, owing to this heritage being housed in numerous museums across the Danube region, including the most important regional and national institutions.

''Compiling the existing sources of knowledge and creating a strong interdisciplinary and international network of expert institutions from Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia in the fields of archaeology, cultural heritage protection, tourism, as well as local stakeholders, the Iron Age Danube Route Association was founded in July 2020 with the aim of the further development and management of the IADR,''

The Archaeological Museum in Zagreb is one of the founding partners of the association, and other institutions from Croatia include the Centre for Prehistoric Research, Kaptol County, Papuk Nature Park, and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb. Other partners include museums and faculties from Hungary, Austria, and Slovenia, all bringing their top experts in the field to the table for the association to work.

And that work paid off. As reported by the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb's website, the European Council granted the culture route certificate to the Iron Age Danube Route which stretches through Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Germany, and Slovenia.

''This is the first culture route of The European Council with its headquarters in Croatia“, said the Museum's website adding that the route is managed by the Association.

''The Iron Age Danube Route matched the criteria by the five priority fields of action by the European Council. These include cooperation in research and development, the progression of European heritage and history, educational exchanges, youth culture, engagement within the frame of the current cultural and artistic practices and sustainable cultural tourism development,'' explained the website.

The certificate is important as it enhances the overall visibility of the sight, allowing the public to become better informed about the area, and enriching the overall Croatian cultural and tourist offer, creating new opportunities both for business and for scientific and educational purposes.

Did you know Vukovar is located along the Danube river? Learn more in our TC guide.

For more about Croatian history, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

EU Funds Absorbed by Croatia Exceed Payments Into EU Budget by HRK 43 Bn

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The latest report on the absorption of funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) shows that since its EU entry in 2013 until 11 August 2021, Croatia absorbed HRK 43.15 million more from the EU budget than it paid into it, the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry has said.

In the 2014-2020 period, Croatia had €10.7 billion from ESIF at its disposal, the ministry said in a statement on the report presented by Minister Nataša Tramišak and adopted at a closed-door government session on Thursday.

Until 11 August 2021, contracts were signed for projects worth €13.12 billion or 122.22% of the allocated amount.

Payments were made in the amount of €6.32 billion or 58.89% of the allocation and €5.27 billion was verified, or 49.13% of the allocation.

In the period from 2013 to 11 August 2021 the difference between EU funds paid into Croatia's budget and national funds paid into the EU budget amounted to HRK 43.15 billion (€5.75bn) in Croatia's favour, the Ministry said.

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

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

GLAS Party: Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Should Advocate Active Role of EU in Taking Care of Refugees

ZAGREB, 17 Aug, 2021 - The GLAS party on Tuesday requested that at today's extraordinary meeting of European foreign ministers, Gordan Grlić Radman of Croatia advocate a proactive role of the EU in taking care of refugees and protecting the human rights of Afghan citizens, especially women and girls.

"The images from Afghanistan must not leave us indifferent, nor can we pretend that is not our concern," GLAS said in the press release and requested that Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Grlić Radman openly advocate a proactive role of the EU in taking care of refugees.

"In its foreign policy and action within the EU, Croatia must build recognizability on the promotion and protection of human rights as well as on empathy and advocacy of human life as the highest value. Our experience of war destruction and suffering gives us not only an additional moral obligation to always be the first to advocate these values, but in such traumatic situations it can also be an important contribution to the EU policy and activities it plans to take," the opposition party said in the press release.

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Croatian President Zoran Milanović Meets With EU Military Committee Chairman

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - Croatian President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović met on Tuesday with General Claudio Graziano, the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, the President's Office said in a press release.

Graziano thanked Milanović for the participation of the Croatian Armed Forces in EU-led missions and operations.

They talked about the Strategic Compass document which is expected to give the EU clear security and defence guidelines in the coming period.

The talks also focused on battle groups, operations and missions led by the EU, cooperation between the EU and NATO, and the development of the Union's defence and security capabilities, the press release said.

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Economy Minister Ćorić on EC Plan to Reduce Gas Emissions

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić on Wednesday spoke of an informal EU meeting of environment ministers in Slovenia on new legislation on climate and the European Commission's recommendation to reduce greenhouse emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

He explained at a press conference that this refers to 12 legislative proposals from various areas that are being considered by EU member states in reference to the set objectives.

Ćorić said that this was an important step towards strengthening the EU as a leader in the fight against climate change.

Tax on carbon is a novelty - legislation is very ambitious

Ćorić explained that the new legislation envisages a carbon tax that should protect production in the EU compared to countries that export to the EU but are not encompassed by EU standards and mechanisms.

We are aware that if nothing is done in the next ten years, the potential costs of the damage could be much higher than the costs of transforming economies, he said.

With reference to financing that transformation, Ćorić said that Croatia has more than HRK 60 billion available over the next ten years to be spent in various commercial segments to reduce carbon emissions.

He underscored that the new legislation is very ambitious and a step towards Europe's economic transformation.

Price hikes to be eased with absorbed funds

He said that transition is a huge challenge and is being disputed by some but that it is also a huge opportunity for economies like Croatia through generous allocations of EU funds.

He recalled that Croatia's energy sector has a very small portion reliant on carbon, considering the significant share of hydro-power and potential for renewable sources.

Referring to the announcement for the construction of a new block at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) in Slovenia, Ćorić said that that project could take up to a decade to be achieved, adding that Croatia has still not been officially informed of that project.

He recalled that obligations existed under international conventions for projects of that nature with a cross-border impact. Croatia has been advised of extending the lifespan of NEK to 2043.

He underscored that NEK is a stable source of energy and believes that it will continue to be so. He added that his ministry is interested in seeing more formal proposals to see whether Croatia would enter into a partnership with Slovenia regarding the construction of a new block at the Krško plant.

He added that Croatia was monitoring the situation with the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary because Croatia imports 30 to 45% of energy needs from abroad, depending on the hydrological situation.

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

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

European Comission Publishes Rule of Law Report on Croatia

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - A series of alleged ethical breaches and disciplinary violations by judges led to proceedings against them, public procurement procedures remain a high-risk area for corruption, and lawsuits against journalists give rise to concern, the European Commission says in a report on the rule of law in Croatia.

The Commission on Tuesday published its second annual report on the rule of law in the EU member states, a new instrument that should help in early detection and prevention of problems relating to the rule of law.

The report covers four key areas: the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media freedom and pluralism, and institutional issues relating to checks and balances.

The Commission noted that the report only provides a description of the situation without giving any recommendations and is not designed as a ranking. Its purpose is to raise public awareness and promote open discussion between the member states on rule of law issues both at national and at EU level.

The justice system

The Commission says that the Croatian justice system has seen improvements in reducing length of proceedings and backlogs, but that further improvements are still needed to address serious efficiency and quality challenges.

"The ongoing process for appointing the new Supreme Court President has given rise to controversy and to repeated disparaging public statements against judges", and "the Constitutional Court stressed the importance of cooperation between state authorities" in addressing different views on the appointment of the Supreme Court President.

"The State Judicial Council made proposals to strengthen its role in selecting judges – an issue already raised in the 2020 Rule of Law Report."

Without naming any names, the report says that "a series of alleged ethical breaches and disciplinary violations by judges led to proceedings before the State Judicial Council and Judges’ Councils, as well as to a criminal investigation."

"The level of perceived judicial independence remains very low. Shortages in human resources of the State Judicial Council and the State Attorney’s Councils remain, even if some limited reinforcements have been allocated to verify the newly published asset declarations of judges and state attorneys," the Commission says.

The anti-corruption framework

The reports notes that a new Strategy on the Prevention of Corruption for 2021-2030 is in the public consultation process, envisaging the strengthening of the legal framework on prevention of conflict of interest, which is currently being drafted. Codes of Ethics for members of the Government and for members of Parliament are still missing, while “revolving doors” are only partially regulated.

"Detailed rules on lobbying activities remain to be introduced. While changes to the framework of political immunity of the members of Government were announced, the legislative action has yet to follow. Public procurement procedures remain a high-risk area for corruption, and several cases have been discovered due to reporting by whistleblowers. The prosecution and investigation of high-level corruption continues, but due to protracted proceedings convictions are often delayed."

Media freedom

"Croatia is updating its media legislation to transpose the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, with the revision of the Electronic Media Act to be adopted still in 2021. Concerns about the political independence of the Agency for Electronic Media persist," the Commission says.

"Croatia has a solid framework on transparency of media ownership information and envisages further improvements. While state advertising is partly regulated by the Electronic Media Act, stakeholders report it often undermines the political independence of media outlets which are economically dependent on such funding, notably at local level.

"A legal framework for the protection of journalists is in place, but they continue to face threats. In particular, the high number of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) targeting journalists continues to be a serious concern. Access to information is ensured by law, but delays in the processing of requests from journalists persist."

Checks and balances

The Commission says that although public consultations are embedded in legislative procedures, stakeholders perceive citizen participation to be rather formalistic than substantive.

It notes that Croatia did not declare a state of emergency, and COVID-19 pandemic measures were based on the twice-mended law regarding infectious diseases. "The Constitutional Court has reviewed these measures, finding that they were compatible with the Constitution and also ruled that Parliament should find ways to guarantee its functions during the pandemic."

"The People’s Ombudsperson’s access to the information required to undertake investigations
needs further improvement. The National Plan for Creating and Enabling Environment for
the Civil Society Development 2021-2027 remains in drafting phase since 2016 – an issue
raised in the 2020 Rule of law Report," the Commission says.

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

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