Tuesday, 16 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: EMA's Stance on AstraZeneca Vaccine to be Known Tomorrow

ZAGREB, 15 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that a coordinated stance by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine should be known tomorrow, after several countries have temporarily suspended administering the vaccine due to the emergence of certain side effects.

"Our stance is that a sound test has to be conducted to determine if there are any reasons, based on the findings so far, for Croatia also to go in that direction. From what the experts are telling me, there are no such indications for the time being. Tomorrow, we will probably see a coordinated stance by EMA, which as far as I understand, will proceed cautiously, that is, continue testing the vaccine itself and continue with consultations with the company regarding any possible consequences of the vaccination," Plenković said ahead of a joint meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Presidency and National Council.

He added that the director of Croatia's HALMED drug regulator, Siniša Tomić, today participated in EMA meetings which discussed what to do next considering the emergence of several side effects that have been reported throughout Europe.

In reference to the procurement of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Plenković said that Croatia would wait for it to be approved and that the EMA had launched the relevant procedure. In the meantime, we will obtain additional information and test the vaccine, he added.

Asked who made the decision on how many doses of a vaccine Croatia would order, Plenković said that the procurement of vaccines was launched in the summer before reports that AstraZeneca had had certain problems with clinical trials.

"The vaccine that at the time was way ahead in terms of testing and the fact that it could be finished and its approval sought was AstraZeneca's and we, like the majority of other countries, immediately ordered the largest quantity of that vaccine. Then we ordered the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Croatia ordered a total of 8.7 million doses," said Plenković, adding that no one could have known that problems would emerge in vaccine production when the initial orders were made.

Asked whether anyone would be held responsible for the poor estimate in procuring vaccines, he said that for the entire time the aim had been to protect citizens, which was why more doses had been ordered than Croatia needed.

"The problem has emerged because one company, from which we ordered the biggest quantity... now has a problem in delivering the vaccine to the entire European Union. If that problem didn't exist, the rate of inoculation in Croatia would be very high," he explained.

Asked why Croatia didn't order the largest quantity of the Pfizer vaccine, which was the option many countries used, he said that only a few countries did that and that Croatia's decision was based on an expert opinion at the time.

"Croatia has a population of four million people and can immunise a maximum 3.4 million, and how could it justify buying 20 million doses?" "We did everything that was logical and correct based on the information that was available at the time and as time is moving on, we are looking for other solutions, just like everyone else," he said.

He added that it was necessary to find a corrective mechanism to redistribute the vaccines.

As far as continuing inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Croatia is concerned, Plenković said that the experts would decide on that. "As far as I understand, EMA's stance is that when the risk and benefits are taken into account, at the moment it is better to be vaccinated," said Plenković.

With regard to the European initiative for a vaccination certificate, Plenković said that the European Commission would release its proposal on Wednesday and that that would enable free movement and the tourism season.

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

Friday, 12 March 2021

Croatia Successfully Completes Schengen Evaluation Procedure

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - In four years Croatia met 281 recommendations in eight acquis areas, successfully completing the Schengen evaluation procedure, the Interior Ministry said on Friday after a meeting of EU interior ministers who discussed security and migrations.

The Portuguese presidency and Commissioner Ylva Johansson informed the Council that Croatia had successfully completed the Schengen evaluation procedure which began in June 2015 and ended in May 2019, the ministry said in a press release.

In the most comprehensive evaluation of preparedness for membership of the Schengen area, Croatia met 281 recommendations in eight Schengen acquis areas, including 145 pertaining to external border control.

Early in February, the Council confirmed that Croatia had met all the recommendations in that, the most demanding evaluation area, the ministry said, adding that in the past two weeks bilateral meetings were held with four member states which were unsure if Croatia had indeed met all the membership requirements.

On 2 March, Interior Minister Davor Božinović met with all the EU ambassadors accredited in Croatia at which he informed them in detail of everything Croatia had done in the past three and a half years to ensure full application of all Schengen standards.

"The ministers endorsed the report by the Portuguese presidency and Commissioner Johansson, without debate thereby confirming the completion of the Schengen evaluation procedure for Croatia," the ministry said.

Croatia's job and goal now is to prepare everything that is necessary for the Council of the EU to adopt a political decision on the Schengen membership, the ministry added.

Croatia evaluated as no other EU member state

"Croatia successfully passed the most comprehensive and the most detailed evaluation, like no other EU member state," said Božinović, who attended a video conference of the Home Affairs Council.

He added that Johansson said that this was the final confirmation of Croatia's preparedness to join the Schengen Area, while the chairman of the Council of the EU, Portuguese Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita, supported Schengen enlargement to Croatia.

The ministry said the Council held the first debate on a draft directive on the resilience of critical subjects, which is aimed at further contributing to the implementation of EU Security Union Strategy targets.

The Portuguese presidency reported on the external dimension, border protection and solidarity. Another priority is working on the establishment of legal migration routes to more effectively curb illegal ones.

Stronger cooperation with third countries

The European Commission presented a report on strengthening cooperation with third countries in returns and readmissions as well as a 2019 report on the evaluation of cooperation in readmission.

Božinović said Croatia saw the former report as an important step forward in dealing with the return of migrants illegally staying in the EU.

"All Commission activities to use the potential of the EU visa policy are welcome, in an effort to encourage third countries to cooperate more constructively in the readmission of their citizens, as well as the possibilities available to us in other areas, development and trade arrangements for example," he said.

It would be useful to supplement initiatives with lists of safe third countries and safe countries of origin which would make it easier for the relevant services to swiftly make decisions on asylum or returns, Božinović added.

In concluding readmission agreements, priority should be given to countries of origin, the ministry said, adding that Božinović also pointed to the problem of transit countries.

Croatia supported strengthening cooperation with North African states in all areas that can contribute to strengthening stability in Africa, which would then facilitate dealing with the root causes of migrations towards the EU, the ministry said.

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

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Croatia Has Lowest Share of Women Managers in EU

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - Croatia is at the bottom of the EU ranking of women at management level and women in the EU are still far from being men's equals, according to an Eurostat report.

The COVID-19 pandemic "has led to unprecedented changes in the workplace," Eurostat said, but data on men and women at management level continue to reveal familiar patterns.

"While both women and men bring different qualities to crisis management, women remain outnumbered at the management level," Eurostat said.

"In Q3 2020, more than 9.5 million people held a managerial position in the EU: 6.2 million men and 3.3 million women. Although women represent almost half of all employed persons in the EU (46%), they are under-represented amongst managers (34%)."

In the past 20 years, the share of women in managerial postions "has gradually increased from just below 30% in Q2 2002."

Latvia and Poland on top

Latvia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia have the highest shares of women managers, with Latvia recording the highest share in Q3 2020 (45%), followed by Poland (44%).

Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia and Sweden are next, each with a 42% share.

Above the EU average are Ireland, Romania, Finland, Estonia, Spain, France, Portugal, Slovakia and Lithuania, their shares of women managers ranging from 38 to 35%.

In Denmark and Germany, less than one in three managers were women according to data for Q4 2019. 

"At the opposite end of the scale, women account for only around a quarter of managers in Croatia (24%), the Netherlands (26%) and Cyprus (27%)," Eurostat said.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

3 in 4 Croats Aged 20 to 64 to be in Work Under 2030 Employment Target

ZAGREB, 6 March, 2021 - Croatia's 2030 employment target is to have 75% of adults in work, and currently only two thirds  (66%) of the adult population are employed, the Večernji List daily reported on Saturday.

The current Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union is organising a summit meeting on social affairs in May, and the EU is supposed to endorse new goals in this sector which should be accomplished until the end of this decade.

One of the goals is that at least 78 of 100 people aged 20 to 64 should be in employment by the end of this decade.

Three of four Croats aged between 20-64 to be employed

It is up to each member state to define its targets, and Zagreb plans to have three fifths people in the 20-64 age cohort in employment until 2030. For this target to be met, the country should create new 200,000 jobs in the coming years.

Currently, only Greece and Italy fare worse than Croatia in this regard, where only three fifths of adults (60%) are employed.

Sweden tops the EU ranking with 82 out of 100 adults being employed, and Germany follows with 80%.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Dalmatian Bacon Joins Prosciutto With European Protection

February 16, 2021 – Pršut tends to hog the limelight when people discuss Croatia's mastery of preserving pig, but prosciutto is far from the whole story. Croatian bacon is the best bacon in the world! Having now attained EU-protection, Dalmatian bacon looks set to rightly become the next most famous export of traditional pork produce from the region.

If you've visited Croatia – perhaps, even if you haven't – you'll have tried or at least heard of its famous prosciutto. Known locally as pršut, this dry-cured ham is a renowned delicacy. Taking pride of place at every public buffet, it is served thinly sliced, usually uncooked and savoured simply alongside bread, cheese, wine and olives. It is enthusiastically imported from Croatia across Europe and no less than four Croatian prosciutti from different regions are protected at an EU-level. But, pršut is not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's mastery with preserving pig.

As well as famous sausages like Kulen, kobasica and krvavica, Croatia is also brilliant at making bacon. That's no overstatement. They are not just good at it – Croatian bacon may be the finest you will ever try.

The best bacon made in the country usually come from Dalmatia and Slavonia and is, like Dalmatian prosciutto, smoked. Though Dalmatian bacon may stand slightly in the shadows of the region's more delicate pršut, this more robust and flavoursome product is featured within a greater wealth of traditional, cooked dishes and praised by anyone who tries it.

dalmatinska-panceta-gvarilovic-lidl-263517.jpgDalmatian panceta © Gavrilovic

However, the secret of Dalmatian bacon may soon be let out of the bag. This traditionally made product has received the same EU-protection as Dalmatian prosciutto. Sometimes called slanina or panceta (even though, in Italy, the title of pancetta is usually reserved for bacon which is not smoked), Dalmatian bacon was protected at a national level in 2019, the first steps required in order for it to apply for a similar classification within the EU. Confirmation of its EU-awarded protection was announced by the Croatian Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday 16 February 2021

Dalmatian bacon is salted by hand, pressed and smoked. Unlike bacon available in other countries, Dalmatian bacon is only ever that which is elsewhere called 'streaky' bacon, as opposed to 'back bacon'. It is made from pork belly and chest. It has belts of whitish fat running along its length, which carry a substantial amount of flavour. Its traditional salting and smoking process are so thorough that it can be eaten raw, uncooked and is regularly enjoyed in this way.

Dalmatian bacon is aided in its preservation by low winter air temperatures and in its drying by seasonal winds.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Will Croatian EU Membership Help it Recover from Crisis More Easily?

As Adriano Milovan/Novac writes on the 8th of April, 2020, rather surprisingly, the Republic of Croatia is among the more resilient countries and economies in terms of risks and shocks, the research of insurance company FM Global shows. Could Croatian EU membership also help it to emerge from various forms of crisis more easily?

According to the survey, which included 130 countries worldwide, the Croatian economy ranked 37th in the world in terms of resistance to shocks. According to the calculations of FM Global experts, Croatia is even better ranked than Slovenia, which is ranked 42nd in terms of economic resilience, and is slightly lower than Hungary, which ranked 35th. The Croatian economy, according to the research, is more resistant to shocks than the economy of neighbouring Serbia, which is ranked 63rd, or the economy of another neighbour - Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is ranked a concerning 70th. Croatia also ranked better than Bulgaria, which ranked 45th, and Romania, which has been ranked 36th, is slightly better than us in this survey.

FM Global's research refers more specifically to last year, and it analyses various forms of risk for individual national economies - from political, to economic to natural risks. This insurance company, they say, is primarily a tool that should help the management of companies in making business decisions, including investments.

The study, therefore, doesn't directly address the resilience of world economies to the impact of the current unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. However, as the international media and Croatian analysts point out, the report could also look into the recovery dynamics of the Croatian economy once the coronavirus crisis has ended.

Of course, there are a lot of question marks throughout the story, given that this is a shock that the world, and one that even the historically unlucky Croatia has not yet encountered. Questions have been raised as to how long the coronavirus-induced crisis will last, as well as what its consequences could be. But, the economists Novac spoke with hope that Croatia will still emerge from the coronavirus recession more quickly than it did during last recession, in which the country spent six very long years. The reason is simple: Croatian EU membership, a badge which gives it the opportunity to make greater use of money from European Union funds, and makes it subject to the rules of conduct of the Union.

''Today, Croatia is in a different situation than it was in back in 2008 and 2009. The EU has forced the government to stabilise public finances, and much has been done in this regard, with interest rates lower today than at the beginning of the last crisis. In addition, this time, the government reacted swiftly and adopted packages of measures for businesses. Therefore, the chances of a faster recovery today are certainly higher than they were during the last crisism'' says Damir Novotny, a reputable economic analyst.

He added that Croatian EU membership is particularly important here, which certainly strengthens the overall resilience of the Croatian economy. Because of all this, Novotny believes, the prospects for the recovery of the Croatian economy are much better today than they were when the last recession hit the country.

This does not mean, however, that once the coronavirus crisis is over, that recovery will go smoothly and quickly. For starters, Croatia depends very much on tourism, and this year's tourist season can already be considered lost. This means that tourism recovery, which generates a fifth of Croatia's gross domestic product (GDP), can only be expected next year. Furthermore, Novotny warned, Croatia has also entered a new crisis with the same problem as in the last recession - the country's infamous, draconian, cumbersome, inefficient and ubiquitous public sector.

He therefore proposes that Croatia does what the Baltic countries did at the beginning of last recession, and embark on rapid public sector reform. This, he noted, would open up space for the private sector, which would make it easier to get access to the money needed and speed up the recovery of the Croatian economy.

Macroeconomist Goran Šaravanja also believes that Croatia's recovery from the crisis could be much quicker than it was in the last recession. He sees the biggest asset to that precisely in Croatian EU membership.

''Croatia's risk perception is lower today. You can see that when we compare ourselves with countries not yet in the EU, like Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina: they're not yet under the EU umbrella and don't have access to such large EU funds as we do, nor are they part of the common market, so, they're riskier,'' explained Šaravanja.

In addition, he added, both the Croatian state, companies, and the population have been quite dilapidated in recent years, making the situation a little easier. In addition, in the past crisis, Croatia entered a double deficit - in the current account of the balance of payments and in the state budget, and this situation has changed in recent years.

"All this will make it easier for Croatia to recover, which, without these mechanisms, would be much harder and much slower," concluded Šaravanja, adding that despite that, the country's recovery will not go either quickly or easily.

Otherwise, according to the Resilience Index, Norway, which is not an EU member state but does hold membership of the EEA has the highest resistance to risks and shocks, and Denmark is the strongest among EU member states. On the other hand, the least resilience among the countries covered by the survey was demonstrated by Haiti, coming in an unimpressive 130th place. Compared to 2018, Rwanda has experienced the biggest leap on the ladder, and Northern Macedonia has seen the biggest drop, a survey shows.

Follow our politics and business sections for more on Croatian EU membership and its effects on business.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Croats a Little Below EU Average in Terms of Spending on Holiday

Just how much do Croats spend when that glorious time of year comes around that promises time off work and in general, enjoyment and relaxation in the summer sunshine on the Adriatic coast? Eurostat explores.

As Novac writes on the 4th of September, 2019, it would appear that Luxembourgish nationals are the record-breakers in the European Union when it comes to splashing the cash when on holiday, while Croats are just below the European Union average. This has been illustrated by data for 2017 which was only just published yesterday by the European Statistical Office, Eurostat, and then transmitted by RTL.

According to these figures, Luxembourg's citizens spent an average of 769 euros on holiday two years ago, followed by the Austrians (who spend about about 641 euros) and the Maltese with about 633 euros, while the EU average stood at 377 euros.

More than 600 euros per year are spent on average by the Danes and residents of Cyprus when on holiday, while more than 500 euros are spent by the Belgians, the Germans and the Irish. The top 10 countries on who spend the most on holidays include the residents of the Netherlands and Italy.

With 320 euros typically spent on vacations, Croats are slightly below the EU average, but rank in at around the middle of this scale, which may surprise many as the economic power of Croatian citizens is, at least according official statistics, mostly at the bottom of the European Union.

Eurostat statistics for 2017 also included Norway and Switzerland, which are otherwise not member states of the European Union. According to these figures, Norwegians spend even more than the people of Luxembourg, (827 euros per vacation), while the Swiss are immediately after Luxembourg with 759 euros in average spending on holidays.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more on Croatian habits, customs, culture and of course - spending.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Croatian Representative at Top of European Water Association

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 30th of May, 2019, for the very first time since the founding of the EWA (European Water Association) back in the 1980's, a Croatian representative, Mara Pavelić, has been appointed as a member of the association's steering board.

Pavelić has been a representative of the Republic of Croatia at the EWA since 2015 when she was appointed as President of the Croatian Water Protection Society, and next year, she will represent the countries of South East Europe in order to achieve a better standard of living for the inhabitants of those countries, in regard to economic development, as well as to environmental and water protection.

"Croatia, as one of the richest countries in the world in terms of its water, has a historic opportunity and can, thanks to EU funds, preserve this wealth of water for all generations of the future. Nevertheless, without the reform of the water-communal sector, it will not be possible to realise all the investments and the goals,'' stated Mara Pavelić following her appointment. The problems of the countries of SE Europe are more diverse than those endured by developed countries, especially when it comes to water management.

"My role in the EWA is to help the countries I represent to reach the standards that advanced countries already have, and this is an opportunity to point out the current inequalities of development, but also the specificities of each country. Rich in biodiversity, wetland habitats, natural floodplains and preserved water resources, are examples of how the water industry can find ways to create more favourable living conditions for people with both nature and humanity. These are examples that we can see in Croatia and in the surrounding countries, but unfortunately in the developed EU countries, such things are almost gone,'' the new Croatian representative noted.

Otherwise, EWA brings together 24 leading European trade organisations and companies with over 50,000 water management and environmental professionals, and Pavelić is the only woman on the board of directors.

She is also the head of the Water Protection Sector in Croatian Waters (Hrvatske vode) and is in the Croatian Employers' Association's (HUP) business women's base.

"This nomination is like getting an Oscar, it's the crown of my long-term work and I've got no intentions of stopping there. Every two years there are such appointments by the board of directors and there are chances in the future for this, too," Pavelić concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

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