Friday, 5 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Energy Efficiency Can Help Adjust to Climate Change

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Economic losses in the EU due to climate change extremes amount to €12 billion annually and energy efficiency can help adjust to climate change and create jobs, not lose them, President Zoran Milanović said on Friday after meeting with representatives of Croatia's regional energy agencies.

The meeting was held at the Bračak Energy Centre in Zabok on the occasion of World Energy Efficiency Day, observed on 5 March to raise awareness of the need to reduce energy consumption and sustainable energy use, the president's office said in a press release.

In the past 13 years, together with counties, towns and municipalities, Croatia's regional energy agencies have been implementing sustainable energy use projects. Investment in clean energy exceeds HRK 1 billion.

They successfully participate in many EU projects for the energy-efficient renovation of public infrastructure, developing new business models and financial instruments, which makes them Croatia's energy transition pioneers, it was said at the meeting.

President Milanović said there was no successful adjustment to climate change without energy efficiency and that the climate crisis was potentially the biggest global crisis of the future.

"The experience in achieving renewable and efficient energy and climate protection in Croatia, which regional energy agencies already have, is a good example to all in Croatia at local as well as national level that we can and must do even better when it comes to energy efficiency. Our children must go to better schools, the buildings we live in should be both safe and energy-efficient, our cities deserve to become smart in terms of energy," he said after the meeting.

"The economic losses in the EU due to weather and climate extremes already amount to €12 billion annually. Energy efficiency is what can help us to adjust to climate change, not to lose jobs but create them, raising the standard of living of us all," he added.

Croatia has five regional energy agencies which employ 70 experts while the EU has 350, some of which have been active more than 40 years.

There are four million green jobs in the EU today, including 1.4 million in the production of energy from renewables and over 900,000 in energy efficiency activities, said Julije Domac, the president's energy and climate advisor.

"That's what we should focus on. Croatia has the know-how, as evidenced by the fact that Croatian energy agencies regularly coordinate European development projects, provide services to the European Commission and are active across the European Union. Today it's important that each of us know that energy efficiency means better for them, for Croatia, and then for Earth," he added.

Friday, 5 March 2021

No Restrictions on Aid to Enterprises, Says Daily Paper Jutarnji List

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Brussels will leave it to Zagreb to decide on how to distribute money from the EU Recovery Fund, the Friday issue of the Jutarnji List daily reports, noting that there are no restrictions on aid to enterprises. 

There are no strict limits in drafting the national recovery and resilience plan, through which around HRK 45 billion of EU funds will be made available to Croatia to help it recover from the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of how much funds can be allocated for public investments and how much for private investments, as there is no such distinction in EU regulations.

This conclusion is based on a reply from the European Commission, after the Croatian Employers' Association asked that at least 50% of the available money be disbursed in direct grants for investments by the private sector, instead of spending most of the HRK 45 billion on investments in the public sector.

According to an interpretation presented earlier by Croatian negotiators and published by Jutarnji List, entrepreneurs would have access, through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, to direct grants and loan subsidies and guarantees in the maximum amount of HRK 4.5 billion, or only 10% of the available amount. In citing the amount, Croatian negotiators referred to restrictions imposed by the EC.

Zvonimir Savić, PM Andrej Plenković's advisor and national coordinator for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, has nonetheless said that around 30% of the HRK 45 billion could end up in the private sector, if one takes into account the involvement of businesses in planned public projects, from research and development, energy transition and development of innovative tourism to stronger food supply chains, the daily says.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula: Croatia Not interfering In Bosnia's Affairs, Expects Greater EU Involvement

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Croatian member of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, Tonino Picula, on Wednesday dismissed claims that Croatia was interfering in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs, saying that Croatia had obligations under the Dayton peace agreement.

Speaking in an interview with the Dnevnik news website based in the southern Bosnia and Herzegovina city of Mostar, Picula said that Croatia was accused, almost on a daily basis, of interfering in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs. He recalled that Croatia was a signatory to the Dayton agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country and had an obligation to ensure that the agreement was honoured.

"Unfortunately, we often see political structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina using Croatia to achieve their political points and divert attention from their own problems," the Croatian MEP said.  He, however, added that Croatian institutions and officials should exercise restraint in their communications with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In its relationship with the Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia should maintain a positive interest with political restraint, taking care that it promotes what will encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue on its EU path," Picula said.

He said that the EU should be more dedicated to the Western Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "As the foreign policy coordinator of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, I have continually pointed out the need for the Union and its external policy to win recognition in its nearest neighbourhood."

Picula expressed an expectation that Bosnian politicians would agree on changes to electoral legislation that would satisfy both individual and collective rights, which is important for the country's further journey towards EU membership. He stressed that this would include amending the Dayton agreement.

"The existing arrangements under the Dayton agreement are obviously preventing the country's progress, but the international community will not support any solution that deviates from the principle of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single country," the Croatian MEP said.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

BiH Official Condemns Removal of EU Flag from Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Minister Bisera Turković on Sunday condemned an incident in which an EU flag was torn down from the Croatian Embassy building in Sarajevo, describing it as an act of vandalism and calling on police to investigate it as soon as possible.

"This act of vandalism is unacceptable, it does not represent the views of the majority of our citizens and it has no place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are firmly committed to membership in the EU as well as to promoting good neighbourly relations with Croatia based on mutual respect and understanding," Turković said.

She added that she expected the competent institutions to investigate the incident as soon as possible.

The Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo earlier in the day sent a protest note to the BiH Foreign Ministry over the incident.

The European Union flag on the building housing the Croatian embassy in Sarajevo was torn down and left lying in the street between 11 p.m. and midnight Saturday.

The Croatian flag on the embassy building was not damaged.

The Ministry of the Interior of Sarajevo Canton said police were looking for the perpetrator.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Croatian Embassy Sarajevo Attacked Again Last Night

January 31, 2021 – The Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo was last night again the target of an aggressive act. The flag of the European Union, which hung above the entrance, was ripped from its mounting and left lying on the ground in the darkened street

The Croatian Embassy Sarajevo was attacked last night. Zagreb-based media Vecernji List learned the news from their sister title in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A wall mounting that jointly held poles carrying both the Croatian flag and the flag of the European Union were the focus of the attack. Someone tried to rip the metal mounting from the wall on the outside of the Croatian Embassy Sarajevo. This is not the first time the Croatian Embassy in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been targeted.

Croatian_embassy_Sarajevo.jpegThe Croatian Embassy in Sarajevo © Miłosz Pieńkowski

It could have been mindless vandalism, drunken idiocy, politically motivated – or even all three. The Croatian Embassy lies in the very heart of Sarajevo. It is situated just north of the river Miljacka and in the same quarter of the city as the building for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other government and municipal buildings, the Sarajevo National Theatre and is just across the park from the embassies of France and Austria. There are several cafes, bars, fast food restaurants and pubs close by. It is a popularly frequented part of the city at night. Unlike Croatia, businesses selling food, alcohol and other drinks are currently open. Sarajevo city centre is alive at night.

Screenshot_140.png

The damage caused to the Croatian Embassy was minimal. The wall mounting was damaged but held firm, as did the pole carrying the Croatian flag. The pole carrying the flag of the European Union fared less well – it snapped under the force of the aggression and was completely prized from the mounting. Last night the pole and the flag of the European Union were left lying on the darkened pavement outside the Croatian Embassy, immediately in front of the doorway above which it previously hung.

An investigation is underway and police are searching for the culprits.

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Friday, 22 January 2021

Plenković: EU Must Insist on Agreements Reached with Pharmaceutical Companies

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - The European Council agrees that the EU must insist on the agreements reached with pharmaceutical companies on the quantities and deliveries of vaccines against coronavirus, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"We have asked the European Commission president to insist in talks with Pfizer and Moderna, and hopefully soon with AstraZeneca as well, on the agreed quantities of vaccine and dynamics of delivery so that people can be vaccinated as soon as possible," Plenković told a press conference in Zagreb following a virtual conference of the European Council on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night.

Croatia started administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after Christmas, while Moderna's vaccine arrived last week and the initial shipment was sent to the earthquake-devastated Petrinja area. The European Medicines Agency is expected to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine on 29 January.

"It is fascinating that processes that otherwise take 10 years were finalised within a year and that we, not just Croatia but the EU and all countries in the world as well, were able to get a vaccine for a new disease so quickly," Plenković said.

He said that many EU leaders had expressed concern about new strains of the coronavirus, including a more contagious one in the United Kingdom.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Conservative and Anti-EU MEPs Voted Against Croatia Earthquake Aid

January 22, 2021 – With near neighbours and far friends answering the call to assist Croatia following the Sisak Moslavina earthquake, you might have expected a unanimous vote to help the country when assistance was debated in the European parliament. But, a 'shameful six' of conservative and anti-EU MEPs voted against Croatia earthquake aid or abstained

Though the world economy is still reeling from almost a year of retraction in response to the pandemic, international support for Croatia following the shattering 29 December earthquake in Sisak Moslavina was still forthcoming. Croatia-based ambassadors from Japan and Canada went to visit the affected area themselves, the latter country organised a significant donation. As did Serbia and other neighbours.

Croatia's partners in the European Union not only responded individually but collectively. The European Parliament passed a resolution to help Croatia after the earthquake. 683 MEPs voted in the resolution, with a magnanimous 677 of them voting in favour. However unbelievable it might be, 5 anti-EU MEPs voted against Croatia earthquake aid and one more abstained. All six were Conservative and Anti-EU/anti-federalist MEPs.

The resolution was introduced in order to help provide aid and to rebuild the area of Sisak, Petrinja and Glina, affected by the 29 December earthquake, but also Zagreb. It proposed that under such extraordinary circumstances that befell Croatia in 2020, the help of the European Union was needed.

Only a 'shameful six' of Conservative and anti-EU MEPs voted against Croatia earthquake aid or abstained. Swedish MEPs Peter Lundgren, Jessica Stegrud and Charlie Weimers, members of the anti-federalist party of European Conservatives and Reformists, were three of the anti-EU MEPs voted against Croatia earthquake aid.

Dutch right-winger Marcel de Graaff – co-president alongside France's Marine Le Pen of the Europe of Nations and Freedom voting block in the EU – was the last of the anti-EU MEPs voted against Croatia earthquake aid. Spanish conservative Isabel Benjumea joined him in voting against the measures. Belgian right-wing and anti-immigration MEP Philip De Man, a member of the Identity and Democracy voting group, abstained.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Brexit Brits in Croatia: Withdrawal Agreement Residence Explainer

December the 14th, 2020 - A clear and concise guide for Brexit Brits in Croatia wanting to make sure they retain all of the rights they have afforded to them being nationals of the EEA as the UK withdraws from the bloc. I want to apologise in advance for the sheer length of this article, but in order to set out everything needed, there was no way to make it shorter.

The UK's transition period is quickly coming to an end. The UK might have formally left the European Union on the 1st of February, 2020, but all EU law will continue to apply to the Northern European island nation until the 1st of January, 2021. After that, the laws of the bloc's instutions will cease to apply. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the rights of citizens, both those of the EU living in the UK and those of the UK living in the EU, providing clarity in the very heart of the mother of all messes. Here is the Ministry of the Interior's latest advice to Brexit Brits in Croatia.

THE WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT

As stated, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ceased to be a member state of the EU in an orderly manner upon entry into force of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (the Withdrawal Agreement).

The aforementioned Agreement determines a transition period until the 31st of December 2020, during which time British nationals and their third country family members continue to remain subject to current European Union law.

The Croatian Act on amendments to the Act on EEA nationals and their family members, which has been forwarded to the Croatian Parliament to face legislative procedure, will legally lay down the implementation of the part of the Withdrawal Agreement related to regulating the residence status of British nationals and their third country family members after the transition period ends at midnight on the 31st of December, 2020.

The aforementioned amendments will lay down clear rules for the procedure of applying for temporary or permanent residence for British nationals and the issuance of their subsequent residence permits, as well as the issuance of the necessary documents to frontier workers who will need special permits.

A DECLARATORY RESIDENCE SCHEME, NOT A NEW APPLICATION

The residence status of British nationals and their family members will be regulated pursuant to Article 18, paragraph 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, which sets out a declaratory scheme only. This is extremely important to emphasise. You can freely find the corresponding article (PDF form) within the Withdrawal Agreement here, but to save you the bother of scrolling, I have included the most relevant information below in italic font:

4. Where a host State has chosen not to require Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals, their family members, and other persons, residing in its territory in accordance with the conditions set out in this Title, to apply for the new residence status referred to in paragraph 1 as a condition for legal residence, those eligible for residence rights under this Title shall have the right to receive, in accordance with the conditions set out in Directive 2004/38/EC, a residence document, which may be in a digital form, that includes a statement that it has been issued in accordance with this Agreement.

I need to quickly state that there is more information to be accessed under this Article which details more specific circumstances, but putting it all here isn't necessary, I provided a link to the Withdrawal Agreement in PDF form above should you wish to read further and in more detail.

Accordingly, British nationals and their third country family members who are subject to the Withdrawal Agreement will not be obligated to apply for a new residence status as a requirement for their legal stay in Croatia. Rather, a declaratory system will be applied on the basis of which British nationals and their family members will have a residence status on the basis of the very fact that they meet the conditions laid down in the Agreement and will continue to have the said status for as long as they meet these conditions. This means that their residence status is not subject to the constitutive decision of the competent authority.

REGISTERING AND THE ISSUANCE OF NEW RESIDENCE PERMITS

All the beneficiaries of the Agreement (Articles 9 and 10 of the Withdrawal Agreement) will have the possibility of registering their residence status given to them. After the procedure is concluded, they will be issued with residence permits confirming their new status. The registration procedure will apply to all persons regardless of whether they have regulated their residence status in the past on the basis of their EU-given right to the freedom of movement at a competent police administration/police station before the 31st of December 2020.

In addition to the relevant documents submitted for registration (depending on whether the British nationals and their family members in question held temporary or permanent residence in Croatia before the 31st of December 2020), the continuity of residence (Articles 11 and 15 (2) of the Withdrawal Agreement) and the condition of further stay in the Republic of Croatia will need to be determined as well.

The procedure for the registration of a new residence status will be simpler for the beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement who already hold either temporary or permanent residence before the end of the transition period, as opposed to those persons who fail to do so by the said date.

REGISTRATION DEADLINES

It will be possible to submit applications at the competent police administrations/police stations according to the location of residence starting from the 1st of January 2021. The current deadline by which all beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement will be able to apply is the 30th of June 2021. It will still be possible to submit applications after this deadline, however, the beneficiaries of the Agreement who do so might be fined for committing an administrative offense.

During the technical issuance of new residence permits, all beneficiaries will have to provide their biometric data. In accordance with the Proposal for the Act, previously issued residence permits will cease to be valid on the 1st of January 2021.

FRONTIER WORKERS

For the purposes of the Withdrawal Agreement, a frontier worker is a British national who has pursued an economic activity as a frontier worker in one or several EU member states in which they don't reside, and who continues to pursue this economic activity even after the 31st of December 2020. Frontier workers will be able to apply for the issuance of a document confirming their rights as a frontier worker. Much like with residence permits, it will be possible to submit applications at the competent police administrations/police stations according to the location of work starting from the 1st of January 2021.

EU LAW JARGON BUSTER

British citizens who already hold temporary or permanent residence in Croatia (those who hold the status or will be granted it under EU law before the 31st of December, 2020) will continue to be able to exercise that right.

Although all Brexit Brits in Croatia can legally remain and must register for a new document, differences will be made between existing permanent residents and temporary residents.

The new system is of a declaratory nature, it is not a brand new application for a new residence status. It is identity confirmation to prove that you are entitled to these acquired rights and nothing more.

You must register for your new status before the 30th of June, 2021 if you are within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement (if you held residence in Croatia before the end of the transition period), if you fail to do so, you could face a fine.

The new residence document/card/permit Brexit Brits in Croatia who are within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement will receive will state ''Nositelj prava čl. 75. st. 1. Zakona EGP'' (Holder of the right of Article 75 point 1 of the Law on the EEA) as opposed to the current EGP (Europski Gospodarski Prostor/European Economic Area).

The Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that those who hold permanent residence in an EU country can leave for up to five consecutive years without losing any of their rights in their host state. This includes Croatia.

This is a detailed article on residence for Brexit Brits in Croatia only, for more on driving licenses, healthcare and crossing the EU's external border, click here for the British Embassy's advice. Sign up for email alerts from the British Government's Living in Croatia page, follow the British Embassy on Facebook here, and keep up with MUP in English language here.

With due thanks to MUP, Zakon.hr and Europa.eu

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Domestic Tourism Hints at Recovery from Corona Crisis - Eurostat

ZAGREB, October 29, 2020 - Domestic tourism in the European Union has seen a faster recovery from the consequences of the first wave of the epidemic than foreign tourism, and Croatia is among countries with the mildest drop in domestic overnight stays, according to Eurostat data.

In 2020, the tourism sector was hit hard by the travel restrictions at the end of Q1 and at the beginning of Q2, which resulted in a sharp drop in the number of tourists in March and April compared to the same period last year.

In June, most countries started to relax the restrictions, but tourists still had to undergo quarantine after returning from some foreign destinations, and the result was a faster recovery of domestic tourism than of foreign tourism, Eurostat said.

After a 93% slump in April, domestic tourism in the EU came closer to last year's level in July, with a 22% decrease in domestic overnights stay in tourist accommodation. Overnight stays of foreign guests dropped by 64%, according to Eurostat.

 

Biggest jump in Slovenia

The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia registered more domestic overnight stays in July 2020 than in July 2019. In Slovenia, their number more than doubled.

In Croatia, the number of domestic overnight stays in July 2020 was 8.1% lower than in July 2019. The number of overnight stays of foreign guests fell by 44.6% compared to July last year.

This placed Croatia among EU countries with the mildest drop in overnight stays by domestic and foreign guests, together with Cyprus, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Austria and Latvia.

The biggest drop in the number of foreign visitors, of over 80%, was registered by Spain, Portugal, Finland and Romania, the report by the Europan statistical office has shown.

Friday, 16 October 2020

EU Preparing CAP Reform, Croatia Expects to Get €5bn

ZAGREB, October 16, 2020 - The new reform of the European agricultural policy is aimed at ensuring sustainable production of high-quality food at affordable prices and with as less red tape as possible and keeping young people in rural areas. Croatia could profit from this by being allocated €5 billion.

The European Parliament meets in a plenary session next week to discuss the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is expected to become effective in 2023.

Parliament will adopt its position on negotiations with the Council of the EU on three key issues - support to strategic plans being developed by member states, financing and monitoring, and the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products.

According to Eurostat, there were 10.5 million agricultural holdings in the EU in 2016, 95% of which were family farms and nearly a third of their owners were aged 65 and over.

Speaking about the reform at an online news conference, MEP Suncana Glavak of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that aside from the proposed allocation of close to five billion euros for Croatia for agriculture and rural development in the next seven-year period, it was also agreed that the rate of co-financing for rural development would be raised from 70 to 85% for underdeveloped regions.

MEP Ruza Tomasic of the Croatian Conservative Party warned that insufficient generational renewal was one of the bigger challenges in the farm sector and the reason why the number of farmers was decreasing every year. She pointed to the importance of developing rural tourism as a significant contribution to rural economy and generational renewal.

Tomasic also underlined the importance of encouraging technological innovation that could bring about change in the farm sector.

As for the common organisation of the agricultural market, she said that it was necessary to ensure fast implementation of measures to deal with market disruptions adapted to a specific situation, such as the current coronavirus crisis.

The Common Agricultural Policy should improve the work of Croatian farmers, but Croatia must find a way to absorb EU money fast, efficiently and transparently, she said.

In recent years agricultural production in Croatia has been registering declines in almost all sectors due to excessive cheap imports and low purchasing power.

According to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, agricultural production in Croatia has decreased by 26% in the last five years, from around HRK 21 billion in 2012 to around HRK 17 billion in 2019.

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