Thursday, 3 June 2021

45,000 EU Digital Covid Certificates Issued in Croatia So Far

June 3, 2021 - There have been 45,000 EU digital COVID certificates issued in Croatia so far. 

All Croatian citizens who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have a negative test, or have recovered from COVID-19 in less than six months can get their digital covid-certificates now, reports Dalmacija Danas

Citizens can get certificates in printed or electronic form, proving that they have received one of the vaccines registered in the European Union, through the portal e-Citizens or in one of the branches of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute throughout Croatia, except at five HZZO locations - and in Zagreb where certificates are not issued: Margaretska, Mihanovićeva, Kruge, Ivekovićeva, and Branimirova.

Croatia is the first EU member state to establish a system for issuing EU digital covid certificates. Together with Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland, it has linked up with the EU's accession to verify the authenticity of certificates.

More than 45,000 covid certificates were issued in Croatia yesterday, of which 90 percent are with vaccinations. Of these, only 4,000 certificates were requested and issued in paper form.

“All citizens who have been vaccinated according to the vaccination program adopted by the Croatian Institute of Public Health must be registered in the central register of vaccinated persons, which is the basis for issuing a digital COVID vaccination certificate. If it turns out that one of the vaccinated citizens is not in the register, we ask them to contact the doctor or health institution where the vaccination was performed with a card and a certificate of vaccination to make a subsequent enrollment of citizens in the list of vaccinated persons," said the Ministry of Health.

Namely, the largest number of citizens who have received the vaccine so far are registered in the central register of vaccinated persons and can easily obtain their COVID certificates in a very short time. However, for various reasons, part of the citizens remained unregistered or registered with incomplete or incorrect data, making it impossible to issue certificates promptly.

As of yesterday, citizens also have the opportunity to check for themselves on the Health Portal whether their vaccination data have been recorded correctly. The fastest way to eliminate these problems is to direct citizens to doctors and institutions where the vaccination was performed. Only the doctor who performed the vaccination is authorized to enter data on the vaccinated person or another doctor of the health institution.

Also, some citizens ask for additional information to obtain a COVID-certificate of recovery, so it should be emphasized that it is issued to a person who has suffered from COVID-19 on the 11th day from the date of the first positive PCR test recorded in the system. Such confirmation shall be valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive PCR test recorded in the system. A certificate of illness is not issued based on a rapid antigen test, as established by the proposal for regulating the EU digital covid-certificates.

Under the Decision of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia amending the Decision on temporary prohibition and restriction of border crossings of the Republic of Croatia from 1 June 2021, entry into the Republic of Croatia is also possible for persons unable to exercise digital covid confirmation in the following cases:

- by presenting a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 and receiving a single dose of vaccine within six months of the onset of COVID-19, and vaccination carried out less than 180 days ago,

- by presenting a positive rapid antigen test (listed on the Joint List of EU Member States) confirming that the person has recovered from SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, with the test performed 180 days ago and older than 11 days from the date of arrival at the border crossing or upon presentation of a medical certificate issued by a doctor, determination of self-isolation upon arrival in the Republic of Croatia and for a period of 10 days or until receiving the results of a negative test.

At the European Union level, there are continuous discussions on digital covid-certification, and adjustments are possible in the digital covid-certificate at the EU level, depending on current scientific knowledge and consensus of the profession. Also, like Croatia, each member state can bring additional conditions for entry into its territory that are not covered by the digital covid-certificate, which are then confirmed by presenting appropriate medical documentation when crossing the border.

For all, you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Croatian Coast Is No Longer Red On The ECDC Map

June 3rd, 2021 - The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has released an updated corona map of Europe and the Croatian coast is no longer red!

Jutarnji reports, as seen on the map, the Croatian coast is no longer marked in red, according to the ECDC coronavirus traffic lights system. This is great news for Croatian tourism, just in time for the summer season. Namely, the ECDC map, as far as European tourists are concerned, is considered the most relevant indicator of the safety of a particular destination.

The color chart shows the 14-day incidence of coronavirus in each European country per 100,000 inhabitants. 

The Croatian coast is marked in yellow on the updated map, just like most of Europe. The northern part of Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and a large part of Spain and France, the extreme south of Italy, and the Benelux countries are still marked in red. 

The map was posted on the official ECDC Twitter account along with a color-blind version of the map. 

The daily number of Croatia cases, specifically along the coast, has decreased, and with the vaccination rolling out, Croatia is confident to have a better season and welcome more tourists than last year. 

To check out a more detailed look into the Covid-19 situation by counties and islands in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

For all, you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović : Croatia's Schengen membership in interest of EU

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that Croatia's entry to the passport-free Schengen Area was in the national interest as well as in the interest of the European Union.

Earlier on Wednesday the European Commission called for the enlargement of the Schengen area to include Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, which have met all technical criteria for membership.

"Schengen's future must be marked by the expansion to those EU Member States that are not yet part of the Schengen area," the EC said while presenting the strategy for making the Schengen area stronger and more resilient.

Božinović recalled that Croatia had met 281 requirements in eight different segments concerning the membership criteria.

The minister is confident that Croatia will be admitted to the Schengen area in the next 12 months.

He said that he was glad to see that in Europe awareness was being raised about the importance of accession of Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

40,000 EU Digital COVID certificates issued in Croatia since first day of issuance

Since yesterday, when the issuance of EU Digital COVID certificates started in Croatia, as many as 40,000 such travel passes have been issued.

Božinović said that Croatia was among the first EU countries to make this system operational.

The minister, who visited the Bregana border crossing to get acquainted with the functioning of the system of checking those certificates, said that it took only 10 seconds to check those certificates.

One million kuna has been invested in this project, which included IT solutions, the necessary equipment of border crossings to be able to read the codes from the certificates, and other equipment for the Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO), he said.

Croatia tapped EU funds for this purpose, Božinović said at Bregana.

ENTER Croatia application available to people travelling to Croatia

The minister said that people traveling to Croatia can fill in the ENTER Croatia application which will also facilitate passage across the border.

New, relaxed rules for arrivals in Croatia

As of today, some relaxed rules go into force for arrivals in Croatia, including a negative PCR test for coronavirus not older than 72 hours, while travellers who have received at least one vaccine dose at least 22 days before their arrival do not need to self-isolate.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

EU Digital COVID Certificates in Croatia are LIVE! Here's How to Get One

June 1, 2021 - EU digital COVID certificates in Croatia are LIVE! Here's a look at what you need to do to get one. 

As of today, the EU digital covid certificates in Croatia are live, or what you may know better as the Covid passport. The Croatian government set up a national certification system on Monday, which began operating on Tuesday,  report Jutarnji List

"The Croatian national system for issuing the EU digital COVID certificate is ready for operation on June 1 and the integration procedure with the European gateway has been carried out, which ensured their cross-border interoperability," they announced in a statement yesterday.

A website has also been launched where citizens can get all the necessary information. But the process of issuing a Covid certificate is actually quite simple; you can request it through the e-Citizens system (eGrađani) or at HZZO branches. Regardless of the version, the certificate will contain a QR code with basic information and a digital stamp to ensure the authenticity of the certificate.

How to access the certification system?

You can access the system for issuing EU digital COVID certificates via the website www.eudigitalnacovidpotvrda.hr via the link REQUEST A CERTIFICATE at the top of the website (see header photo). You can also access the system directly via the e-Citizens (eGrađani) page by selecting the HEALTH area from the service catalog. In this area, select the EU Digital COVID Certificate e-Service and follow the application steps.

What documents do you need to download the certificate from the e-Citizens (eGrađani) portal?

Apart from level 2 credentials - significant security levels or level 3 credentials - high-security credentials, it is not necessary to provide additional data and documentation to access the e-Citizens (eGrađani) portal. The system retrieves user data from the databases of the Ministry of Health and the confirmation is generated by clicking on the option "Request confirmation".

You can save the confirmation that you download via the portal to your computer, print it out, or send it by e-mail to your e-mail address.

How to apply through e-Citizens (eGrađani)?

In case you decide to get the certificate through the eCitizens system, you must first submit a request by entering your OIB and e-mail address to which the COVID certificate will be delivered in PDF format.

After that, a request will be created for you, and in the e-Citizens system, you can check what its status is, i.e., whether it is still being processed or is ready.

Once you meet the criteria for issuing a certificate, the info will arrive at your e-mail address. 

Can the certificate be used via mobile phone?

You can save the certificate in the form of a PDF file and present it to the person responsible for reading the QR code and other important data. The EU digital COVID certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature for protection against forgery, which is based on the ICAO PKI specifications. When checking the certificate, the QR code is scanned and the digital signature is checked.

How will this help you freely move?

In addition to facilitating the movement of citizens when crossing the border crossings of the Republic of Croatia and border crossings of EU member states with which bilateral agreements will be concluded, this certificate can be used for other purposes in accordance with decisions that could be made in the foreseeable future.

The Government notes that the certificate will be used in accordance with data protection regulations and exclusively for downloading and processing the data contained in the certificate.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

New Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević: Sandra Benčić (Mozemo!) On First Moves

June 1, 2021 - With the new Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević soon coming to the office, Sandra Benčić of the green-left platform Mozemo! (We Can!) spoke to Index.hr about the first moves of the new administration.

Following intense post-first round campaigns in Zagreb for the second round of local elections, Tomislav Tomašević is the new mayor of Zagreb. Additionally, Tomašević's green-left coalition Mozemo! earned 23 seats in the City's assembly, and if the previously announced support of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that has five, Mozemo! will have the majority in the assembly. 

The new mayor is expected to take his seat by the end of this week, and as Index.hr reports, Sandra Benčić, the Mozemo! MP says that ZG Holding chief and directors can be removed from their position immediately.

However, first and foremost, the earthquake damages seem to be taking the lead.

„The most urgent thing is to prepare documentation for the reconstructions of kindergartens, schools, and institutions in the city ownership that were damaged in the earthquake. We have to do that as fast as possible because the deadline to pull money from the EU Solidarity Fund is June 2022. I'm afraid there will be a fiasco regarding how much will the State pull from the fund, but we can only take the money for estates in the city property, and the damaged kindergartens and schools are our priority“, told Benčić for Index.hr

She added that they plan to start an Office for Zagreb Reconstruction and establish mobile teams which will help citizens to fill in documentation and requests for the reconstruction of damaged homes.

Regarding the statement about the fiasco with the State pulling money from Solidarity Fund, the conflict with the government was sparked yesterday when PM Andrej Plenković talked to the press regarding Tomašević's victory. He said he didn't congratulate Tomašević yet, but he will and that he expects good cooperation.

„I see that Mozemo! is paraphrasing my message from 2016 when I said that we are changing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) so we can change Croatia. They say they are changing Zagreb to change Croatia. Clearly, they have something against this Croatia“, said Plenković, sparking controversy.

And Benčić is not the one to remain silent on such statements.

„Yes, we do have something against this kind of HDZ and evening HDZ with the State. They are not the State but an interest group that trapped our country. We want to see the country returns to all its citizens and that, of course, hurts them to the level that the prime minister allows himself these kinds of statements which, if they weren't malice, would be at minimal, unsmart“, said Benčić.

With the biggest number of votes in the history of mayoral elections in Zagreb, Benčić continues they are ready to justify this trust, and they start with work immediately.

„We are going with the financial revision of City's administration, restructuring City offices. We will do it step by step and connect offices while ensuring that functions and services need to deliver to the citizens. It should be noted that Zagreb used to have fewer offices, 17 until 2000 and then offices start to grow exponentially, only to put politically suited people to positions and raise their payments“, explained Benčić.

 And the new Mayor Tomislav Tomašević also gave an interview on Monday. As Jutarnji List reported, Tomašević also talked about his plans to improve Zagreb and fulfill his promises, particularly with so many earned votes.

„This big trust is also a big responsibility. Citizens can expect that we will lead by example from the start. The city administration and authority will be based on three things: decency, modesty, and being at the citizen's service.

He also added that Mozemo! is considering filing a lawsuit against Miroslav Škoro for the filthy instigating campaign, as Tomašević and many other public figures described it.

„I wouldn't like this to happen to anyone anymore on any other elections in Croatia, regardless are we talking about a candidate from the right, left or center," commented Tomašević.

Although no direct link can be proved at the moment, Škoro's rhetoric could've been the fuel for the attacker that set fire to the Mozemo! election headquarters at Zagreb Contemporary Museum on the election night saying to the gathered that „they are communists“ and how he will „kill them all“, on which T-portal reported

The elections are over, but will Zagreb continue to celebrate in such a majority as it did on election night? This is something only Tomašević on his new function can answer in the following months and years.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Friday, 28 May 2021

Ionic Liquids With Solid State Nanopores: New Valuable Progress From Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB)

May 28, 2021 - A recently published study on ionic liquids with solid state nanopores at the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) can help the energy storage sector.

The top scientific and research institution in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB), continues to be the home of interesting scientific progress.

Researchers from the IRB's computer bioscience team, Nataša Vučemilović-Alagić, and dr. Mario Špadina under the mentorship of dr. Ana Sunčana Smith cleared the phenomenon of transport inside liquids on the principle of nanopores in the solid-state. A nanopore is a small cavity in solid matter, invisible to the naked eye. This IRB research was done in collaboration with dr. Sanjin Marion and dr. Aleksandra Rađenović from École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the research results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Small which specializes in nanotechnology.

Professor Ana Sunčana Smith's IRB team deals with molecular descriptions of chemical and physical interactions of ionic liquids (liquids that are not neutral but have either positive or negative electric charge) on various solid surfaces. The goal was to determine the impact of specific ions and specific surfaces. The appliance of this knowledge is in line with guidelines of the EU Green Deal, and the UN sustainable development goals", explained IRB in the official press release.

The press release added this knowledge is useful in storing energy, as ionic liquids in nanopores represent an alternative to batteries.

„In this research, starting from the principle of water solutions, we combine ionic fluids and nanopores of different geometric features and materials to secure new nanofluid functionalities. This solves some of the relevant issues in the understanding of basic principles of transports in space-limited ionic liquids and ensuring better control of the speed of translocating within an analyte“, explained Dr. Ana Sunčana Smith.

It's worth noting that dr. Sunčana Smith is one of the Croatian scientists that received support from the Croatian European Research Council (ERC) for a very prestigious project in researching biological membranes worth 1,5 million euros.

Energy efficiency is something IRB shows to be really dedicated to, as evident by the progress IRB researchers made in exploring materials for converting CO2 to methanol alcohol, and IRB's Rovinj Sea Research Centre that celebrated 130 years of existence this year priorities maritime ecology and its protection in its research.

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

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Portugal Supports Croatia's Schengen Membership Bid, Says Grlić Radman

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, who held talks with his Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon on Wednesday, said that Portugal supported Croatia's efforts to join the passport-free Schengen Area, as well as to enter the OECD and the MED7, an alliance of Mediterranean EU member states.

Portugal has expressed unreserved support for Croatia in that regard, Minister Grlić Radman told Hina after he held the hour-long talks with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon.

Grlić Radman recalled that during his recent visit to Madrid, Spain's officials also expressed support for Croatia's Schengen membership bid and plans to join MED7.

MED 7 or EuroMed 7 is a group consisting of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta, and their ministers meet once a year to discuss topics of common interest and harmonize their positions. The group was established in 2013 at the proposal of Spain and Cyprus.

The next meeting of MED 7 is likely to be organized in Greece this autumn, and Grlić Radman said in Lisbon that he hoped that Croatia and Slovenia, which also aspire for MED7 membership, could attend that ministerial gathering.

The admission of Croatia and Slovenia to that association will bolster the Mediterranean cooperation, the Croatian minister said.

Portugal is the chair of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2021, and on Thursday, a Gymnich meeting, an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU member states, will take place in Lisbon. EU-Africa relations, the unresolved conflicts in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region will be on the agenda. There will also be an exchange of views with the Jordanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ayman Al Safadi, who has been invited to take part in the working lunch.

Grlić Radman, who will attend that meeting, said that he had congratulated Minister Santos Silva on the successful Portuguese EU presidency.

Croatian-Portuguese relations excellent, TAP introduces direct Lisbon-Zagreb flight service

Considering the Croatian-Portuguese relations, Grlić Radman described them as excellent without any outstanding issues.

He thanked Santos Silva for the prompt Portuguese assistance after the 29 December 6.2 strong quake hit central Croatia.

"We discussed economic cooperation. There is room for its advancement," Grlić Radman said.

TAP Air Portugal, the state-owned flag carrier airline of Portugal, will restore the direct flights between Lisbon and Zagreb on 2 June, after it had ceased operating that line more than five years ago.

We are looking forward to that service, the Croatian minister said.

In 2019, 65,570 Portuguese visitors traveled to Croatia, and in 2020, their number fell to 7,122  due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the data provided by the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Grlić Radman also welcomed the Portuguese authorities' decision to relax rules for the entry of Croatians into Portugal. Currently, travelers arriving from Croatia into Portugal are required to have a negative PCR test to coronavirus and need no quarantine.

The two ministers discussed the developments in the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement to that part of Europe.

The European security and stability depend on the admission of those countries in the European space, and this is also important in the light of reducing the influence of third countries on Western Balkan countries, the Croatian minister said. 

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

Thursday, 27 May 2021

"New Generation of the EU and Croatian Path to Recovery" Hybrid Conference Held in Zagreb

May 27, 2021 - An introductory hybrid conference called "New Generation of the EU and Croatian Path to Recovery" was held on the Croatian Employers' Association premises.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan with EU funds is expected to be a real lever for growth, recovery, and resilience to future crises.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds and with the support of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and the Italian Embassy in Zagreb, the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Forca Digital Agency, in cooperation with PwC Croatia, organized an introductory hybrid conference at the Croatian Employers' Association. The sponsor of the conference was Zagrebačka banka dd.

The conference discussed the national recovery and resilience plan and the new generation of the European Union.

Damir Zorić, Director General of the Croatian Employers' Association, gave a welcome speech at the conference and pointed out:

"I am thrilled that we all gathered today around the topic of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which is very important to HUP and in the focus of employers' interests in the last few months. We want to continue to remain a constructive partner to the Republic of Croatia's Government in this topic to make the most of the opportunity of the generation provided by the NPOO. If we do not create at least 100,000 jobs in the coming period, we will not give future generations a decent opportunity to live."

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The introductory discussion, as well as the round table, were attended by numerous eminent persons, including Zvonimir Savić, Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and State Secretaries Šime Erlić from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds and Zdenko Lucić from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Hrvoje Balen, ICT Vice President - HUP and coordinator for NPOO.

"In the next few months, we expect that there will still be room for NPOO corrections and enabling the involvement of the private sector in certain investment programs. We recognize the efforts of the Government, which negotiated more favorable conditions and a map of regional aid, which opened the space for encouraging private investment and sustainable employment, and we must praise the new dynamics of communication with the Ministries of Economy, Labor, Tourism and Regional Development," said Hrvoje Balen.

All present agreed that the Republic of Croatia is truly living a historic moment. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan with EU funds for the next multiannual financial framework is expected to be a real lever for growth, recovery, and resilience to future crises.

The Ambassador of Italy in Zagreb, HE Pierfrancesca Sacca, and entrepreneurs members of the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce expressed their opinions not only on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan but also on investments and obstacles faced by investors and employers. The Ambassador of Italy in Zagreb, HE On this occasion, Pierfrancesca Sacca presented several activities that Italy and Croatia are carrying out, strengthening the cooperation between our two countries in all fields, and pointed out:

"I don't think we are fully aware of the consequences of the paradigm shift. Now no one thinks globalization can continue as if nothing has happened. There will be efforts to relocate trade and investment flows. The Italian system of promotion and internationalization of companies in the past looked a lot at distant markets. Still, now with increasing attention, it looks at markets and partners much closer to Italy, especially neighboring countries, especially towards Croatia.

An interesting discussion was joined by Mr. Alessio Cioni, Vice President of the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Deputy CEO of PBZ dd, Hrvoje Dolenec Director for Macroeconomic Analysis and Market Analysis of Zagrebačka banka dd, and John Gašparac, President of the Management Board of PwC Croatia, who, with his extensive knowledge and experience, gave a special review of the event.

"Operating costs, although they remain an important criterion, are no longer crucial. We look at productivity, the market, and the recycling capacity in production to minimize the impact on the environment. I also emphasize the slowness of the bureaucracy and especially the legal system, which must be facilitated and simplified especially for the technological infrastructure and in the field of digitalization," said Alessio Cioni.

"We need to focus on two things - to enable entrepreneurs to get funds for their projects as soon as possible, and with the help of the synergy of the private and public sector, to achieve that. The realization of this potential is a historic opportunity for us. We definitely need to be careful about possible risks because others will be involved in it," said John Gasparac.

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The conference continued with a presentation of "Possibilities of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan" by Nataša Mihoci, senior consultant for EU funds at PwC Croatia, who presented a cross-section of opportunities and sectors and potential financial allocations.

Digital and Green are two concepts that run through the entire National Recovery and Resilience Plan and need to be addressed in project preparation.

"It has never been more important to invest in human resources because without that we cannot reach 24.4 billion euros in the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, investment in human capacity and quality preparation is key to reach the mentioned amount. Prepare your ideas for projects now, and don't forget "digital" and "green," said Natasa Mihoci.

The closing speech at the conference was given by the Secretary-General of the Italian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and event moderator, Andrea Perkov, and concluded:

"Today's conference showed that this was a synergistic effect of a public-private partnership with the common goal of presenting, influencing and creating a new generation of Europe in Croatia through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan."

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Slovenian PM Supports Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša on Wednesday supported the Schengen entry of Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania as it would strengthen security in Europe.

We support Croatia's entry to the Schengen Area, as well as the entry of Bulgaria and Romania. We believe those are steps that strengthen security in Europe, he told a joint press conference with European Parliament President David Sassoli.

He spoke at the press conference via video link from Ljubljana after presenting to European Parliament leaders the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts on 1 July.

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Tuesday he expected Croatia's Schengen membership could be on the agenda during the Slovenian presidency.

"Croatia is on the right track to become a member of the Schengen Area in 2022 and then to enter the eurozone. I think that's possible. When we look at the very good relations we now have with Slovenia, it would be a great scenario if something like that happened during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU," he told the press.

Janša today also supported EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, saying many problems there, including the border issue, would be taken off the agenda with the accession of those countries.

EU enlargement is in our common interest. It should be our strategic response to numerous challenges, he added.

He said that when the EU was dealing with the financial and then the migrant crisis, neglecting enlargement, some other factors started expanding their influence in the Western Balkans.

Those foreign factors don't have the same values as we in the European Union, he added.

Janša said a European perspective was the answer.

We can solve problems by making borders less important. Slovenia is now part of the European Union and Schengen, where there are no physical borders, he added.

He announced an EU-Western Balkan summit for 6 October in Slovenia.

As for the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency, Janša highlighted respect for the rule of law and EU resilience to crises. He also underlined the importance of the Conference on the Future of the EU, which will end next year during the French presidency.

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

REPLACE Project from Horizon Europe: Third Primorska-Goranska County Renewable Energy Meeting Held in Rijeka

May 26, 2021 - With Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) being the lead partner, the REPLACE Project from Horizon Europe steadily continues the progress of renewable energy for the Kvarner region.

Earlier in January, TCN wrote about Croatian energy development, whose goal is to be based on clean technologies. And that it's not all empty talk, as shown by the third meeting of a local workgroup enrolled in the REPLACE Project. As Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) reports on its website, the REPLACE Project has a goal of supporting European energetic, climate, environmental, economic, and social goals with the deadline until 2030 and 2050.

As part of the OBZOR 2020 (Horizon Europe) EU program for research and innovations in the 2014-2020 time frame, the REPLACE Project receives EU funding. Twelve partners from nine countries participate in the project, and EIHP is in charge of the project activities in Primorska-Goranska county. In support of European goals, the plan of REPLACE Project is to gradually switch the current ineffective and outdated heating and cooling systems with new efficient systems which rely on renewable energy.

The meeting held at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Rijeka saw Dražen Balić, Antonia Tomas Stanković, and Lea Leopoldović from EIHP hold lectures presenting results of the first period of the project, but also the plans for future activities. The accent was put on implementing campaigns and collective actions supported by the members of the local workgroup. Energetic poverty, gender aspects, and „lock-in effect“ (an economic practice, where a company makes it extremely hard for their customers to leave them, even if the customer wants to) are the obstacles the project runners are aware of and were explained in greater detail. Another thing that stood out in the presentation was the presentation „Technology of Blue Energy in Croatia“, which presented modern technologies used in heating and cooling in coastal areas, and applicable to the Primorska -Goranska county.

Key institutions in the regions such as REA Kvarner (regional energy agency), Energo Rijeka (gas and heat energy provider), representatives of the Primorska-Goranska county, OIE Hrvatska (The economic-interest association The Renewable Energy Sources of Croatia - RES), and Rijeka Consumer Centre were present at the meeting, showing that the motivation to bring energy efficiency in Primorska-Goranska County is in its full strength. Both on corporal, political, and expert levels. 

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

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

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