Tuesday, 25 May 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Decision on Croatia's Entry to Schengen Area Possibly in Second Half of Year

ZAGREB, 24 May, 2021 - Croatia hopes its entry to the Schengen area of passport-free travel could be put on the agenda during Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of this year, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday.

"I believe it is possible. We have excellent overall relations with Slovenia and it would be great if that happened during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU," Plenković told reporters.

Plenković discussed Croatia's accession to the Schengen area and the euro area with European Council President Charles Michel and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

Both the previous and current European Commission have confirmed that Croatia has met all technical criteria to enter the Schengen area and it is now up to the member-states, that is, the Council of the EU, to make a political decision on the matter.

Asked if he expected problems from some member-states, Plenković said that Croatia had succeeded in showing its partners through dialogue that it had met all criteria.

"I believe that we are heading towards a positive decision by the Council," he said.

The EC has said that on 2 June it will announce a new strategy for the Schengen area and two bills on changes to the Schengen evaluation mechanism and the Schengen Information System.

As for Croatia's other strategic goal, entry to the euro area, Plenković said that talks were underway with Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and that Croatia could soon achieve that goal as well.

"I believe that we will manage to join the euro area in the next two years," said Plenković.

The Croatian PM and European Council President Michel discussed also the situation in Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Croatia supported its neighbours' European ambitions, underlining the need to amend Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law so that it could enable parliamentary elections in 2022 and be fair for all constituent peoples and other citizens.

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

European Conference for Social Work Research: Croatian And Swiss Scientists Participate in Social Work Symposium

May 19, 2021 - Held in Bucharest, Romania, the European Conference For Social Work Research saw Croatian and Swiss scientists jointly participate in scientific issues of social work in Croatia and Switzerland.

Earlier in May, the University of Bucharest, located after the biggest city and capital of Romania, held an online edition of the European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR).
Swiss and Croatian teams jointly participated in the symposium „Opportunities and Obstacles in the Evaluation of Homelessness from a Lifeworld-oriented International Social Work Perspective“, which saw prof. Matthias Drilling and dr. Zsolt Temesvary represent their University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), and dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović represent the Croatian Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute. The conference was organized by The European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA)

As stated by ESWRA's official website, the association was founded in 2014 with a goal to create social work research development, collaboration, and exchange across Europe. As the ECSWR conference saw overwhelming levels of engagement, the ESWRA association today counts 600 members from across more than 33 countries.

„ESWRA’s vision is to take forward the development, practice, and utilization of social work research to enhance knowledge about individual and social problems, and to promote just and equitable societies“, says ESWRA.

While Dr. Lynette Šikić Mićanović presented Croatia at the conference, she is also a member of the team that includes Suzana Sakić and Paula Greiner. Along with the aforementioned Swiss team, the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute informed that the Croatian team participated in a joint research project called "Exploring Homelessness and Pathways to Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Contexts and Challenges in Swiss and Croatian Cities (No. IZHRZO_180631/1).

„This work is financed within the Croatian-Swiss Research Program of the Croatian Science Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation with funds obtained from the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Program”, says the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute on its website.

Looking at the „Homelessness and Social Exclusion in Croatia“ science paper whose author is Lynette Šikić-Mićanović from 2010, its abstract suggests that „homelessness is a relatively new phenomenon in most Croatian cities and has been largely ignored by policymakers and social scientists“. So, Šikić-Mičanović's paper aimed to research and contribute new data on a previously unresearched social group to answer the urgent need for a fuller understanding of the perceptions and experiences of homeless people in Croatia.

„Based on the research findings of this study, a number of recommendations can be made for the provision of comprehensive information, services, and assistance to lessen social exclusion among homeless persons as well as to facilitate their routes out of homelessness“, says the paper. Based on scientific research, there are overall five recommendations, as follows:
1.) Special attention – apart from accommodation – needs to be paid to the quality (or lack) of services that homeless people urgently require, such as medical, counseling, legal, supportive holistic assistance from professional qualified and sensitised staff, and so on.
2.) Continual and systematic evaluation is required at shelters and among the wider homeless population by teams of qualified persons, researchers, and/or non-governmental organisations for the assessment and articulation of their needs, abilities, aspirations, and problems.
3.) Programmes need to be developed at the local level to meet different contextual needs. These could include more accessible (less public) soup kitchens, perhaps with special menus (e.g., for diabetics); the introduction of public bathhouses, day centres, doctor’s/dentist’s surgery, or subsidised accommodation for homeless persons, depending on the context.
4.) Volunteers from all age groups should be found and trained with a view to increasing public awareness of homelessness and social exclusion and dispelling the myths and stereotypes about homeless people.
5.) Former shelter users should be monitored and assisted with accommodation and other support services (e.g., utility bills, furniture, therapy, financial aid, help with education) to prevent them from becoming homeless again.

These recommendations are directly quoted from the scientific paper for the sake of accuracy, and hopefully, for a better tomorrow, the policies of the state will follow the scientific findings and discoveries in social sciences.

Learn more about Croatia: location, facts, economy, and more on our TC page.

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

  

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Annual Inflation in EU and Croatia in April Highest in Two and a Half Years

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Annual inflation in the European Union in April reached its highest level in nearly two and a half years, and Croatia also followed this trend, according to a report released on Wednesday by the EU statistical office, Eurostat. 

EU annual inflation was 2.0% in April, up from 1.7% in March, and this was its highest level since November 2018. In April 2020, the annual inflation rate was 0.7%.

The euro area annual inflation rate rose by 0.3 percentage points from March to 1.6% in April, its highest level since April 2019. In April 2020, the annual rate was 0.3%.

The highest annual inflation rates were recorded in Hungary (5.2%), Poland (5.1%) and Luxembourg (3.3%), while the lowest rates were registered in Greece (-1.1%), Portugal (-0.1%) and Malta (0.1%). 

In Croatia, annual inflation in April increased by 2.1%, its highest level since August 2018. In March, the annual rate was 1.6%.

The annual inflation rate of 2.1% was also recorded in Germany and Belgium.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

 

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Rovinj Sea Research Centre Celebrating 130 Years of Work

May 18, 2021 - The Rovinj Sea Research Centre turns 130 in 2021. It is the place in Croatia for oceanographic research and all things science related to the preservation of the sea and maritime life.

Established back in 1891 as Berlin's Aquarium Zoological Station, the research Institute is known today as the Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and last week it celebrated 130 years of work. An affiliate of the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), that institute recently reported that CIM currently has 54 employees working in four laboratories, and the centre is heavily involved in numerous impressive scientific projects.

''This includes five projects of the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ), worth 5,855 635 HRK, three projects financed within the INTERREG cross border programme (worth 1,326 000 euros), three projects with European structural and investment funds (7,189 531 HRK), and two projects financed within the EU programme for research and innovations, OBZOR 2020, valued at 179,360 euros,“ says the IRB official website.

The section of the IRB page dedicated to CIM adds that the centre offers a multidisciplinary take on the research of the sea, offering both basic and applicable oceanographic research. This includes six areas of interest: processes and dynamics in the food chain, examining the dynamics of water masses, ecology (species and the interrelations of species in both clean and in polluted waters), sea organism research (ecological, physiological, and genetic features of organisms, and a pollution effects study), the monitoring of pollution and sea quality, and finally, the monitoring of eutrophication (a process in which the environment becomes enriched with nutrients which can trigger the development of algae and cause an imbalance in the ecosystem).

Set in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula because of the clear waters of the Adriatic sea, CIM is on a mission to preserve marine life and its biodiversity.

CIM truly has a rich tradition, having conducted international systematic research and monitoring of the marine ecosystem of the Northern Adriatic for over 30 years. ''This approach became a model for the regional organisation of the European systematic monitoring of the coastal sea,'' says IRB.

IRB adds that in this long tradition, the Croatian science programme of monitoring the Northern Adriatic played a huge role. Having begun fifty years ago, it developed into the Jadran Project, making Croatia one of the first countries in all of Europe to have developed a systematic approach to the monitoring of the sea.

''Additional confirmation of the tradition and scientific quality of CIM can also be seen in the recent joining of CIM to JERICO – the Joint European Research Infrastructure network for Coastal Observatory, making CIM a partner of some of the most famous European Institutes“, concluded the IRB's explanation.

Learn more about Beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian Government: Zlata Đurđević Not in Favour of Model For Election of Judges As Exists in Most of EU

ZAGREB, 13 May, 2021 - The Croatian government said on Thursday that the candidate for the Supreme Court president Zlata Đurđević is not in favour of the model for the election of judges as exists in most EU countries.

Quoting parts of Đurđević's programme, the government says that Đurđević is not in favour of the model that exists in most EU countries, where judges are appointed by the executive authorities, but rather juxtaposes the election of judges by an independent body with the model in which judges are elected in the parliament.

The government stresses that unlike the model currently in force in Croatia, which was part of obligations assumed with the country's EU membership, that model is the least represented and exists in only two member-states - Slovenia and Latvia.

To elect judges in the parliament would be "a major step backward, notably with regard to judicial autonomy and the perception of judicial autonomy," says the government.

It recalls that until the amendment of the Constitution in 2010, the Sabor elected only members of the State Judicial Council, while the concept under which all judges would be elected by the parliament never existed in Croatia's legal order.

"To have all judges elected by political parties, regardless of which party is in power, would pose a major risk in terms of the politicisation of the system and would not guarantee the election of the best and most qualified candidates," the government says after analysing parts of Đurđević's programme entitled "Judiciary as a branch of government without democratic legitimacy."

The government adds that the system of that kind would constitute a departure from the existing standards "which have shortcomings and leave room for improvement but which are still a far better solution than the appointment of judges by politicians."

Also, the introduction of such a system would be harmful for Croatia's reputation, bearing in mind the content and importance of the mechanism of rule of law oversight in the EU as well as the National Recovery and Resilience Programme, the government says.

It also notes that Đurđević did not always consider the current modal as bad or questioned the autonomy of the Croatian judiciary.

Quoting her opinion published in a law journal in 2018, the government recalls that Đurđević, while criticising court autonomy in Hungary and Poland, said that "one should not doubt the existence of an appropriate normative and institutional framework for the autonomy of Croatian courts."

That normative and institutional framework has not changed since 2018, says the government.

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

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian European Research Council (ERC) Fund Receiver: Meet Brilliant Dr. Vernesa Smolčić

May 13, 2021 - With Croatian scientists' reputation on the rise on the world stage, dr. Vernessa Smolčić is now the Croatian European Research Council (ERC) Fund Receiver. 

Croatian scientists continue to impact the European science scene. As the Faculty of Science (PMF) at the University of Zagreb reports on its website, their scientist and professor, dr. Vernesa Smolčić is one of the 10,000 receivers of non-returnable funds by the European Research Council (ERC). As PMF states, the excellence of research work is the only criteria to get these funds.

„Scientists compete in a very strong international competition in which the European Commission from the total number of applications picks up only 8-15% of the best. Projects founded by the ERC are the best researches in all of Europe, and working on ERC projects increase international recognition of the research, and cooperation with the elite global universities“, says PMF.

An online ceremony saw representatives of ERC welcoming all 10,000 receivers with particularly pointing out the top 15 who contributed to the transformation of science and research.

One of them was, you guessed it, dr. Vernessa Smolčić.

„Vernesa Smolčić studied physics at the University of Zagreb, where she is now a full professor at the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Science. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, followed by a postdoctoral position at Caltech in California, USA. In 2009, she obtained an independent ESO ALMA COFUND Fellowship from the European Southern Observatory. In 2013, she won one of the first ERC Starting Grants in Croatia“, says the ERC website.

vernesa_smolcic.jpg

screenshot / Astroučionica

The website also offers more details on how Smolčić (and other scientists, for that matter) made an incredible contribution in expanding human knowledge.

As Smolčić explained for the ERC website, there were more than a few unknowns in the astrophysics field due, primarily to instrumental limitations at the time. But, in 2014, „Smolčić’s team was one of the first to use new and upgraded radio telescopes in Chile, USA, Australia, and India. These telescopes offered a higher level of accuracy for tracing star formations and detecting galaxies, stretching back to when the universe was very young“, writes ERC.

„While the observation phase was very time consuming, Smolčić was immediately taken aback by the extent of the data. She was not only probing new areas of Space, but she was observing radio wavelengths that no other scientist had been able to see through a telescope lens in such detail, or for so many galaxies. Three years down the line, her team had over 850 hours of data. They analyzed and assembled datasets (radio sky mosaics, data collections) on various types of galaxies, their sources, and physical properties. These datasets were made publicly available to the broader astronomy community, to be used by other scientists to explore more of the universe’s unknowns“, concludes ERC.

„ERC funding really allowed me to conduct my research at the highest competitive levels“, said Smolčić. And you can learn more about her work in this interesting podcast.

European Research Council was established in 2007. As they say themselves, their mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, based on scientific excellence.

„The ERC complements other funding activities in Europe such as those of the national research funding agencies, and is a flagship component of Horizon Europe, the European Union's Research Framework Programme for 2021 to 2027“, they said.

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.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

EU Industrial Production Stabilises in March; Croatia Above EU Average

ZAGREB, 12 May, 2021 - The European Union's industrial production stabilised in March following a decline in the previous month, while Croatia's production grew above the bloc's average rate, according to a report released by Eurostat on Wednesday.  

In March 2021, the seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 0.6% in the EU and by 0.1% in the euro area, compared with February 2021. In February 2021, industrial production fell by 1.0% in the EU and by 1.2% in the euro area.

In both regions, the recovery was driven by production of non-durable consumer goods, which rose by 2.0% in the EU and by 1.9% in the euro area, compared with February 2021.

Production of intermediate goods rose by 1.1% in the EU and by 0.6% in the euro area. The energy sector also recorded a rise, of 1.0% in the EU and of 1.2% in the euro area.

On the other hand, production of capital goods fell by 0.4% in the EU and by 1.0% in the euro area, and production of durable consumer goods decreased by 0.3% in the EU and by 1.2% in the euro area.

Among member states for which data are available, the highest increases were registered in Denmark (+4.9%), Lithuania (+4.5%) and Bulgaria (+3.7%). The largest decreases were observed in Luxembourg (-4.4%), Belgium (-4.0%) and Finland (-2.1%). Croatia saw a monthly drop in industrial production of 3.4%.

Annual comparison

In March 2021 compared with March 2020, industrial production increased by 11.0% in the EU and by 10.9% in the euro area. In February 2021, industrial production fell by 1.4% in the EU and by 1.8% in the euro area. 

Production of durable consumer goods rose the most, by 34.4% in both regions. Production of capital goods increased by 15.9% in the EU and by 16.1% in the euro area, production of intermediate goods rose by 13.4% in the EU and by 13.3% in the euro area, production of energy went up by 2.7% in the EU and by 3.3% in the euro area, and production of non-durable consumer goods increased by 1.1% in the EU and by 0.7% in the euro area.

Among member states for which data are available, the highest increases were registered in Italy (+37.7%), Slovakia (+24.5%), Hungary and Poland (both +16.3%). Decreases were observed in Malta (-2.8%) and Finland (-2.2%). In Croatia, industrial production rose by 9.9% year on year.

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

 

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Migrant Smuggling Market in Balkans Worth €50 Million

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - The migrant smuggling market in the Western Balkans is worth at least €50 million a year, says a report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, describing Serbia as an important destination for migrants because it borders with four EU member states.

The report notes that Serbian police have discovered several tunnels, three to seven metres deep and up to 30 metres long, under the wire fence along the Serbia-Hungary border near the Hungarian town of Szeged and village of Ásotthalom and the Serbian village of Kelebija.

The tunnels are considered relatively risky due to the possibility of arrest and the danger of them collapsing. The smugglers' fees range from €500 to 5,000.

This is much less than during the 2015 migrant however statistics show that the regional market for migrant smuggling is still large regardless of attempts to close the so-called Balkan migrant smuggling route, says the Global Initiative, an international network fighting acquisition of illegal gain and crime.

Quoting Voice of America, the Belgrade media reported about the report, which focuses on the flows of people, drugs and money in the Western Balkans.

Using maps and analyses helps identify key entry and exit points for migrant smuggling through six Western Balkan countries, as well as locations that serve as drug smuggling hubs. Not even the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have disrupted illicit flows, says the Global Initiative.

Its report identifies Serbia as an important destination for asylum-seekers and migrants because the country borders with four EU members - Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

The report quotes data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under which in 2019, 30,216 migrants entered Serbia, almost twice as many as in 2018. The report also quotes data from the Serbian Ministry of the Interior under which in 2020 more than 8,500 migrants were prevented from illegally crossing the Serbian border.

 

 

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Future of Europe: Successful Croatian Stories

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - Successful Croatian stories and a plan to include citizens in Europe's development were presented on Tuesday at the Croatian parliament, during the first part of the "Conference on the Future of Europe - A Vision of Croatia," during which Speaker Gordan Jandroković entered a debate with a robot.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a pan-European, democratic project during which citizens have an opportunity to decide on how the EU should develop.

This is a project in which "citizens are in the centre," European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said.

Citizens can participate in panel discussions, debates and the plenary session, in which 108 seats are reserved for citizens.

An equal number is allocated to representatives of national parliaments and MEPs.

The plenary session will also include 54 Council representatives (two for each member state), three members of the European Commission, and representatives of the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Council, social partners and civil society.

"If we miss out on including citizens, we will leave room for populist ideas," said Šuica.

The conference provides a digital platform where citizens can exchange ideas, connect, make recommendations and launch initiatives.

Šuica warned that according to forecasts, by 2070 Europeans will account for only 4% of the global population and she believes that demography will be a point of interest for citizens.

Robot  argues with Jandroković

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković was the conference's host and during his opening address he was interrupted by Pepper the robot who warned him that he had violated the Standing Orders.

Pepper was made at the Faculty of Computing and Electrical Engineering in Zagreb.

Pepper and Jandroković then debated about parliamentary procedures. 

Jandroković explained that this is a demonstration of what the future holds.

"If we are not smart enough, robots will manage us and not the other way around," he said.

Successful Croatian stories 

Several successful Croatian stories were then presented to the parliament, including a project by the Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency (SIMORA) promoting the town of Novska as the centre of the gaming industry in Croatia.

SIMORA director Mario Čelan said that the gaming industry, particularly now during the pandemic, had surpassed the film and music industry with regard to total revenue generated.

He added that the project had already launched 49 start-ups and that a new, four-year study programme for gaming technicians had been developed as well as that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisaged a gaming industry campus.

This has motivated young people to settle in Novska and the town now has the largest number of companies in its history, he said.

Dragan Schwarz spoke about Radiochirurgia, a special hospital for oncology patients in Zagreb.

More than 45,000 patients have been examined in the five years since the hospital's establishment and more than 4,000 operations were performed, said Schwarz.

"Our results put us at the very top of the global scene," he added.

Sven Lončarić spoke about the Artificial Intelligence Centre (CAI) of the Zagreb Faculty of Computing and Electrical Engineering (FER), which consists of 19 research laboratories, with FER currently implementing around 260 projects financed from national and international sources.  

Boranka campaign, Toljanić family awarded with Croatian Sabor medal

Scouts Croatia and the Toljanić family from the island of Krk were awarded with the Croatian Sabor medal.

The Boranka project, implemented by the scouts' alliance, has been awarded with the European Citizen's Prize by the European Parliament in 2020.

Boranka is the largest reforestation project in all of Europe. To date more than 7,000 volunteers have planted more than 85,000 new trees in fire-devastated areas of Dalmatia.

The Toljanić family was named European Family of the Year in 2020. The family has 12 children and has developed a successful winery and hospitality business.

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

 

 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

EU Kicks Off Year-Long Conference on Future of Europe

May 9, 2021 - The Conference on the Future of Europe, a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future, was officially launched on Sunday on the occasion of Europe Day.

The formal ceremony of the opening of the event was held in Strasbourg.

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the ceremony, European Parliament President David Sassoli, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal, the current chair of the Council of the EU.

About 500 participants, citizens of the EU, and civil society associations activists participated in today's video conference, and the Conference executive board's co-chairpersons answered their questions.

One of those co-chairpersons is the European Commission's Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica.

Multilingual digital platform in 24 languages

The Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, comprising representatives from the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, is launching the multilingual digital platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe, inviting all EU citizens to contribute to shaping their own future and that of Europe as a whole. The platform is available in 24 languages, allowing citizens from across the Union to share and exchange their ideas and views through online events.

All Conference-related events that will be registered on the platform will be visualized on an interactive map, enabling citizens to browse and sign up online.

This Conference is an unprecedented exercise for the EU, Šuica tweeted.

"This has never been tried before, but we are confident that this will strengthen both our Union & our representative democracy. And there is no better date to celebrate that than on #EuropeDay," she added.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

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