Friday, 21 May 2021

Lawmakers Divided Over COVID Certificates

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - After the European Parliament, Council of the EU chair Portugal and the European Commission approved the COVID-19 certificate, intended to help summer tourism in the EU, the Croatian Sabor on Friday expressed dissenting opinions, from support to warnings that this was a discriminatory decision.

Social Democratic Party MP Arsen Bauk told reporters that SDP's MEPs had supported embarking on an agreement with the European Council with regard to COVID-passports and that the party supports them in the Croatian parliament too if they will facilitate travel and getting back to normal.

"Naturally, we are aware of the dangers of them being a means of discrimination and we will observe that solution with caution, as we did with the (COVID-19) measures, but in principle, we support the idea," he said, adding that the reference to discrimination was in the sense that the certificate serves to diminish someone's rights.

We're aware of that danger and that is why we will take care that that does not happen. We consider that that is primarily a document that facilitates life for citizens and only possibly something that discriminates, Bauk underscored.

If there are contentious things, such as protection of personal information, they are less than the benefits that the certificate can bring for a normal life for citizens, he added.

Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) underscored that until there is an equal approach for all EU countries to all three conditions that are set as essential to be issued with the certificates, and considering that Croatia has a low inoculation rate, that decision is discriminatory as it does not put all EU member states in an equal position.

It is also contentious, she added, how long that decision will apply and how it will apply to people who have been vaccinated with vaccines that have not been approved by the EU, which means that some EU citizens will not have the same rights as other EU citizens.

Stjepo Bartulica (Homeland Movement) said that it is necessary to warn that the COVID certificates could pose a threat to fundamental freedoms and rights.

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

Friday, 5 March 2021

Parliament Passes Amendments Granting Digital Nomads Right to Health Care

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Friday passed amendments under which digital nomads, that is, third-country nationals who use digital technology for work and have been granted temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia, have the right to health care.

The amendments to the Act on Mandatory Health Insurance and Health Care for Foreigners in the Republic of Croatia enable digital nomads to exercise the right to health care.

This applies to third-country nationals who are employed or doing work using communication technology for a company or their own company which is not registered in the Republic of Croatia and do not carry out work for or provide services to employers in Croatia, and who have been granted temporary residence in our country.

They will not be obliged to apply for compulsory health insurance, but then they will bear the costs of using health care in health insitutions, private practices or other health care providers.

Amendments to the Islands Act, which transpose the government's decree on subsidising water for human consumption per islander, have been sent to second parliamentary reading.

In addition, several agricultural laws, on food control, veterinary medicine, breeding of domestic animals, have been sent to second reading.

The parliament has also adopted several reports for 2019 -- on state budget execution, on the implementation of official development assistance to foreign countries, and on the effects of the implementation of the Islands Act.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Croatian MPs Spend Less Due to Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

ZAGREB, 10 January, 2021 - Croatian lawmakers spent less than usual in the second half of 2020, mostly due to travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Between 22 July, when the 10th parliament was formed, and 18 December, when parliament concluded its last year's session, MPs spent HRK 2.4 million, excluding their monthly salaries. They spent most of the money on the use of their own cars for official purposes (HRK 1.1 million) and apartment rental (HRK 709,000), a report on expenses published on parliament's website shows.

As a result of coronavirus-related movement restrictions, only HRK 11,353 was spent on air fare, HRK 105,000 went towards hotel expenses and HRK 825 towards daily allowances.

As expected, the highest expenses were incurred by MPs who live farthest from Zagreb - HDZ lawmakers Nevenko Barbaric (HRK 49,000) and Radoje Vidovic (HRK 45,000) who travel to Zagreb from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, and SDP lawmakers Matko Kuzmanic (HRK 44,000) and Branko Grcic (HRK 43,000) who live in Split.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Croatia Has Met Only 1 Of 3 GRECO Anti-Corruption Recommendations For Lawmakers

ZAGREB, June 4, 2020 - Croatia has fulfilled only one out of the three recommendations made by GRECO, the Council of Europe anti-corruption body, concerning parliamentary deputies, and together with Hungary, Poland and Austria, Zagreb is one of the underperformers in this category, the Vecernji List daily wrote on Thursday.

Of 42 Council of Europe member-states covered by recommendations, the above-mentioned four countries have the poorest outcome in meeting the recommendations made in a bid to curb corruption among parliamentarians, the Vecernji List says in the article headlined, "Croatia fails to abide by anti-corruption recommendations for MPs".

GRECO, headed by Croatian judge Marin Mrcela, who is the Croatian Supreme Court's vice-president, has recommended the adoption of a code of conduct for MPs, however, Zagreb has not yet done that.

The code of conduct is supposed to provide guidelines for the conduct of lawmakers during their meetings with lobbyists or anyone advocating their cause. The document should also specify what MPs can accept as gifts and so on. A deadline that Croatia has set on itself to adopt the code expired in late 2015. The deadline was specified in the 2015-2020 strategy for the fight against corruption.

GRECO has in the meantime proposed new recommendations, including the adoption of a code of conduct for top state office-holders.

GRECO has already recommended the strengthening of the role of the Conflict of Interest Commission.