Thursday, 30 June 2022

Portuguese Ceramic Tiles Exhibition Opens In Rijeka

ZAGREB, 30 June 2022 - An exhibition called "Azulejo - the Art of Portuguese Ceramic Tiles" was opened at the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka on Wednesday.

The exhibition was organised in cooperation with the Zagreb Museum of Arts and Crafts and the support of the Croatian Foreign Ministry, which donated the exhibits to the Zagreb museum in 2015.

The exhibition shows products of Lisbon workshops from the first half of the 18th century on 11 display boards containing compositions of blue-white, glazed and painted ceramic tiles which have become a distinctive symbol of Portuguese culture and tradition.

Portuguese Ambassador to Croatia Maria Paula Vieira Leal Da Silva attended the opening.

The exhibition can be seen until 6 September.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Croatians Win 4 Golds at Euro RoboCup in Portugal

ZAGREB, 5 June 2022 - Young Croatian participants, who competed in the Euro RoboCup in Portugal from 1 to 4 June, became the champions in four categories, and also won two silvers and one bronze.

A total of 14 teams with 37 competitors from Croatia attended the competition in the city of Guimarães at the 3rd Euro Robo Cup.

The golds went to 'Školska knjiga CRO team' -in the Rescue Line category;  to 'DataCro team' in the  Soccer Entry; 'HROBOS CRO team' u in the Rescue Simulation SuperTeams; and the 'Power Splitters' in  the On Stage Preliminary.

The Croatian competitors come from elementary and secondary schools in Varaždin, Zagreb, Velika Gorica, Split, Dubrovnik and Brač.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

TAP Air Portugal Launches Direct Line Between Zagreb and Lisbon

ZAGREB, 2 June 2021 - TAP Air Portugal, the state-owned flag carrier airline of Portugal, started operating direct flights between Zagreb and Lisbon on Wednesday, Zagreb Airport reported upon the reintroduction of this direct flight service.

The flights from Zagreb to Lisbon are scheduled three times a week, at 13.25 hours on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, while the flights from Lisbon to Zagreb are at 8 a.m. and arrive in Zagreb shortly afternoon.

Arik De of TAP Air Portugal said on Wednesday that this also strengthened the position of Lisbon as an air transport hub between Europe and America and Africa.

Yavuz Aytis of the Zagreb Airport (MZLZ) said that he was glad that this Lisbon-Zagreb direct service was restored after a five-year suspension.

During his recent visit to Portugal, Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman announced the restoration of this service as one of the steps that would facilitate cooperation between the two countries.

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.

 Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel 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.

Monday, 16 November 2020

PHOTOS: Cristiano Ronaldo in Split Before Portugal Croatia Game

November 16, 2020 - Excitement for tomorrow's Croatia Portugal game is building as one of the world's greatest footballers is again pictured in Croatia - Cristiano Ronaldo in Split

Tomorrow night will see the last chance for the Croatian National Football Team to remain in League A in the UEFA Nations League when they take on Portugal at Poljud stadium. Excitement for the game is building as one of the world's greatest footballers has again been photographed in the host town. Cristiano Ronaldo in Split is not a sight you get to see every day.

Screenshot (69).pngCristiano Ronaldo in Split, as seen on the sports pages of Jutarnji List © screenshot Jutarnji List

Croatian football fans were first notified of Cristiano Ronaldo in Split when the Portugal team were pictured arriving together in the city on Sunday. Ronaldo was the last man to leave the team bus. Today, a new photograph has emerged of Cristiano Ronaldo in Split. Published on the sports pages of Jutarnji List, the Portuguese captain was photographed looking out from the balcony of the Amphora Hotel in Žnjan to the east of the city. If the hotel balcony Cristiano Ronaldo in Split was pictured in is his, the Juventus forward will have a glorious, unobstructed view of Brac island from his room.

Playing under manager Zlatko Dalic, the Croatian National Football Team will be desperate to avoid relegation to League B in the UEFA Nations League with the result against Portugal tomorrow. Meanwhile, Portugal have little to play for - their hopes of finishing at the top of League A's Group 3 were ended by their defeat to France in their last match.

Screenshot (70).pngCristiano Ronaldo in Split, as seen on the sports pages of Jutarnji List © screenshot Jutarnji List

The Croatian National Football Team have been drawn in one of the most difficult groups within this year's UEFA Nations League. Portugal are the defending champions of the league and France are the current World Cup holders. Croatia have lost four of their last five matches in the competition, their only win so far being against Sweden. Sweden are currently at the bottom of Group 3 with only three points, the same as Croatia. Croatia are placed third, above Sweden, having scored more goals. The final standing of the teams will also depend on the result of the Sweden France game which will be played simultaneously.

To get the most up-to-date news about tomorrow's game and the Croatian National Football Team, plus all international Croatia sports and domestic leagues, be sure to follow Total Croatia News dedicated Sports pages

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Monday, 23 September 2019

Portugal Satisfied with Euro, But Issues Warning to Croatia...

A lecture on two decades of the life of Portugal in the Eurozone was held at the Croatian National Bank (HNB/CNB), and despite the many good things Portugal itself claims to have taken from the euro's introduction, it isn't entirely a bed of roses and there are lessons to be learned by Croatia.

As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 22nd of September, 2019, twenty years since the introduction of the euro, Portugal today regards the introduction of the common currency as very positive, said Banco Portugal's governor, Carlos Da Silva Costa, at a lecture at the Croatian National Bank entitled "Two decades with the euro - a Portuguese perspective". The benefits of the euro were particularly felt by the country during the financial crisis, which was more easily overcome by the availability of cheap money.

"The euro has promoted a shift towards a regime characterised by lower and less unpredictable interest rates, as well as inflation rates, and has led to important structural changes in the Portuguese economy," said Governor Da Silva Costa.

For domestic skeptics concerned about rising prices over the euro, Portuguese experience shows that in the first quarter of 2002, the conversion of the old Portuguese escudo to the euro brought in 0.2 percentage points higher inflation and service prices raised by 0.5 points.

Since joining the exchange rate mechanism, Portugal has virtually halved long-term inflation, from an average of 11.7 down to 4.9 percent, and the economy quickly converged, reaching GDP per capita at 70 percent of the EU average back in 1998.

And now the classic "but" follows.

On the wings of an abundance of money and falling interest rates, real convergence hid the accumulation of macro imbalances, especially in the fiscal domain. Private sector borrowing exploded: from 1995 to 2007, savings halved and debt doubled to (on average) 187.2 percent of GDP. The Portuguese have long financed spending and low-profit investments, and cheap money has not been resisted by the state that pursued pro-cyclical fiscal policy.

The 2010 budget deficit exceeded 11 percent and public debt 100 percent of GDP. But with all that having been said, what is the situation today? The average treasury deficit (2015-2018) is -2.4 percent, public debt is 128.3 percent and private sector debt 216.3 percent of GDP. The economy grew only 2.2 percent in that period (growth potential only 1.2 percent worse than Croatia).

''For the last 25 years of history in Portugal, we've been taught that imbalances have caused excessive borrowing with weak growth potential. It also taught us that the combination of easy access to credit and insufficient quality institutions and policies has curtailed potential growth,'' said the Portuguese governor.

He stated that Portugal's examples and experiences are seriously worth Croatia's consideration on its path to the euro, but the only question is whether or not the message will be heard and actually understood properly by the right people.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages for much more.

Monday, 10 June 2019

What can Portugal Teach Croatia about Tax Incentives and Immigration?

What can Croatia learn from Portugal's dramatic turnaround? Quite a bit, as it happens.

As Novac/Nikola Mijatovic writes on the 9th of June, 2019, most European countries have faced a demographic crisis over the past decade or so, with the exceptions of rich EU nations like the UK and Germany, who have seen an influx of immigrants from other EU states. The number of deaths significantly exceeds the number of births in Croatia, which is also what happened in Portugal, affecting the proportion of the working-active population (employed) and even just state service users negatively.

This is negatively reflected in Portugal's public finance system, and in particular on the financial sustainability of the social security system. It can be said that the demographic aging of the population in the EU is a crucial challenge that currently doesn't have an adequate response offered to it. This was aided by the 2008 economic and financial crisis, which pushed Portugal even further back, seeing it drop to the very bottom of the European economy, taking the general levels of optimism of the Portuguese population down with it.

Portugal currently has 10.3 million inhabitants. Forecasts suggest that by the year 2080, if there are no positive demographic fluctuations, there will be 7.7 million inhabitants. Such a negative demographic breakdown was also influenced by Portugal's entry into the EU back in 1986, when a significant number of citizens, using the benefits of EU's fundamental freedoms, went to live and work in richer European countries such as the UK and Germany.

This should also include about 500,000 people who left Portugal in the wake of the awful 2011-2015 crisis. The poor economic situation in Portugal (additionally supported by the global crisis) affected a large number of unemployed people - in 2015 the unemployment rate in Portugal was 12.4 percent according to Eurostat, by 2018, it was 6.7 percent - especially affecting young people, of whom almost 50 percent were unable to find any sort of job (today the share of unemployed youth in Portugal stands at 20 percent).

All of this led to the figure of 2.3 million Portuguese citizens who went to live overseas. With the extremely negative rate of demographic growth - the lowest rate of demographic growth in the EU for the past few years (fertility rate of 1.4 percent) - Portugal's still lingers at the demographic bottom of the EU.

Significant economic revolutions and better financial parameters from the state are thanks to the formation of a new, left-leaning government which took over at the end of 2015. The growth of the Portuguese economy in recent years has led to the lowest budget deficit since 1974 (when a new government system was established).

Immediately after the takeover of power, in 2016, the new Portuguese government achieved a budget deficit of 2.1 percent, which is within the limits of budget constraints imposed by the EU (the budget deficit cannot be higher than 3 percent of GDP), and in 2018, it recorded a record budget deficit of 0.7 percent of GDP.

Though it has the largest public debt with the EU (with 128.8 percent of GDP in 2007), it has continued to decline over the last three years, to 201.4 percent of GDP (according to Wirtschaftskammer Austria), and the IMF forecasts from February 2019 predict a continued fall in public debt, and it's expected to amount to 107.4 percent of GDP by 2022).

Positive economic developments and the stabilisation of public finances also led to the early repayment of an IMF loan, which Portugal, forced by the economic crisis, took out in 2011 in order to service its financial needs. There is also a rise in its credit rating, which has affected the decline in interest rates on Portuguese bonds.

All of this contributed to stronger foreign investment and strong global business activity in ​​Portugal (Google employs more than 500 people there, Mercedes opened up new office IT offices, and more and more Spanish companies moved their headquarters to Portugal.)

All of the above has led to growth in private consumption, attracting more foreign investment and strengthening exports, and the Portuguese economy has been growing steadily in recent years (2017's GDP growth was 2.8 percent, and in 2018 it was 2.1 percent), leading to a fall in the unemployment rate (forecasts by the IMF indicate that in 2022, unemployment in Portugal will amount to a mere 6 percent).

In addition to a strong growth in tourism, the growth of the economy was affected by the lowering of oil prices on the world market, the increase in the sale of metal products and the increase in exports for the needs of motor vehicles, as well as the textiles and paper industries in EU countries (especially Spain, France and Germany as main trading partners).

The main export products from Portugal in 2018, at least according to Wirtschaftskammer Austria, were car parts (6.8 percent), electric machines (4.1 percent), mineral raw materials (3.5 percent), machinery and mechanical appliances (3.1 percent), and artificial materials/goods (2.6 percent).

The (economic) optimism that is now felt in Portugal is particularly evident in the field of tourism, which has experienced a real boom in recent years; it has received a variety of tourist awards, which attracts numerous (foreign) tourists and leads to an overall rise in tourism revenue.

According to WKO Austria, Portugal was visited by 15.8 million foreign tourists in 2015, then 21.1 million in 2017. It has strongly boosted (overseas) tourist revenues, which in 2011 amounted to 7.9 percent of GDP, and in 2017, they accounted for 9.6 percent of GDP. The strengthening of Portuguese tourism was also influenced by a tax-oriented tourism policy.

While the previous government, due to the crisis and the need for increased tax revenues, decided to increase the VAT rate to an unhelpful 23 percent, the current government has made a tax reduction - it has introduced a 13 percent lower VAT rate on tourism and hospitality, which paved the  way for the attractiveness of the country as a desirable tourist destination.

Positive budgetary and economic developments, among other things, were influenced by the good tax measures introduced by the new left-leaning government. Unlike the previous government, which, in response to the crisis, advocated a savings policy (reducing salaries and pensions) and introduced new taxes, the current government is pursuing expansive economic and fiscal policies by abolishing the reductions and taxes introduced during the crisis.

While it was decided to reduce VAT on tourism and hospitality, taxes on inheritance, gifts and property were raised. Tax exemptions seek to attract foreign pensioners to come and live in Portugal.

In this regard, wanting to take advantage of the mild climate, more than 300 sunny days a year and lower living costs, the Portuguese Government has already stipulated that foreign pensioners applying for a resident status - in the case of multiple residences - must stay at least 183 days oer year Portugal, and can then take advantage of the exemption from paying income tax.

With such tax planning, individuals can save up to 30,000 euros a year, depending on the country they come from and the pension that they have. Politico wrote about this "unusual resident scheme" a few months ago, stating that the well-off baby boomers moving to Portugal are attracted by the warm climate and tax benefits, where it isn't necessary to buy properly (it's possible just to rent). By applying for such a "resident scheme" pensions from abroad can be exempt from needing to be taxed for an entire decade.

2009's tax exemptions for new tax residents in Portugal were imposed. Physical persons who become Portuguese taxpayers (residents) next year, provided that they weren't taxpayers for the previous five years there, may seek the use of a special tax incentive for so-called "unusual" taxpayers.

For them, a proportional tax rate of 20 percent is foreseen regardless of the amount of income earned. There is also a limitation that such tax incentives, which are aimed at attracting highly educated professionals, remain valid only for professional activities in highly valuable positions.

For example, architects, engineers and similar technical professionals, artists, actors and musicians, auditors and tax consultants, doctors and dentists, professors, psychologists, investors, directors, and managers are included in this category. The aforementioned residents are entitled to tax incentives for the next ten years. In addition, under certain conditions, the possibility of a tax exemption for income made outside of Portugal (under the double taxation avoidance agreement, tax is payable only in the source country) is foreseen.

For entrepreneurs from third countries (outside the EU/EEA), in order to accelerate the acquisition of resident status in Portugal and the achievement of related tax incentives, the Golden Residence Permit was launched in 2012. If the investor wants to meet the conditions for obtaining this status, he must invest at least one million euros (share investments are allowed), open at least ten jobs within the investment project, and acquire real estate costing at least 500,000 euros.

By acquiring this status, entrepreneurs from third countries can move around and use the benefits offered within the EU more easily. This program proved to be beneficial to the Portuguese economy because such permits have been obtained thousands of foreign entrepreneurs who have invested more than four billion euros into the Portuguese economy so far, according to public figures. The program itself was supported by almost all political parties.

This also includes tax measures for emigrants, foreseen in the budget for 2019. It is intended to be realised within Portugal's ''Return Program'' (Program Regressar), where those who have emigrated from Portugal, as well as their offspring, are offered incentives if they return to their homeland.

Namely, as has been stated, in the period from 2011 to 2015, in the wake of the economic crisis, about 500,000 Portuguese people left their country. Although some of them returned, the Portuguese Government wants to boost the return of other Portuguese emigrants. That is why the Program Regressar was thought up and eventually passed, in order to, among other things, deal with the task of "meeting the current needs of workers within certain sectors of the Portuguese economy".

As part of this program, the intention is for emigrants who decide to return to receive assistance, help with the costs of relocating and transferring private property, as well as finding a job in Portugal. There are also specific credit facilities intended for returnees who want to start a private business.

Portugal has not only properly addressed their burning issues, but taken the necessary steps to overcome them. Croatia is continuing to lag, with an absolutely dire demographic trend continuing to strip the nation of its much needed labour force, resulting in the Croatian Government increasing the quota for foreign workers from outside the EEA, such as those from Serbia, Bosnia, and even people from as far away as Asia. 

The situation in Croatia is likely to get dramatically worse before it shows any signs of improving, or will the state wake up and follow in Portugal's footsteps? Only time will tell, but by then it might be much too late.

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