Tuesday, 14 September 2021

European Parliament For Recognising Same-Sex Marriage Across EU

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - A majority of members of the European Parliament on Tuesday endorsed a draft resolution seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships in all member states.

The draft was endorsed by 387 MEPs, 161 voted against and 123 abstained.

The resolution says same-sex spouses and partners should be treated equally as heterosexual ones, and that marriages and partnerships concluded in one EU member state should be recognised in all.

Of the Croatian MEPs, the draft was endorsed by Biljana Borzan, Predrag Matić and Tonino Picula of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Valter Flego of the Istrian Democratic Party.

Independent Mislav Kolakušić and conservative Ladislav Ilčić were against, while Sunčana Glavak, Karlo Ressler, Tomislav Sokol and Željana Zovko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) abstained.

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić (Human Shield) did not vote as he was in Rome, and Romana Jerković (SDP) could not because of technical difficulties, but her office told Hina that she "supports this resolution."

Speaking to Hina, Matić said the adoption of the resolution was a "civilisational achievement", while Flego said it was unacceptable that LGBTIQ rights were being reduced instead of advanced in many countries, and that it was time to "finally give everyone equal rights."

Ilčić told Hina the resolution "is consciously trying to equate the legal status of same-sex couples in all member states, thus negating the right of the states to independently decide which unions they will recognise and which they won't."

"That would mean that the whole EU must follow the most liberal states to avoid alleged discrimination, which is absurd, contrary to the treaties and the subsidiarity principle," he said, adding that the LGBT lobby was exerting enormous pressure on the European institutions.

The resolution also calls on the European Commission to take action against Romania, Hungary and Poland for violating LGBTIQ rights and fundamental EU values.

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

Croatian MEPs Fight for Epidemiologically Favourable Counties as Season Approaches

April the 26th, 2021 - Croatian MEPs are acting as the voice of those Croatian counties which have fared better in the epidemiological sense throughout the coronavirus crisis, warning that they mustn't be made victims of worse off counties during the upcoming tourist season this summer.

As Novac/Ljubica Vuko writes, on Friday, the Office of the European Parliament in Croatia organised an online conference on the digital future of Europe and current events from the work of the European Parliament, which were discussed by Croatian MEPs Karlo Ressler (HDZ, EPP) and Valter Flego (IDS, Renew Europe).

Speaking about current events in the work of the European Parliament, the aforementioned Croatian MEPs pointed out the initiatives they've launched in order to better prepare for the 2021 Croatian tourist season in the current circumstances which are still very heavily dominated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Valter Flego stated that he had sent a letter with 24 signatures to the European Commission and the Council to mark Croatia differently on the European map by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). This same initiative was signed by 9 of the 12 Croatian MEPs.

''The travel measures/rules to a country are determined in relation to the epidemiological situation in that country at any given time. At the Committee on Transport and Tourism, I started with the initiative stating how dissatisfied we are with how Croatia is being marked on the European map. We don't think it's fair that it's been divided into statistical regions because in that way, the entire Adriatic coast is one area, one colour, and that map fails to show the real epidemiological situation all over our coast. This is an injustice that I set out to explain to the Committee when we discussed tourist season preparations and during the Renew Group preparatory meeting. We came up with the idea to collect signatures and I offered it first to my colleagues from my group, then to members of the Croatian delegation, besides me, nine others signed it, I want to thank everyone, first of all Mr. Ressler who got involved with this,'' said Flego.

He emphasised that the aim of the initiative launched towards the European Commission and the Council was to have this issue rectified as a matter of urgency.

''It's important that the epidemiological situation is viewed in relation to Croatian counties, and not in relation to statistical regions,'' warned Valter Flego.

Members of the HDZ Delegation to the European Parliament also sent a parliamentary question to the European Commission on Wednesday on the topic of a regional approach to labeling epidemiological travel risks.

''Some counties are better off than others, some are worse. It's important that those counties that are more favourable epidemiologically aren't deprived of anything and aren't viewed together as part of Adriatic Croatia, ie through the NUTS2 division. The Ministry of Tourism also has a role to play in explaining the situation as it actually is and the differences between the counties, and to show that there are large parts of Croatia where it's more than safe to come on holiday,'' said Karlo Ressler.

Walter Flego said that he had also launched another initiative, concerning digital green certificates, the introduction of which was initiated by the European Commission in order to facilitate free and safe movement at the European Union level.

''The topic about green certificates or as some would say covid passports is very hot at the minute, and it's wrong to refer to them as the latter because they aren't passports. All initiatives around green certificates are welcome as they will speed up travel, but it's very important to determine just will pay the cost of testing for those people who haven't yet been vaccinated and those who have recovered from coronavirus. That's why I've taken the initiative to the European Commission because I believe that testing should be free, as is vaccination. If we don't want discrimination in these certificates, and we truly do not want that, then the testing procedure should also be free,'' Flego pointed out.

Karlo Ressler said the crux of the problem is that we're facing another uncertain tourist season, much like that of 2020.

''Last year, unlike some other countries which rely heavily on tourism, Croatia achieved relatively good results, but not when compared to the best tourist years. I have no fear of these digital certificates restricting freedoms, they'll actually work to increase mobility. My fear is that this mechanism won't be effective enough to make a big difference, which is why I think it is important, once the European Parliament adopts its opinion next week, for us to negotiate with the Council and make that document really make a difference and facilitate mobility for people ahead of the tourist season in summer,'' Ressler said.

For more, make sure to follow our politics section.

Friday, 15 November 2019

IDS MEP Valter Flego Seeks Connection Between Istrian Y and Slovenia

An Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS) MEP has proposed better road connections between Istria and Croatia, primarily involving the Slovenian motorway and the Istrian Y.

When it comes to good neighbourly relations between Croatia and its neighbour to the north, Slovenia, things have been bad at worst and petty at best over the last few years. The border dispute has led both countries to quite childish jibes and Slovenia will likely continue to try to block Croatia's Schengen entry for as long as possible because of the country's refusal to recognise and therefore implement the arbitration court's decision on the border.

As Glas Istre/Dubravko Grakalic writes on the 15th of November, 2019, an IDS Member of the European Parliament, Walter Flego, emphasised in his brief debate in the European Parliament the need to create transport links between Croatia and Slovenia.

"I come from Istria and I recognise the importance of international and cross-border co-operation in an area. Clearly, I'm not just talking about projects and events, but also about infrastructure. We've got some excellent examples at the very top of the EU, such as the Interreg interregional cooperation program, which has funded more than sixty very valuable projects. When talking about Istria, we have a great example of connection and cooperation between two water supply lines - the Istrian water supply system from the Croatian part of Istria, and the Rižan water supply system from the Slovenian part of Istria,'' Flego cited.

"We need a connection between the Istrian Yp to the Slovenian motorway network in order to reduce congestion during the tourist season. That's why I ask that cohesion policy funds not be cut and that is why I'm asking for such an item to be placed in the 2021-2027 budget. This would enable our people in Istria to live and work more easily and simply. Our countries are not isolated islands, so let's invest in the coming years in projects that connect us, so that residents and tourists can live and work freely throughout the year, but also enjoy their well-deserved holidays,'' said IDS's Walter Flego in Brussels, Belgium.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Istria Leader in EU Funds Absorption

Istria is one of the most developed Croatian counties with a GDP of 24.9% above the Croatian average and an unemployment rate lower than the EU average. The rate of immigration to Istria is higher than the rate of emigration, which is why it is often called "little Ireland", reports Lokalni.hr on March 12, 2019.

The economic and social development of Istria is a consequence of the successful absorption of EU funds and, in general, excellent cooperation with different European regions and European institutions. “Users from Istria have so far participated in more than 60 different programmes and through nearly one thousand European projects they have secured 3.2 billion kuna in grants,” said Istrian County prefect Valter Flego.

According to available data, money from EU funds has been invested mostly in agriculture and fisheries, entrepreneurship, science and research, energy and environment, transport, culture and education, employment and promotion of gender equality. In addition to the European projects, Istria is also very successful in cross-border programmes through which beneficiaries from the county have absorbed as much as 215 million kuna.

“Istrian County has some form of formalised cooperation with as many as five Italian regions, and through the partnership with them we have implemented a number of projects in the fields of culture, tourism, environmental protection and transport,” explains Flego.

While Croatia, with an average absorption rate of 29 per cent of EU funds, is at the bottom of the EU rankings, Istrian County is exceptionally successful in this regard. Flego explains that this should be attributed to the fact that Istria has systematically worked on strengthening project implementation capacities and has invested heavily in education on EU policies and funds. Over the last few years, about 600 people from Istria have been trained. Also, the county is continually informing all potential beneficiaries about the possibilities of project financing.

“To ensure greater EU funds utilisation, counties must be involved in planning future operational plans, which has not been the case so far. Exclusion of counties has led to the fact that it is impossible to build new homes for seniors or necessary maritime port infrastructure with money from EU funds. I hope that we will be able to plan such projects in the next budgetary period from 2021 to 2028,” said Prefect Flego, adding that Croatia had available almost nine billion euros in that period.

“That money is waiting for someone to take it. I hope the state will be smart enough not to hinder us and allow us to withdraw that money. Besides, Croatia must decentralise the management of EU funds. Such a model provides a degree of autonomy and influence in the process of defining strategic priorities and project selection. Who knows better what is needed than the people who live and work in the region in question?” asked prefect Flego.

More news about EU funds can be found in the Business section.

Translated from Lokalni.hr (reported by Snježana Bičak).

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Gourmet & Wine Lovers App Launched in Istria

Istrian County Tourist Board presented a mobile app which brings the entire Istrian wine and gastro offer to your phone