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Euro changeover: Agreement with Croatia on practical steps for the start of euro coin production

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The European Commission and eurozone member states have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Croatia outlining the practical steps that will allow the country to begin producing euro coins when it receives the go ahead to join the eurozone. This represents an important milestone in Croatia's efforts to join the eurozone.

The MoU was signed by Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner Gentiloni, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe and Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić in a ceremony which followed the meeting of the Eurogroup which took place earlier today in Brdo, Slovenia.

The MoU allows Croatia, with the assistance of the Commission and eurozone member states, to carry out all the necessary preparations ahead of and up to the actual minting of euro coins. These include, among others: the selection by Croatia of its euro coin national side designs according to national procedures; the acquisition and production of minting tools and coin test runs; and arrangements for the distribution of euro coins and the withdrawal of the Croatian kuna during the changeover.

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Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “I am pleased to sign this Memorandum that will enable Croatia to begin preparations for minting euro test coins, marking another milestone on the journey to euro accession. The Commission continues to support Croatia in its efforts to join the euro area, from which it stands to benefit greatly. However, before it can adopt Europe's single currency, Croatia must first meet all Maastricht criteria and continue to make progress on technical preparations.”

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “The signature of this memorandum is an important symbolic but also practical step on Croatia's road to joining the euro. I welcome Croatia's strong determination to accede to the euro area, which is where the country belongs. The Commission will continue to support Croatia in its preparations and its efforts to meet the convergence criteria.”

Background

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Croatia is not yet a member of the eurozone. The kuna is, however, part of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM II) since 10 July 2020.

The signing of this MoU is one of the normal preparatory steps when a non-euro area member state intends to join the eurozone. Due to the complexity of the tasks linked to euro coin production, member states intending to join need to start preparing well in advance of the Council's decision to lift the derogation from their participation in the euro. This will not prejudge the Council's decision on the lifting of the derogation according to Article 140(2) TFEU.

The signing of the MoU allows Croatia to receive the necessary technical documentation to mint euro test coins, which are used to verify the technical fitness of future euro coins for vending and coin processing machines. The Commission and eurozone national mints will also transfer to Croatia the required copyrights and minting tools. In the past, equivalent MoUs have also been signed with Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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coronavirus

MEPs raise objections to 'corona facism'

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From the 704 elected representatives in the European Parliament, who come from 27 member states, only two dared to raise their voices against COVID measures and the deprivation of the fundamental human freedoms. Interestingly, the two of the 704 MPs come from the same country, where the second dose of the vaccination is at the lowest level in Europe. From Croatia, writes Ivan Vilibor SINČIĆ, MEP.

Croatia is a country with only 35% vaccinated with the second dose, and independent members of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sinčić and Mislav Kolakušić are the only MEPs in Europe who dared to raise their voice against, we can freely call it – corona fascism.

It is unfortunate that there are no more elected representatives of the citizens across Europe to represent freedom and health rights. Not only are there no independent studies of the vaccine efficacy and health impact, but measures such as banning gatherings, restricting work to restaurants and bars, wearing masks, and unnecessary and unreliable testing have completely failed.

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These fascist measures are by no means the measures of experts who care about human health, but the measures of politicians who want to deprive us of our freedom, turn us into mindless robots working against common sense, dehumanize us and make healthy people sick, and of course earn money from it all.

What gives hope is the fact that the citizens of the Republic of Croatia have decided to turn their backs on the pharmaceutical propaganda and the fascist politicians and have decided to listen with an open mind to what their members of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sinčić and Mislav Kolakušić have to say. Some highly vaccinated countries that vaccinated their residents with the third dose have major problems with new positive cases, while Croatia, which has low vaccination rate, is currently one of the safest countries.

The only way to end this story about Covid is to completely abolish fascist measures, gain natural immunity and continue to live normally. Not the new normal, but the normal. Experimental drugs, such as the current vaccines, are not the solution and should not be imposed on citizens in any way. Freedom is a fundamental right on which we should base all policies, including the choice of treatment.

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We call on the other 702 MEPs to stand up for their voters and reject using the force against citizens, as well as the destruction of people's psychological health and the devastation of the economy.

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Croatia

Commission welcomes next step on the approval of the recovery and resilience plans of Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia

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The European Commission has welcomed the positive exchange of views on the Council implementing decisions on the approval of national recovery and resilience plans for Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia held on 26 July, at the informal videoconference of EU Economy and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN). These plans set out the measures that will be supported by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU, which will provide €800 billion (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU. The Council implementing decisions will be formally adopted by written procedure shortly.

This formal adoption will pave the way for the payment of up to 13% of the total allocated amount for each of these member states in pre-financing. The Commission aims to disburse the first pre-financing as quickly as possible, following the signing of the bilateral financing agreements and, where relevant, loan agreements. The Commission will then authorise further disbursements based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in each of the Council Implementing Decisions, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms covered in the plans.

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Bulgaria

Eastern Europe has some of EU’s most polluted cities - What are the challenges facing the region and what solutions exist?

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According to Eurostat, the highest concentration of dangerous fine particles is in urban areas of Bulgaria (19.6 μg / m3), Poland (19.3 μg / m3), Romania (16.4 μg /m3) and Croatia (16 μg / m3), writes Cristian Gherasim.

Among EU member states Bulgaria’s urban areas hold the highest concentration of fine particles, way above the levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Northern Europe holds the lowest levels of fine particle pollution with PM2,5 in the EU. Estonia (4,8 ľg/m3), Finlanda (5,1 ľg/m3) şi Suedia (5,8 ľg/m3), hold the top places for the cleanest air.

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PM2.5 is the most dangerous of the pollutant fine particles, with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. Unlike PM10 (ie 10 micron-sized particles), PM2.5 particles can be more harmful to health because they penetrate deep into the lungs. Pollutants such as fine particles suspended in the atmosphere reduce life expectancy and well-being and can lead to the appearance or worsening of many chronic and acute respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Romania has some of the hardest hit areas in the European Union by various air pollutants.

Air pollution

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According to a study published in March by the global air quality platform IQAir, Romania ranked 15th amongst the most polluted countries in Europe in 2020, and the capital city of Bucharest ranked 51st worldwide. The most polluted capital in the world is Delhi (India). On the other hand, the cleanest air can be found on islands in the middle of the ocean, such as the Virgin Islands and New Zealand, or in the capitals of the Nordic countries Sweden and Finland.

Bad news regarding Romania comes also from the air quality monitoring company, Airly, which singled out Poland and Romania for some of the highest levels of pollution on the continent. The report also found that Cluj, another city in Romania is no listed amongst the most polluted cities in the EU and even holds top spot when it comes to nitrogen dioxide pollution.

According to the European Environment Agency air pollution is the highest health risk in the European Union, with around 379,000 premature deaths due to exposure. Power plants, heavy industry and increased car traffic are the main causes of pollution.

The European Union has appealed local authorities to better monitor air quality, to spot sources of pollution and promote policies that limit pollution by cutting down on traffic.

Brussels has already targeted Romania over air pollution. It launched legal action over excessive air pollution levels in three cities: Iasi, Bucharest and Brasov.

A London based NGO that specializing in sustainable behavior change says in urban areas people have to make decisions for a lifestyle favoring better air quality and the environment: choosing to travel by car sharing, with bicycles or electric scooters, instead of cars.

Waste management

In Eastern Europe, air pollution together with poor waste management and low levels of recycling has created a dangerous concoction. In Romania, next to air quality, the low level of recycling requires local authorities to step in.

It’s infamous that Romania is one of the European countries with the lowest levels of waste recycling and local authorities are required to pay significant amounts of money annually in fines for non-compliance with EU environmental regulations. Also, there is a legislative proposal that would mean that a certain tax for plastic, glass and aluminum packaging would be applied from next year.

EU Reporter previously presented the case of Ciugud community in central Romania that aims to reward recycling by using a locally developed cryptocurrency.

The virtual currency, eponymously named CIUGUban – putting together the name of the village with the Romanian word for money- will be used in its first stage of implementation solely to repay citizens that bring plastic containers to recycling collection units. CIUGUban will be given to locals bringing plastic, glass or aluminum packaging and cans to the collection centers.

Ciugud community is indeed answering EU’s call that local communities to step in and take change of their environmental issues.

As previously reported, in Ciugud the first such unit that gives cash for trash has already been set up in the local schoolyard. In a post on the Facebook of Ciugud Town hall, authorities mentioned that the unit is already full with plastic waste collected and brought there by kids. The pilot project is implemented by the local administration in partnership with an American company, one of the world's leading manufacturers of RVMs (Reverse Vending Machines).

When the project was launched earlier this month, officials mentioned that the deft approach is meant to particularly educate and encourage kids to collect and recycle reusable waste. According to the press release, children are challenged to recycle as much packaging as possible by the end of the summer holiday and to collect as many virtual coins as possible. At the beginning of the new school year, the virtual coins collected will be converted so that children will be able to use the money to finance small projects and educational or extracurricular activities.

Ciugud thus becomes the first community in Romania to launch its own virtual currency. The endeavor is part of a larger local strategy to turn Ciugud into Romania’s first smart village.

Ciugud is planning to go even further. In the second phase of the project, the local administration in Ciugud will set recycling stations in other areas of the commune, and citizens could receive in exchange for virtual coins discounts at village shops, which will enter this program.

Ciugud Town Hall is even analyzing the possibility that, in the future, citizens will be able to use virtual currencies to receive certain reductions in taxes, an idea that would include promoting a legislative initiative in this regard.

"Romania is second to last in the European Union when it comes to recyling, and this means penalties paid by our country for not meeting environmental targets. We launched this project as we want to educate the future citizens of Ciugud. It is important for our children to learn to recycle and protect the environment, this being the most important legacy they will receive," said Gheorghe Damian, the mayor of Ciugud Commune.

Speaking to EU Reporter, Dan Lungu, town hall representative, explained: “The project in Ciugud is part of several other endeavors designed to teach recycling, green energy and protecting the environment to kids. In addition to CiugudBan, we also set up an “Eco Patrol”, a group of school kids that go into the community and explain people about the importance of recycling, how to collect waste, and how to live greener.”

Dan Lungu told EU Reporter that only through getting kids involved they managed to collect and recycle more from Ciugud citizens. The second phase of the project will get a local vendor involved as well, offering in exchange for CiugudBan goods and services to locals.

“And in the third part of the project we want to use CiugudBan to pay taxes and public servicec,” he told EU Reporter.

It remains to be seen is such small scale projects throughout Europe would be enough the efficiently tackle the environmental challenges facing Eastern Europe.

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