Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
The inevitable path of Croatia adopting the Euro as the official currency is gathering pace as the Prime Minister announced that it is a strategic goal of the government.
“The economic benefits of the Euro are many, the currency risk in the economy will be eliminated, the cost of borrowing will drop for all domestic sectors, and citizens and businesses will have lower financing costs than they would if Croatia stayed outside the euro area,” stated Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
And it seems that the public won’t be asked their opinion as to whether the country should ditch the Kuna and adopt the Euro in the form of a referendum as the Prime Minister reiterated that the people have already decided when they voted to join the EU. As part of Croatia’s accession into the EU family there was the obligation to adopt the Euro as the official currency.
“The euro is the second largest and strongest global currency used by more than 340 million people in the euro area,” added Plenkovic.
And he backed up his belief that Croatia should start using the currency of Europe with some hard facts. Plenkovic emphasized that around 76 percent of Croatians already save in Euros rather than in Kunas, meaning that Croatia has the highest deposits of Euros of all EU member states outside the euro area. He added that almost fifty percent of loans and mortgages are in Euros and that businesses export almost 60 percent of their goods into the Eurozone.
So when will Croatians start paying in Euros rather than Kunas?
In the second half of 2020 Croatia is expected to enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II upon confirmation of compliance with all conditions. Then the country would spend about 2 to 3 years in this mechanism, meaning that the full introduction of the Euro as the official currency would be somewhere between January 2023 and January 2024.
And although there is still some fear amongst citizens that prices will rise overnight the fact that most major transactions in Croatia are already carried out in Euros should help to ease those fears. Houses, cars, boats, land, in fact most things of larger value are quoted in Euros already.
And one major benefit of introducing the Euro would be the increased spending by tourists. Exchanging their home currency into Kunas tends to mean that tourists don’t exchange more than they really need. And there is also the positive effect it would have on interest rates, it is believed by financial experts that the introduction of the Euro would bring interest rates in line with the Eurozone, basically meaning lower interest rates for both private loans and business loans.
As the sun poured down on Dubrovnik today after a spell of grey and overcast weather some people were tempted to dive in the Adriatic Sea and determined to make the most of a sunny start to the week.
With sea temperatures around 20 degrees in fact the sea isn’t that chilly, indeed the sea in Dubrovnik today was twice as warm as the air temperature in the capital. This brave swimmer in the Bay of Lapad today certainly had the sea to himself. No worries about finding a spare spot on the beach to roll out his towel or whether a jet-ski would whizz past his ear, he crawled, a front crawl that is, to his heart’s content.
Sunset Beach Dubrovnik in the November sunshine - Photo Mark Thomas
However, the forecast for the rest of the week doesn’t look so promising for our swimmer, he might want to pack away the speedos, as rain and storms are predicted. But on the 11th day of the 11th month at exactly 11:00 am he splashed away even though Christmas is just around the corner.
The Croatian Electric Company (HEP) has launched its one hundredth vehicle charging station in Croatia.
“With the commissioning of the 100th electric vehicle charging station, the Croatian Electricity Company has confirmed itself as a key entity in the electrification of traffic in Croatia, which we carry out in accordance with the guidelines of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the policies of the European Union. At the moment, more than a hundred electric charging stations have been installed in Croatia and of which 26 are in Zagreb,” said the CEO of HEP, Frano Barbaric, adding that HEP is only halfway through the planned construction of infrastructure for electric vehicles.
At the moment, HEP's filling network covers all motorways and other important road routes in Croatia, city centres and tourist destinations, including several islands, and extends over the City of Zagreb and 18 counties.
At the beginning of 2015, HEP began the cycle of building charging stations in Croatian cities by following the provisions of Directive 2014/94 / EU on the establishment of alternative fuel infrastructure, which by 2020 provides for the availability of filling stations for every 50 kilometres of motorways, in all cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, in all maritime, airports and inland ports, as well as at railway and bus stations.
Yes, we’ve all heard those embarrassing mistakes whilst ordering our morning coffee at the café bar, but keep out tongues in our heads to remain polite, but in general the millions of tourists that visit Croatia every year are greeted with a very high level of English.
English is taught from the first year of primary school across Croatia, so this good base combined with the opportunity to practise on a daily basis with tourists means that Croatians generally have a very good level of English. If you are applying for a job in tourism in many of the tourist destinations along the coast you won’t be asked if you speak English, it is simply assumed that you do.
And now Croatians have received some official confirmation of their English level with a new list produced by the World Economic Forum. Croatia has been placed in the list as “very high proficiency” and is the 14th most proficient country in the world.
English language skills, according to WEF, are declining in some of Europe's leading economies. Of the four largest European economies (France, Germany, Spain and Italy), only the Germans speak English very well and are part of the group with Croatia.
At the top of this list are the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and Croatia is last in the group of the highest ranking.
The grey clouds finally broke over Dubrovnik this Sunday afternoon and instead of the dull rain the city was bathed in sunshine.
Winter is certainly on the way and even though a few brave swimmers were spotted in the Adriatic this afternoon temperatures are cooling down almost on a daily basis, but with only 45 days left until Christmas it is to be expected. Highs today hit 18 degrees but in the sunshine it felt like the mid-twenties. And the Adriatic Sea is a tad over 20 degrees.
A handful of tourists almost had the stone streets of the ancient Old City to themselves and the city walls were the exact opposite of the crowds in the summer season.
Check out our photo gallery of Sunday afternoon in Dubrovnik
The summer season has come to an end, the crowds have died down and the time has come to invest into Dubrovnik’s infrastructure. The latest project is the installation of ten new bus stops together with canopies and seats throughout the city. These new bus stops are being set up at places where canopies, from both the rain and sun, didn’t exist before.
The type of waiting room is selected depending on the spatial capabilities of each location. Thus, a closed waiting room with two front windows has been installed in Bosanka settlement, while the other bus stops are smaller shelters.
Work on the installation of new bus waiting areas and canopies should be completed within the next week. With this investment, worth a total of 384,000 Kuna, citizens will receive more appropriate conditions at bus stops that were not previously covered.
The recent changeable weather in Dubrovnik has seen rain, sunshine, wind and glorious sunshine. It has been a period of four seasons in one day, with people still swimming between the thunder storms.
And as well as stunning rainbows that seem to be a daily occurrence in the Dubrovnik skies there have been a number of fascinating weather phenomena. Yesterday the angry skies over the Adriatic in front of the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace twisted up this incredible sight. The moment was captured by Mislav Bilic and his photo is truly impressive.
Croatians are second bottom of the European Union in terms of life satisfaction. According to a new survey by Eurostat the Finnish are the most satisfied citizens in the European Union whilst Bulgarians are least happy.
In a survey carried out by Eurostat, the statistical wing of the EU, entitled “How satisfied are people with their lives?” “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life these days?” people across the European Union were asked.
On a scale from 0 (“not satisfied at all”) to 10 (“fully satisfied”), the mean (average) life satisfaction of EU residents aged 16 and over was 7.3 in 2018, an increase compared with 7.0 in 2013.
The highest life satisfaction was measured in Finland and Austria, with the Finns averaging 8.1 on the survey. Whilst the lowest was in Bulgaria which saw only 5.4 on the survey, followed by Croatia in second bottom position with 6.3, and Greece and Lithuania both with 6.4.