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Croatia to get €9 billion in European cohesion policy



Young small business owner in Croatia
€1.7 billion from the European Regional and Development Fund will help to improve the skills of employees in small and medium-sized businesses in Croatia | Photo: Brooke Cagle

Croatia will receive a total of €9 billion from Cohesion Policy in 2021-2027 in the framework of its Partnership Agreement with the Commission to promote the economic, social and territorial cohesion of its regions and its green and digital transitions. These investments will help reduce regional economic disparities and enhance skills, training, and employment opportunities. The EU funds will also support the development of a competitive, innovative, and export-oriented Croatian economy.

The country will dedicate nearly 31% of European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) and 39% of Cohesion Fund resources to climate objectives. In particular, €2.56 billion will help the country improve energy efficiency, increase the share of renewables in energy production up to 60% of electricity in 2030, enhance the circular economy and support climate resilience and biodiversity. More than €650 million will be invested in this later objective.

Moreover, €179 million from the Just Transition Fund (JTF) will mitigate the economic and employment effects of the green transition. This will be done through decarbonising energy-intensive industries, strengthening entrepreneurship, and investing in skills of the workers, diversifying the economy in the most affected regions, enhancing cooperation between business and research, and increasing employment opportunities for the workforce.

€1.7 billion from the ERDF will support Croatia’s innovative and smart economic transformation by increasing the competitiveness and internationalisation of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and contributing to improve the skills of employees.

Investments will reach the whole territory of Croatia, including its poorest areas. Almost €500 million will help improve the international competitiveness of Croatian regions by facilitating their industrial transition. Additionally, 12% from the ERDF will be dedicated to urban development and around 3% to developing smart and sustainable islands. Mountainous areas will also receive increased support. In this way, EU funds will help all parts of Croatia to catch up with the more economically and socially developed capital, Zagreb, and with the most developed EU regions.

Nearly €1 billion will enhance regional, local, and cross-border mobility in all sectors, including developing a sustainable, smart, secure, and intermodal transport network linked to the Trans-European Network – TEN-T, as well as much-needed improvements in the national rail infrastructure, and further advancements in maritime transport in this coastal country.

“With this Partnership Agreement, Croatia makes a crucial step towards meeting its 2030 national social targets set in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. I welcome the strategic focus of the ESF+ investments, boosting quality jobs, providing workers with the skills they need to navigate today’s and tomorrow’s labour market, and investing substantial funding for social services that are key to social inclusion, including assistance to people with disabilities, healthcare, and long-term care.”, says Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights.

Almost €2.5 billion from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and ERDF will boost quality employment, skills, education, healthcare, and social services. Well-designed active employment support, in particular for women, young people and vulnerable groups, will go hand-in-hand with improving the capacity of labour market institutions, such as public employment services, including through digitalisation.

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World’s Youth for Climate Justice receives Carnegie Peace Prize



World's Youth for Climate Justice receives Carnegie Peace Prize
More than 120 students, diplomats and representatives of international organizations attended the event on December, 7th.

This week the international youth organization ‘World’s Youth for Climate Justice’ has been awarded the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize at the Peace Palace. The global youth movement received the prize for its dedicated efforts in fighting climate change by means of international law and for advocating climate justice. 

“The link between climate change and peace might not be the first one that comes to mind. However, it is a strong one. Consequences of climate change include an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, more frequent floods, wildfires and drought, that can lead to food insecurity, destruction of land and livelihood, and increased displacement – factors that foster conflict”, said Quint van Velthoven and Marijn Vodegel, from World’s Youth for Climate Justice, during their winner’s speech.

The event took place at the Great Hall of Justice, Hague, Netherlands, normally used as courtroom for the United Nations International Court of Justice, where more than 120 students, diplomats and representatives of international organizations gathered on December, 7th.

Jan van Zanen, mayor of The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, concluded the ceremony by underlining how important it is for young people’s voices to be heard: “Especially on a topic directly related to the future of today’s young people and generations to come. Young people should be at the table, locally, nationally and internationally.”

The Carnegie Foundation, owner and manager of the Peace Palace, and the Youth Peace Initiative award the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize every two years in order to garner best practices from young individuals or youth-led organizations and to put them in the spotlight. The prize recognizes the work of young peacebuilders and aims to encourage others to start their own projects. 

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San Cristóbal de La Laguna wins 2024 Access City Award



Winners of the 2024 Access City Award on the stage
Since 2010, the Access City Award celebrates cities that make accessibility their priority.

The Spanish city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna has received the 2024 Access City Award, for its comprehensive approach to accessibility and its improvement of the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The city has prioritised the accessibility of persons with disabilities across urban spaces, transportation systems, and social activities.

Some of the improvements in San Cristóbal de La Laguna includes all vehicles and all stations of the city’s tram network being fully accessible. And the city centre has acoustic traffic lights and tactile paving to guide visually impaired people.

In 2021, the municipality launched the Orange Point, a mobile space with resources for inclusive and accessible events. Orange Point provides sign language interpreters, anti-noise systems, and trained staff, as well as easy-to-read materials.

The city’s commitment to accessibility also includes the adoption of an institutional declaration for the defence of the rights of persons with disabilities to promote positive actions in this area. In addition, a disability council and an ombudsman for people with disabilities have been created.

Accessible spaces, both physical and digital, are a crucial first step towards achieving equality. Around 87 million people in the EU have a disability.

The city of Łódź (Poland) was awarded thesecond-place prize for implementing comprehensive standards of accessibility to guide all municipal investments, and the city of Saint-Quentin (France) won the third place for improving accessibility of the city’s public transport network.

In addition, Tübingen (Germany) received a special mention for its city development aligned with the principles of accessibility and the New European Bauhaus.

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EU journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck



EU Parliament journalism prize awarded for investigation into migrant boat shipwreck
A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating journalism.

A Greek, German and British consortium has won the 2023 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for investigating the Adriana shipwreck, which left over 600 migrants dead off Pylos in Greece.

The joint investigation by the Greek investigative outlet Solomon, in collaboration with Forensis, the German public broadcaster StrgF/ARD, and the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how the deadliest migrant shipwreck in recent history happened as a result of the actions taken by the Greek Coast Guard. It also reveals inconsistencies in the Greek authorities’ official accounts.

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno, Vice-President responsible for the Prize, and Juliane Hielscher, President of the Berlin Press Club and representative of the 28 members of the independent European-wide Jury, participated in the award ceremony held in the Daphne Caruana Galizia Press Room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“Today, as every year, we honour Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory with a prize that is a powerful reminder of her fight for truth and justice. Journalists around the world continue to be targeted just for doing their job, but they refuse to be silenced. This Parliament stands by their side in this long-standing battle to safeguard press freedom and media pluralism in Europe and beyond”, said Metsola.

When accepting the prize on behalf of the winning consortium, Iliana Papangeli of Solomon said: “The fatal event has forced us to confront questions about so-called European values and where the EU really stands on protecting human life – regardless of passport, ethnicity, race, gender, disability, or class. This joint investigation showed how violent and restrictive EU migration policies are, ultimately leading to a massive loss of life”.

Between 3 May and 31 July 2023, more than 700 journalists from the 27 EU countries submitted their stories for consideration. Twelve of these submissions were shortlisted by the jury before the overall winner was decided.

About the winning story

The investigation took an in-depth look into the events surrounding the loss of the fishing trawler Adriana on 14 June this year some 50 nautical miles off Pylos, in south-western Greece, killing over 600 migrants who had left Libya some days earlier.

Over 20 interviews were made with survivors, and court documents and coastguard sources were looked into. The findings detail missed rescue opportunities and offers of assistance that were ignored, whereas the survivors’ testimonies indicate that it was the attempts by the Greek coastguard to tow the trawler that ultimately caused its sinking. The Greek coastguard denied that it attempted to tow the trawler.

The fateful night was simulated by Forensis using interactive 3D modelling of the trawler thanks to data from the coastguard’s log and testimony of the coast guard vessel’s captain, as well as from flight paths, maritime traffic data, satellite imagery and videos taken by nearby shipping vessels and other sources.

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