Djuro Lubura Talks Digital Nomads, 5G, Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, back at the beginning of the year, a new Law on Foreigners came into force in Croatia, according to which digital nomads can be granted a stay of one year. TCN has been actively involved in that process and more can be read in our dedicated section on it.

Among other things, the condition is that the person isn’t a Croatian citizen, that they’re performing work through telecommunication technologies, but not for an employer from Croatia, that they have health insurance and that they aren’t a threat to the constitutional order. Court and new technologies expert Djuro Lubura commented on the topic of digital nomads, regulations and the introduction of 5G in a recent interview.

Digital nomads

”A person who wants to be a digital nomad and fulfills all the conditions, can submit their request for a temporary residence permit in the consular mission of Croatia in their country or at a competent police administration. The stay is limited in time probably because by law, the digital nomad is included among the other categories of temporary residence that already exist.

According to current interpretations, it won’t be possible for them to extend their stay on that basis. I don’t believe anyone will decide on such a complication in life. In Croatia, with the demographics it has, everyone should be welcome, especially highly educated and professional people like digital nomads,” believes Djuro Lubura.

As the coronavirus pandemic has confirmed, a large number of jobs can be done remotely, and Djuro Lubura expects that with the application of modern technologies and better infrastructure, we can expect further opening of new freedom for both employees and company owners/employers.

“The winners will be those countries that adapt and pass more liberal and flexible laws for digital nomads. Those who don’t adapt will face additional depopulation. Croatia must not gamble on its chance here. One of the most important changes in the direction of enabling the development of new technologies and business models based on them is the liberalisation of the taxi market.

Prime Minister Plenkovic and Minister Butkovic proposed to the Parliament a law that was supported by as many as two thirds of MPs, and brought the arrival of Uber and then other platforms that enable cheaper and more accessible taxi transport to the country. The Croatian solution for the liberalisation of the taxi market is being copied by numerous European countries.

The law that liberalised the taxi market has led to significantly lower prices in taxi services and new employment, and today we have about 8,000 taxi vehicles operating throughout Croatia, twice as many as there were before this new law came into force,” Lubura explained.

“When the state liberalised the taxi market, it sent out a signal that it was open to new technologies and business models, Glovo, Wolt and other platforms started operating in Croatia, which brought significant benefits to both residents and the economy in the food delivery market,” he added.

Lubura believes that in the future, Croatia should enable the testing of autonomous vehicles on its roads and thus facilitate the development not only of Rimac Automobili, but also attract many other companies. Preparations are also underway for an auction of the radio frequency spectrum that will enable the introduction of 5G technology, and all telecom operators in Croatia – HT, A1 and Telemach – are currently testing out 5G.

The importance of mobile networks

“We expect even higher investments in both fixed and mobile networks. Croatia is already at the top of the list of countries with the best mobile communication networks in all of Europe, while when it comes to fixed networks we have some room for improvement, especially outside densely populated areas. Telemach’s entry into the fixed communications market will lead to a better offer and lower service prices.

If the price of the spectrum is acceptable and if it’s all well designed enough to encourage operators to invest, of which I have no doubt because HAKOM, which implements these frequencies, is seriously looking into how it can encourage development and thus provide the state with a greater benefit, much of Croatia will be covered by state-of-the-art fifth-generation mobile networks. This will make Croatia even more attractive to digital nomads, but also to numerous startups with new ideas,” concluded Croatian tech expert Djuro Lubura.

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