EU Criticises Croatia’s Spending on War Veterans

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The European Commission says that the veterans are “a privileged category.”

The European Commission (EC), in its latest report on the so-called European Semester for 2018, focuses sharply and negatively on the benefits enjoyed by war veterans in Croatia, reports on March 7, 2018.

In the 73 page report dedicated to Croatia, on page 37 the European Commission says that “the authorities have proposed to further extend the benefits granted to war veterans and their family members, resulting in further increases of their pension ceilings. Little progress has been made to support war veterans’ re-integration into the labour market.”

The European Commission continues that “the law adopted by government in November 2017 reopens the possibility to register as war veteran, reduces their retirement age and extends the rights of family members to inherit veterans’ pensions. The law also introduces a number of additional social benefits for veterans and mandatory financing of veterans’ associations (in the range of 0.3-1.0 % of local government budgets). General pensions for war veterans tend to be more than twice as high compared to the general scheme.”

The Commission explicitly describes veterans as “a privileged category” and notes that Croatia’s social welfare system is functioning poorly, because it is not targeted at those most in need, with the money instead being spent on privileged veterans.

For several years now, the EC has warned in its reports that the benefits of Croatian war veterans are economically questionable and socially unjust. In the report for the European Semester 2016, the European Commission wrote that “some general schemes apply strict criteria including asset- and/or means tests and ceilings such as the Guaranteed Minimum Benefit (GMB). Other schemes targeted at special categories such as war veterans and their families apply a more universal approach.”

“In addition, the benefits under special schemes also tend to be higher than comparable benefits under general schemes. Hence, the current design of the system seems to be undermining its effectiveness, in terms of both its fairness and adequacy. The situation could be improved by unifying eligibility criteria and further consolidating benefits,” wrote the EC.

In 2016, the EC further concluded that, in Croatia, “only a marginal share of the social protection budget is spent on the most vulnerable groups.”

However, instead of correcting this imbalance, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Veterans Affairs Minister Tomo Medved have pushed for a new law that gave veterans even more funds, contrary to the recommendations of the European Commission.

Translated from (reported by Gordan Duhaček).


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