Croatia

   

Executive Capacity

#39
Key Findings
Lacking a smoothly functioning administration, Croatia falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with respect to executive capacity. Its score in this area has declined by 0.4 points relative to its 2014 level.

Strategic decisions are often made on a pro forma basis, and lack follow-through. Strategic planning diminishes in the run-up to elections. A Prime Minister’s Office unit tasked with coordinating line-ministry polices has limited capacity to provide policy analysis. Interministerial coordination and communication is of poor quality, requiring frequent cabinet-level intervention.

A relatively new RIA law and RIA strategy have improved the assessment framework, though only a small share of bills undergo the full RIA procedure, and the public has little interest in the process. Ex post evaluations are rare. A web-based consultation process led to changes in a key conflict-of-interest bill, but the trade unions have pulled out of the tripartite social-partner dialogue framework.

Ministry communications are often contradictory, requiring public reversals. Enforcement of regulations is politicized and subject to corruption, creating conditions of clientelism and regulatory capture. Laws are often passed hastily, leading to low-quality texts. Funding for local governments has been increased.

Strategic Capacity

#36

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
4
Since joining the European Union in 2013, strategic-planning capacity in Croatia has increased substantially, in part due to the learning process that took place during the accession period, but also thanks to Croatia’s inclusion in the EU strategic-planning exercise organized within the framework of the European Semester. Moreover, many local and regional self-government units have realized that success in drawing EU funds largely depends on the quality of strategic planning.

Despite the introduction of new institutional and procedural arrangements, policymaking in Croatia continues to be dominated by short-term political interests. Strategic decisions are still very often made pro forma, lack political support and end up being shelved. Also, in numerous cases, strategies are inconsistent and lack some of the elements that strategic documents should contain. A good case in point has been the fate of the National Development Strategy 2030, announced by the second Plenković government as an umbrella strategy. Back in 2017/18, interest associations and ordinary citizens were invited to provide their input with much acclaim. Originally announced for June 2019, however, the strategy is yet to be completed, and the government and other key stakeholders have gradually stopped referring to it. As Croatia has now entered a long electoral cycle – with presidential elections in December 2019/January 2020, followed by parliamentary elections planned for autumn 2020 and local elections in 2021 – daily politics has trumped long-term strategic planning.

Citations:
Petak, Z. (2018) Policy-Making Context and Challenges of Governance in Croatia, in: Z. Petak, K. Kotarski (eds.), Policy-Making at the European Periphery: The Case of Croatia. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 29-45.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
4
The 2009 Societal Consultation Codex, which serves as a set of guidelines for the policymaking process, mentions the consultation of academic experts. In practice, however, the involvement of academic experts in the policymaking process remains rare. Moreover, it is largely limited to the early phases of policy formulation and does not extend to the final drafting of legislation, let alone the monitoring of implementation.

Interministerial Coordination

#40

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
3
Until 2014, the Prime Minister’s Office lacked a central policy unit able to evaluate and coordinate the activities of the line ministries. At the beginning of 2014, a unit for public policy coordination and support to the prime minister was established in the Prime Minister’s Office. The unit is tasked with coordinating and monitoring public polices performed by line ministries. However, the capacity of the staff to provide reliable applied policy analysis is limited.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
4
Line ministries consult with the government’s Legislation Office, but this consultation is mostly formal, focusing on technical and drafting issues. Ministries normally enjoy huge leeway in transforming government priorities into legislation, and there is no stable and transparent arbitration scheme that would give the Prime Minister’s Office a formal role in settling interministerial differences.

The involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the preparation of policy proposals has been complicated by the large number of ministries. During the era of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Croatia had only 14 ministries. By contrast, the second Plenković government consists of 20 ministries, the third highest number in the European Union.

Citations:
Giljević, Z. (2015): Utjecaj okoline organizacije na upravu koordinaciju: Ministarstvo uprave kao studija slučaja (The Influence of Organizational Environment on Administrative Coordination: Croatian Ministry of Public Administration as a Case Study), in: Hrvatska i komparativna javna uprava 15(4): 875-908.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
6
The rules of procedure of the Croatian government provide for different kinds of cabinet committees and assign a major role in policy coordination to them. The prime minister and the vice prime ministers form the core cabinet (Uži kabinet vlade). In addition, there are various permanent and non-permanent cabinet committees that focus on particular issues. As there is little ex ante coordination among ministries, controversies are often pushed upwards, with cabinet committees playing an important role in resolving conflicts. However, the quality of coordination suffers from the fact that cabinet committees are absorbed by these disputes and other matters of detail.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
4
The direct coordination of policy proposals by ministries is limited. There is no stable and transparent scheme for settling interministerial differences within the bureaucracy. The ministries in charge of drafting proposals rarely set up working groups that include peers from other ministries or government bodies. Deadlines for comments by other ministries are often too abbreviated, capacities for comments are sometimes inadequate, and comments made by other ministries are often not taken seriously.

Citations:
Musa, A., Petak, Z. (2015): Coordination for Policy in Transition Countries: Case of Croatia, in: Mednarodna revija za javno upravo/International Public Administration Review 13(3-4): 117-159.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
4
Informal coordination both between the coalition partners and between different party factions in the HDZ has played an important role in interministerial coordination under the Plenković government. The strong reliance on decisions in coalition meetings or party bodies has helped maintain the tradition of keeping strategic decisions and policy coordination largely within the political parties’ ambit, preventing the development of more formal and transparent mechanisms of policy coordination or a strengthening of the public administration’s role.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
4
The digitalization of public administration is an undisputed goal of the government, but has not proceeded smoothly. The Croatian government established the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society in 2016. One of the basic tasks of the Office has been to bundle the existing 28 different digitalization strategies within an umbrella strategy that allows for the co-funding of initiatives from EU funds in the next Multiannual EU Financial Framework for the years 2021 – 2027. As it stands, the effective use of digital technologies in government and administration is hindered by fragmentation and the tendency to subject such issues to laborious bureaucratic processes in organizational siloes. . As a result, digital technologies do not play a major role in interministerial coordination.

Evidence-based Instruments

#32

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
5
The EU accession process has accelerated the development of RIA in Croatia. In July 2011, the Kosor government adopted a RIA bill and re-established the Government Office for Coordination of the Regulatory Impact Assessment System that had been abolished in July 2009 as a reaction to populist critique. In accordance with the RIA Action Plan for 2013 – 2015, the office became a department of the government’s Legislation Office, and RIA implementation coordinators were appointed in all ministries. Since 2012, all government bodies have been obliged to prepare annual regulatory plans specifying which of their planned regulations should undergo a RIA. A new RIA law passed in 2017 requires a full RIA to be carried out for all new laws that will potentially have a large environmental or social impact. In addition, a Regulatory Impact Assessment Strategy for 2018 – 2023 has sought to improve the implementation of RIA. While progress has been made in strengthening the regulatory policy framework, only a small number of bills undergo the complete RIA procedure. According to the government’s report on conducted legislative activities, only 17 out of 68 laws planned to be passed in 2018 were subject to RIA. Moreover, RIA documents are generally of low quality, particularly the parts identifying options and analyzing effects. This has in part to do with the fact that state administration bodies have limited professional and analytical capacities. The professional and administrative capacities of the Legislation Office are insufficient to ensure the application of the RIA system and quality control of RIA documents.

Citations:
Petak, Z. (2015): Evidence-Based Policy Making and the Implementation of Regulatory Impact Assessment in Croatia, in: Management and Business Administration: Central Europe 23(2): 147-162.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
4
In Croatia, there is no independent body that evaluates RIA assessments on a regular basis. However, stable partnerships with representatives of the business community (Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Croatian Employers Association, Croatian Chamber of Crafts, Croatian Banking Association), some civil society organizations (Croatian Law Center, Croatian Youth Network, Forum for Quality Foster Care, Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development) and unions (Trade Union of Textile, Footwear, Leather and Rubber Industry) provide for the involvement of stakeholders. The openness of the RIA process and the transparency of RIA results differ among ministries. Some ministries have opened the entire RIA process to the public, asking stakeholders for feedback to their bill drafts. Other ministries ignore the importance of getting feedback from the public, thereby undermining the effectiveness of the whole RIA project. The public itself does not seem to be very interested in the RIA process. It often questions its necessity and mocks it.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
4
Croatia adopted a sustainability strategy in 2009. However, neither this strategy nor the RIA Strategy or subsequent RIA action plans provide for comprehensive sustainability checks. RIAs are supposed to consider a broad range of impacts, including fiscal, economic, social and environmental, but the actual quality of assessments is low. There is no systematic differentiation between the short, medium and long term.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
3
The process of Europeanization and Croatia’s EU membership have opened the space for the use of evaluation studies in Croatian public administration at the central and local government levels. Methods and theoretical approaches to evaluation are exchanged through the Croatian Evaluation Network, which is comprised of experts interested in evaluation practice. However, Croatian policymakers are yet to introduce effective ex post evaluation mechanisms for the already passed legislative and regulatory measures. Thus, ex post evaluations of significant policies are rarely carried out, and are even more rarely used by policymakers as a source of evidence and inspiration. If ex post evaluations are carried out, the success indicators tend to be too general and insufficiently precise.

Societal Consultation

#35

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
4
Consultation of societal actors in Croatia has been governed by the 2009 Societal Consultation Codex. It has been strengthened with the introduction of the government’s Central Web Portal for Public Consultations in 2015. According to the Right of Access to Information Act of 2013, all government proposals for regulations related to citizens’ interests have to be submitted for comments via this portal. In the period under review, critical comments by the scientific community and the general public on the web platform led the government to withdraw the envisaged amendments to the law on the prevention of conflict of interest, which would have reduced the prerogatives of the parliamentary commission on conflict of interest. The second major instrument for societal consultation – the tripartite dialogue between representatives of the government, employers’ associations and trade unions, the Economic and Social Council (ESC) – has continued to be marked by a lack of trust and respect. The trade unions left the ESC in April 2019, following a dispute with the government over the role of the ESC and have not participated in its work since then.

Policy Communication

#38

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
3
The Prime Minister’s Office is formally responsible for policy coordination and the communication of policy to the general public through the Public Relations Service. In practice, however, ministries have often followed their own communication strategies, only to reverse their stance following criticism from the Prime Minister’s Office or other line ministries. This was best exemplified during the longest strike in Croatia’s history, which was orchestrated by teachers’ trade unions in 2019. The Ministry of Education and PMO were not communicating effectively in developing a coherent and common set of proposals for the negotiation process.

Implementation

#39

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
4
During his first year in office, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced far-reaching reforms. The HDZ’s election program served as the basis for a relatively comprehensive National Reform Program presented to the European Commission in April 2017. However, the program lacked a clear schedule and its implementation has suffered from the Agrokor crisis and the mid-2017 change in the governing coalition. The tax reform adopted at the end of 2016 was the only major reform implemented during Plenković’s first year in office. However, even this reform was implemented only partially, as the government gave up the already prepared introduction of a property tax in June 2017. As for pensions and healthcare, the Plenković government came up with reforms only in autumn 2018. The announced reform of public administration has progressed slowly.

The limited effectiveness of the Plenković government is also reflected in the 2019 European Commission’s European Semester report. According to the report, the level of implementation of the recommendations submitted to successive Croatian governments between 2014 and 2017 (i.e., Milanović, Orešković and Plenković governments) is rather low. Only 51% of all country-specific recommendations addressed to Croatia have recorded at least “some progress,” while the remaining 49% of recommendations have recorded “limited” or “no progress.” Reform activity in relation to key structural policy areas has stalled in recent years.

In 2018, Plenković’s government continued the legacy of previous governments of passing multiple laws according to the urgent procedure, albeit to a lesser extent than in previous years. In 2018, 48% of laws were passed within the urgent procedure that requires only one reading by the parliament. Unfortunately, the intense use of this procedure significantly downgrades the overall quality of laws passed. Hence, there is a wide range of laws that have been amended several times, such as the disputed Enforcement Act. All of this testifies to the low effectiveness and uncertainty present in a large array of government decisions.

Citations:
European Commission (2018): Country report Croatia 2019 Including an In-Depth Review of the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances. SWD(2019) 1010 final, Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/2019-european-semester-country-report-croatia_en).

Kotarski, Kristijan (2019) http://www.hanns-seidel-stiftung.com.hr/assets/images/uploads/euro_introduction_to_croatia.pdf

https://zakonodavstvo.gov.hr/UserDocsImages//dokumenti//190509%20UZ%20Izvjesce%20PZA%20VRH%202018%20final%20za%20web.pdf

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
5
As the strong conflicts within the governing coalition (between HDZ and Most-NL) and the weak policy record of the Plenković government show, the organization of government of the first Plenković government provided only weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program. The situation has not changed significantly under the second Plenković government. Interministerial coordination and regular communication between relevant ministries are very rare and of poor quality. As a result, numerous issues that the ministries should deal with eventually end up on the prime minister’s desk. This substantially reduces the ministries’ capacity for autonomous – full or partial – implementation of the government policies they are entrusted with. All this also slows down the whole policy-implementation process because the prime minister has to deal with too many less important issues instead of concentrating on the strategic development of government policies.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
4
The Secretariat General of the Government is just one of the central-government organizations involved in monitoring the activities of line ministries. Its restrictive remit constitutes a major capacity gap. More important has been the Ministry of Finance, as the 2010 Fiscal Responsibility Act has given it far-reaching powers to monitor the activities of any organization drawing funds from the central budget.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
4
Croatia has about 75 executive agencies, six of which are regulatory agencies. The tasks of these agencies are determined by law. The two most important monitoring instruments are certain reporting requirements and the representation of ministers or senior civil servants on the agencies’ management boards. Reports are not based on redefined performance indicators but are more a loose and often self-congratulatory review of agencies’ activities in the past year. They are seldom discussed after publication. As a result, the agencies enjoy a relatively large amount of discretion and face primarily political constraints. The proliferation of agencies has been a source of waste and inefficiency. The Orešković government continued the evaluation of agencies begun under the Milanović government and eventually proposed the elimination of nine agencies. Under the first Plenković government, this proposal was not implemented. The second Plenković government eventually came up with its own reform proposal in August 2018. The proposal aimed to downsize public administration by reforming 54 public organizations, including state agencies, state institutions and state-owned enterprises, which will be either closed, or merged with other agencies or within line ministries. Agencies will be brought within a new framework, which will involve a higher degree of homogeneity across the system. A continuing problem is the lack of a publicly accessible online list of all executive agencies and their annual reports, which would enable any changes to their number, size or functioning to be tracked.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
The division of competencies between central and subnational governments has been relatively stable. By far the most important revenue source of subnational governments is the personal-income tax, which contributes about 90% of all tax revenues and slightly more than half of total revenues. The remaining taxes account for only around 6% of total revenue, the most important being the property tax (approximately 3.3% of total revenue). The second most important source of revenue is the various types of administrative fees (user charges being the most significant among them, as they collectively make up approximately 17% of total subnational revenues). Grants from the central government (often administered via counties) and various assistance funds from abroad rank third. Finally, about 8% of subnational governments’ revenues derive from the various types of property they own (business premises, apartments).

Strong regional and local differences have long hindered subnational governments from being properly financed. Many municipalities and towns, most of them in rural areas, are poor and therefore face severe difficulties in providing public services. In addition, due to a lack of consistent long-term policies, the allocation of central government grants is complex, unclear and subject to sporadic alteration. Although local government units have substantial autonomy in providing services related to economic activity, preschool education, and culture, sports and religious activities, they have limited autonomy in financing such responsibilities because the proceeds from tax sharing and central government grants are earmarked. Moreover, many public services depend on financing from both central and local government levels, undermining their coherent delivery. In 2018, the Plenković government decided to give up income tax revenue in favor of municipalities and cities. This has enhanced municipalities’ and cities’ fiscal capacity.

Citations:
Koprić, I., A. Musa, V. Dulabić (2016): Local government and local public services in Croatia, in: H. Wollmann, I. Koprić, G. Marcou (eds.), Public and social services in Europe: from Public and municipal to private sector provision. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 201-215.

Bajo, A., M. Primorac (2018): Croatia: instruments of fiscal equalisation, in: W. Bartlett, S. Kmezic and K. Djulic (eds.), Fiscal Decentralisation, Local Government and Policy Reversals in Southeastern Europe, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 53-80.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
4
The autonomy of local and regional self-government units is very limited. In violation of the European Charter on Local Self-Government, local units are usually not allowed to regulate and expand their autonomous scope of activities on their own. In the case of activities devolved to local self-government units by the central government, a central-government body issues instructions to county prefects and mayors. The Ministry of Administration can dissolve the representative bodies of local or regional self-government units if they violate the constitution or laws. “Lex Šerif,” a special law passed in 2017, strengthened mayors vis-à-vis local assemblies by allowing mayors to dissolve the assemblies when they do not adopt budgets. This was an attempt on behalf of the ruling HDZ to provide more power to mayors from their own ranks in the face of growing political fragmentation in local assemblies since 2017 election.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
2
There are no national standards for public services in Croatia. Modern systems for the improvement of service quality such as ISO, EFQM or similar public-management standards are not implemented in the Croatian public sector. Moreover, the productivity, efficiency and quality of local self-government units are not systematically measured, and local-government budgets are currently monitored only on the basis of the economic purposes of local-government spending, rather than on its outcomes. There is not even a catalogue of services that local and regional self-government units (municipalities, towns, countries) should provide to the local community. The absence of clear national standards is felt particularly in the field of social policy. Here, the implementation of central-government regulation has differed strongly among municipalities. Some have even ignored legal requirements such as the provision in the Act on Social Welfare that municipalities should use 5% of their budgets for housing allowances for socially marginalized groups.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
4
Ensuring impartial enforcement of the law and implementation of regulations by public administration bodies independently of the political, economic or social interests of those subject to regulation is a significant problem in Croatia. The underlying reasons lie in the existence of interest groups that enjoy strong protection through political patronage and in the corruptive tendencies of a part of the street-level bureaucracies dealing with the enforcement of regulation (i.e., inspectorates, tax administration, land registry administration, etc.) The politicization of the civil service and weak governance structures have led to the prevalence of institutions of clientelism and regulatory capture. The introduction of the State Inspectorate in 2018, which encompasses 17 previously independent inspectorates, has failed to ensure compliance.

Adaptability

#30

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
5
Croatia’s accession to the European Union and NATO has been accompanied by substantial changes in domestic government structures, ranging from the reintroduction of RIA to the passage of the Societal Consultation Codex and the strengthening of capacities for policy coordination. However, the ability of the Croatian administration to absorb the newly available EU funds has remained limited, and the Plenković government has done little to adapt domestic government structures to international and supranational developments. In 2019, some cosmetic changes were made to the governance structure. State administration offices in 21 Croatian counties were revoked and some of their competencies transferred to counties. Unfortunately, this reform will not significantly decrease the out-sized public administration apparatus. The reform only entails the reshuffling of competencies and personnel, and will not alter structures or processes.

Citations:
Puljiz, J., Maleković, S., Keser, I. (2018): Cohesion Policy in Croatia: What Have We Accomplished so Far? in: Z. Petak, K. Kotarski (eds.), Policy-Making at the European Periphery: The Case of Croatia. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 285-302.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
5
Croatia has supported major global reform initiatives, especially in environmental affairs. However, the Plenković governments have not paid much attention to improving the country’s capacity to engage in global affairs or to assessing the global repercussions of national policies. Unlike her predecessor, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović has not been very active in improving cooperation with the other successor states of the former Yugoslavia.

Organizational Reform

#32

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
4
There is no regular self-monitoring of the institutional arrangements of Croatian governments. Public organizations are supposed to prepare annual reports, but often fail to do so, and do not use these reports to examine deficiencies.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
Upon taking office, the first Plenković government slightly changed the cabinet structure. In April 2017, it created a new expert council, the Council for Demographic Revival. The change in the governing coalition in mid-2017 has led to changes in ministers but has left the cabinet structure untouched. In the period under review, little progress was made in reforming public administration.

Citations:
Koprić, I. (2018): Croatia, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 100-140 (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/97f87f51-9608-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1).
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