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The Buzz in Croatia: Interview with Marija Zrno Prosic of CMS

The Buzz in Croatia: Interview with Marija Zrno Prosic of CMS

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“This year was not chaotic just due to Covid-19 or the earthquake that struck Zagreb,“ says CMS Partner Marija Zrno Prosic, “but also because of the parliamentary elections that were held in July.“ 

Still, Zrno Prosic reports that, with the ruling HDZ party winning again, significant change is unlikely. What is to be expected, she says, is a further digitalization overhaul of the way businesses communicate with courts. “There have been efforts to overhaul the system in order to allow the courts to deliver documents to businesses electronically – to cut costs, save time, and not have to have mail delivered in person,“ she says. “The pandemic halted this process a bit, but it is back on track now. The legislative work has been done and the framework is in place – all companies had to register an email address with the court register maintained by the commercial courts.“

Zrno Prosic reports that there are also efforts to digitalize court communication in terms of litigation as well. “In addition to registering their email address in the court register, the companies were supposed to apply for e-communication with the courts by September,” she says, "but with all the mess and the fallout of the crisis, not all of them have done it. I hope that now, as things slowly return to speed, that we’ll be able to achieve further digitalization goals.” Indeed, she says, to some extent the coronavirus was useful in this particular regard. “If anything, the pandemic lockdown proved that this is a viable option and that full communication with the courts and administrative bodies can be achieved digitally as well.“  

The tourism sector – the cornerstone of Croatia’s economy – has fared better than expected, Zrno Prosic reports. “Back in March and April nobody knew how this would play out over the summer, and even in early June things seemed grim,“ she says. “There are not enough domestic tourists to fill out all of the tourist capacities so expectations were pretty low. But it turned out that both July and August were so good that they exceeded all expectations. That plus packages of state aid to this sector — as for all of the most heavily impacted sectors — allowed us to weather the storm, for the most part.“ The number of new Covid-19 cases spiked in late August, she concedes, which “led to an early end of the peak of the tourism season,” but she says "it was still not as abysmal as it was initially projected.“ 

“Of course, there are consequences of the crisis that continue to impact our economy – especially small businesses – but there are strong indications that large companies have managed to restructure their operations to successfully minimize losses,“ Zrno Prosic reports. She believes that “the word of the year will be ’restructuring’ as we continue to move forward,“ and she says she has faith that there will be “significant investor interest in Croatia across the board.“