The Croatian Tax Authority has issued several relevant opinions regarding the taxation of virtual currencies. Since 2015 the Croatian Tax Authority, in line with the European Court of Justice's Skatteverket decision, has exempted virtual currency exchange services from value added tax, established relevant tax treatments for the mining and trading of virtual currencies and provided its opinion on payments in virtual currencies.
Virtual currencies and attempts to categorise them have attracted widespread attention. For virtual currencies to be considered electronic money under the Electronic Money Act, they must follow certain rules, including being stored electronically, representing a monetary value and being issued on receipt of funds. However, the Croatian National Bank has warned that trading and paying in virtual currencies cannot be considered payment services under the Payment System Act.
The current Act on Preventing Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Financing Terrorism does not regulate crypto-assets. However, the proposed new bill on Preventing AML and Financing Terrorism intends to regulate crypto-assets and require legal and natural persons providing exchange services for virtual and fiduciary currencies or wallet custodial services to comply therewith.
The Act on Nullity of Loans with an International Element Concluded in the Republic of Croatia was created following a period of time wherein certain foreign credit unions continually granted loans to Croatian borrowers. As a result, some consumer organisations pushed to have such loans annulled in order to stop the ongoing enforcement procedures over Croatian borrowers' assets. However, concerns over the act have been raised, including the fact that it is unconstitutional and contravenes EU law.
Over the past few years, European and national institutions have warned about the negative effects of unfair trading practices in the supply chain. In order to tackle these and regulate the risk of abuse, several countries have enacted distinct trade laws. Croatia recently followed suit by adopting a new Act on the Prohibition of Unfair Trading Practices in the Business-to-Business Food Supply Chain. The act defines the concept of 'significant buyer power', as well as different types of illegal behaviour.
In July 2015 the Competition Agency received an initiative to initiate proceedings against Ytong porobeton (YP) for alleged abuse of its dominant position. YP rejected all of the assertions against it, arguing that the relevant market had been incorrectly determined. Based on expert opinions, the agency concluded that YP was not dominant on the relevant market and thus that it had not abused its dominant position.
In a recent case the Competition Agency for the first time accepted the proposed commitments in a case conducted under the qualification of a prohibited agreement, even though all the characteristics of a prohibited horizontal agreement limiting competition were present. By accepting the commitments, the agency abandoned its previous position in favour of a more lenient one.
In a recent ruling by the Croatian Competition Agency (CCA), a decision by the Croatian Insurance Bureau to revoke the power of an insurer to issue motor certificates was found not to constitute a prohibited agreement. Irrespective of this, the CCA noted that it is not the role of undertakings to control the operation of their competitors, and that the parties involved should have reported the insurer if they thought it had breached the law.
The Competition Agency is improving its track record in competition law enforcement. One recent decision concerned a cartel of marina operators which exchanged information on future pricing policies for berthing services. Although the parties agreed not to raise the prices of their services (or to raise them minimally), the information exchange was deemed sufficient for the agency to render a statement of objections.
The second of three planned onshore licencing rounds for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Croatia is currently underway. Seven exploration blocks in southwest and central Croatia and central Slavonia have been offered in this bidding round. After the tender procedure has been completed and the most successful bidder has been selected, the Croatian government will issue a decision on awarding an onshore exploration and exploitation licence for each of the seven blocks.
The government recently adopted a number of amendments to the Act on Renewable Energy Sources and High-Efficiency Cogeneration. According to the government, the amendments aim to harmonise national law with the EU legal framework, introduce an integration process for eligible producers of renewable electricity and high-efficiency cogeneration on the electricity market and reduce the obligation on suppliers to purchase renewables at a regulated price that is higher than the market price.
The Krk liquefied natural gas terminal project changed course when the government decided to construct a floating terminal instead of the initially planned land-based terminal. The reason for this decision was to make the terminal operationally faster and reduce costs, since it was clear that the deadlines for making the land-based terminal operation were unattainable. Since the deadlines for building the terminal are short, LNG Croatia is simultaneously undertaking several activities in order to meet them.
As part of its goals, the Act on Amendments to the Gas Market Act sets out a new gas market model. Under the new gas model, on receiving a proposal from the ministry and following approval from the Gas Regulatory Agency, the government will set the maximum price for gas, according to which the wholesale supplier must sell gas to retail suppliers for households. It remains to be seen how this new gas market model will affect consumers, the economy and the overall gas market.
The relationship between INA (the national oil and gas company) and MOL (Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc) goes back to 2003, when INA was privatised through a public procurement process. However, the Croatian government and MOL are in two international disputes over INA. Following a recent decision, the prime minister announced that the government will initiate the process to buy-out MOL's shares in INA.
The European Commission's recent communication shows that only two member states have adopted the national legislation required to implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Others, Croatia included, are at different stages of the process. To meet the May 25 2018 deadline, Croatia should promptly address its national approach to open issues – in particular, its policies surrounding administrative fines.