Meet The Little Croatian Towns Setting Examples with EU Projects

Lauren Simmonds

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of August, 2019, EU funds are now imperative for certain segments of Croatian prosperity and primarily for regional development, and data from the Ministry of Finance shows the amount of funds withdrawn back in 2018.

According to the portal, referring to the competent ministry’s unconsolidated data (there are no visible institutions and companies of cities or only cities as partners, so the amount is higher), in 2018 as many as 97 Croatian cities withdrew more than 314 million kuna, three times more than was recorded back in 2017. The amount of European Union support per capita is tenfold, with Komiža on Vis reaching as much as 2,505 kuna, in Pleternica 1,222, and in Lipik – 1,157 kuna per capita.

This is a significant shift, especially since Croatia is one of the less developed countries, and is located in one of the less developed regions of the EU. The most successful recapitalisation of all Croatian cities remains the most successful the Northern Adriatic city of Rijeka, with a share of more than ten percent. Osijek and Pleternica follow.

“We knew that we’d be able to count on EU funds, which is why we had a large number of ready, well prepared projects and used the opportunity that was given to us,” said Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel, according to the aforementioned portal. Koprivnica’s mayor, Mišel Jakšić, agrees entirely.

“This year was a record year for us when it comes to attracting European Union funds. Currently, the city has contracted 23 projects worth 61.7 million kuna, from the reconstruction of roads and energy renovations of schools and kindergartens to investments in the education system. We’re the first Croatian city to have implemented the so-called innovative green public procurement through an EU project, “said Jakšić.

Ludbreg and Zadar proved to be the most successful Croatian cities in the five years of the first financial period – Ludbreg withdrew an average of 554 kuna per capita per year, and this year alone, they applied for projects worth 18 million kuna, with a focus on environmental protection and landfill remediation.

In Ludbreg, they have completed more than 40 projects in five years and continue at full steam. An 18 million kuna project will also get going there – the construction of an archeological park, ie, the reconstruction of ancient spas and the construction of a museum. This project, which should further enrich the tourist offer of the city of Ludbreg, should be completed in one year.

In five years, Zadar has gained more than a seven percent share. The projects in that city in coastal Dalmatia are aimed at rebuilding cultural and social centres; and with the reconstruction of two palaces, it became yet another Croatian UNESCO city, while further projects focused primarily on entrepreneurship.

Some of the most successful projects are being implemented by Šibenik, which this year started with the revitalisation of the Fortress of Sv. Ivan, worth a massive 49 million kuna, and, with the help of 41 million kuna from the Regional Development Fund, with the largest project of drainage and sewerage system design to date, which will make it a city with 99 percent of the population coverage by the water supply.

To briefly recall, in the 2014-2020 financial period from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Fund, Croatia has a total of 10.676 billion kuna available to it, of which 8.38 billion kuna is for cohesion policy objectives, 2.026 billion kuna is for agriculture and rural development, and 253 million kuna is for fisheries and their development.

According to data from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, since June, nearly two billion euros have been entered into the Croatian state budget. More than 88 percent of the total allocated funds were announced, 68 percent were contracted, 22 percent were paid to their end users, and 18 percent were certified.

Although Croatia, as the youngest member of the EU, has encountered more than one stumbling block in the road, it seems that the country has nevertheless caught up in terms of European Union funds, seeing them as an important source of funding.

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