Brussels Still Waiting for Croatia’s Request to Finance Pelješac Bridge

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European Commission could finance as much as 85 percent of the total cost of the bridge.

The European Commission is still waiting to receive from Croatia an application for funding of the construction of the Pelješac Bridge which has been planned now for 13 years. Government in Zagreb says that the request is being prepared, but that it does not know when it could reach Brussels, reports Večernji List on October 18, 2016.

Croatian government expects that the European Commission will finance 85 percent of the total cost of the 2 billion kuna project which includes the bridge with connecting roads. The rest would be paid by Croatian taxpayers. “This is what Croatian authorities want. At this moment, we cannot confirm this ratio because we are still waiting for an official notification of the project and the feasibility study”, says a source in Brussels who works on the financing of projects in Croatia. “I do not have any information when we might receive the application.” Another person from the same office said in October 2015 that they were “expecting to receive the application at the beginning of 2016”, which did not happen.

Although there is no immediate deadline, the application must reach Brussels by 2020, when the current seven-year financing period ends. Croatia has available in total about 51.7 billion kuna (6.8 billion euros), some of which should be spent for connecting the southern part of Croatia with the rest of the country by building the 2.4 kilometres long bridge between the mainland and the Pelješac peninsula, bypassing Bosnia and Herzegovina. At that location, Croatia is divided into two non-contiguous parts, so now people travelling from one part of Croatia to another need to pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina or use a ferry.

The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds says it will send to Brussels all the necessary documents as soon as it receives them from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure. David Radas from the office of the Transport Minister Butković says that they “cannot foresee any timeframe” for sending the application to the European Commission. “Both ministries have provided administrative support to Croatian Roads public company, which is implementing the project”, says Radas. Croatian Roads announced on 21 June a tender for construction companies interested in building the bridge. However, the tender was suspended on 7 October due to complaints of several participants.

Minister Butković said on 20 June that the construction could start in early 2017. “I believe that this is realistic”, says Nikola Dobroslavić, Prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County. “The government has declared that this project is of the highest priority, so I expect that all project phases will take place as planned”, he adds.

After Croatia sends an official application, the European Commission will have three months to reply, which should finally determine the fate of the project which was first mentioned in the election campaign in 2003, when it was promised by then HDZ president Ivo Sanader. Croatia will request from the European Commission to co-finance the project with the maximum share of 85 percent of the total value of the bridge and connecting roads.


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