December 1, 2018 — Being a member of the world’s largest trading bloc has benefits, including nearly EUR 11 billion allocated for Croatia’s EU funds. If only the country actually used it.
Croatia has so far won approval on EUR 6.3 billion-worth of projects through Nov. 15, 2018, yet only 15 percent of those funds were actually doled out, well below the 23 percent EU average. Only Malta is worse, with 12 percent.
Croatia unlocked 59 percent of available EU funds since 2014, with only two years left to withdraw the remainder, according to the latest report on European Structural and Investment Funds.
The bloc’s governing body and Croatia’s government can’t agree on how to interpret the results. Minister Gabriela Žalac of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds said she’s satisfied with the results, after a poor start from 2014 — 2016.
The European Commission called the results “unsatisfactory,” according to Poslovni Dnevnik. The lackluster absorption of EU funding has been a black eye for successive governments.
A recent conference on EU funds concluded Croatian authorities need to better education about EU funds in order to provide full technical support for applicants, helping them prep projects and absorb funds.
The Operational Program for Competitiveness and Cohesion withdrew the most funds, with 62 percent, while the Operational Program for Maritime and Fisheries garnered the least.
The EU funds aim to close the gap between the EU’s poorer and member nation.
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