States with more experience in withdrawing EU funds used up to 94 percent of funds available.
As the youngest member of the European Union, Croatia has used 81 percent of money available from European Union funds in the period from 2007 to 2013, reports Večernji List on February 2, 2017.
Zvonimir Savić, an analyst at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, wrote in his latest analysis that it was the lowest rate of utilization of European funds which were approved in the previous budget period.
By comparison, other European Union member states used 94 percent of approved funds, and that includes the ten new member states which joined the EU in 2004. Still, if the estimate of 81 percent of utilization turns out to be true (the final figure is still not known since 2016 was the last year in which a state could withdraw funds from that budgetary period, but overall figures for 2016 have not yet been published), that would be a much better result for Croatia than estimates which were given in previous years.
To find out whether Croatia is really worse than other EU countries, it would be necessary to compare it to results of other countries right after they entered the EU. For example, the European Commission announced in 2004 that the then ten new EU member states used between 44 to 61 percent of approved funds in the period from 1990 to 2003. Savić adds that, according to an assessment by the European Commission, better withdrawal of money from EU funds could increase economic growth rate by up to three percentage points.
“In order to improve the efficiency of the withdrawal of money from EU funds, and in order not to remain in the lower part of the EU28 and EU10 rankings, it is necessary to accelerate the process of drafting and publication of public competitions, but also to make the system of management and control of EU funds more efficient”, said Savić.
In the current budgetary period, which covers the period from 2014 to 2020, Croatia has at its disposal 12.7 billion euros of European money. By December last year, Croatia contracted nine percent of these funds – 1.1 billion euros, but only 45 million euros were paid out. According to the share of contracted funds, only Romania has a worse result than Croatia, while according to the amount paid out, Croatia is better only then Romania and Slovenia, which has not yet received a single euro.