Croatia’s EU Funds Usage Improves

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, January 14, 2019 – Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac said on Monday that 2.9 billion euro was made available in 2018 through 152 tenders for the allocation of European Union funds, whereby 79% of the total 10.7 billion euro has been made available.

Speaking at a press conference, Žalac said the total amount of the tenders advertised had risen to 8.5 billion kuna. She added that in the 2014-18 period tenders were advertised for 5.6 billion euro, 52% of the available allocation.

Žalac said project contracting had risen in this government’s term, from 975 million euro at the end of 2016, the beginning of the term, to 6.6 billion euro. She added that 62% of the EU funds allocated had been contracted, a surge of 572%.

At the end of 2018, 1.98 billion euro in EU funds had been disbursed, of which 1.05 billion last year alone. At the end of October 2016, 291 million euro had been paid out, accounting for a surge of 578% until the end of last year.

Žalac said a statement of expenditure worth 1.03 billion euro was forwarded on the last day of 2018 and that 1.83 billion euro had been verified to date. In line with that statement, Žalac expects the European Commission to appropriate the approved funds to the Croatian budget by the end of this month.

As for the N+3 rule, under which a member state has an additional three years to absorb funds after the year in a project was approved, Žalac said all the funds allocated to Croatia for 2015 had been submitted to the European Commission.

She said the contracting rate had increased more than five times and that the goal was to reach at least 85% of the 10.7 billion euro by the end of this year.

Žalac underlined the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem Project, as part of which grants worth 8.7 billion kuna were contracted last year, 47% of the total 18.75 billion kuna.

She announced changes to statistical regions, saying the aim was to redress the injustice made in 2012 when the City of Zagreb was added to the Continental Croatia region, whereby GDP in undeveloped areas jumped from 39% to 64% overnight.

The minister said the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme would be amended this year, with a view to transferring funds to finished projects. She said “major underperformance” was recorded in the programme’s information and communication technologies and environment and resource efficiency thematic priorities, and that “we are surprisingly poor” in climate change and risk prevention.

Žalac said those funds did not go to waste but would be redirected to the economy and enterprises, adding that Croatia was most successful in the SMEs competitiveness priority.

Asked which beneficiaries had the biggest contracting problems, she said big infrastructure projects in water agglomeration. She added that poor project documentation also affected implementation.

The minister said the EU’s draft multiannual framework for 2012-27 envisaged 9.9 billion euro for Croatia, 5.6% less than the current framework for the cohesion policy and 6% less for the common agricultural policy. She said the draft also envisaged increasing national co-financing from 15 to 30% as well as doubling the current pre-financing. She said was this was unacceptable for Croatia and that negotiations at EU level were yet to begin.

More news on the EU funds and Croatia can be found in the Business section.


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