ZAGREB, March 5, 2019 – European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said in Dubrovnik on Tuesday that there is no danger for future EU projects in Croatia that would be financed from the Cohesion Fund following a reduction of budget funds, and Croatia’s minister responsible for European funds, Grabrijela Žalac, said that Croatia had some objections to the European Commission’s proposed budget for the period 2021-2027.
A ministerial conference of the group of “Friends of Cohesion – Cohesion Policy and Structural Reforms Post 2020”, organised by the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds, was held in Dubrovnik on Tuesday, with Žalac and Cretu attending.
Cretu said that the EC has proposed a reduction of 10% in funds for cohesion policy and that a total of 373 billion euro has been secured, which is more than ever.
There is no danger for future projects in Croatia due to the reduced funds. We will begin negotiations in March with all member states on their operational programmes. The Croatian government and regions have to prepare a strategy based on the funding they have available and the rate of co-financing, Cretu said.
Žalac said that Croatia, as the newest EU member state, is a recipient of European funds and that it has some objections to the European Commission’s proposed multi-annual budget 2021-2027, which will increase the rate of co-financing from 15% to 30% while reducing the rate of pre-financing, and the deadline to implement projects will be reduced from three to two years.
“We want to discuss that in detail with EC representatives, particularly with the Directorate-General for Budget. Everyone should not be treated equally considering that Croatia only started to use the benefits of the cohesion policy two years ago and only now are the effects of that visible in the field. By the end of the year we need to adopt all the necessary regulations for the new financial perspective, and our EU presidency will be marked by the adoption of the European budget, Žalac said.
Last May the EC presented its proposal for the multi-annual budget for the period 2021-2027, which is larger than the present budget but foresees lower amounts for cohesion policy and agriculture. According to the proposal, Croatia would receive about 6% less than in the current multi-annual budget.
The purpose of the Dubrovnik conference, which brought together ministers and state-secretaries for regional development and EU funds of EU member states, was to exchange opinions on connections between cohesion policies and structural reforms in the period after 2020 and to find answers to key issues related to cohesion policy and the proposed multi-annual financial framework for the period following 2020.
The “Friends of Cohesion” group consists of 16 EU member states opposed to cut backs in cohesion funding in the new EU multi-annual budget, which is supposed to reduce the gap between wealthier and poorer EU countries. The group is made up of Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Greece.
Cretu said that the conference discussed the future of the cohesion policy, what is important for Croatia, which has EUR 9.9 billion at its disposal for the 2021-2027 period, but also for Europe overall.
I recalled three key points in the EC’s proposal through a simple and pragmatic approach. Above all, a more modern policy that focuses on the transition toward a ‘smart economy’ and a low-carbon economy and so the cohesion policy has to pass through all European regions preparing for that transition. We need an effective policy that requires public policy that will stimulate investment and innovation and an efficient administration, Cretu said.
She added that the cohesion policy should be simplified particularly with regard to the implementation of projects, and in that regard the European Commission proposes 80 various measures.
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