In presenting the government activities in regional policies, Minister Žalac cited that the plan is to bolster local and regional administration units, and pay special attention to mountain areas and islands with a new law.
On Saturday, at the 13th international science convention of Interdisciplinary Management Research in Opatija, Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac ascertained that Croatia should be divided into five statistical regions at the NUTS2 level in order to attract money from EU funds. This would be the new model, instead of the current two statistical regions, to better present specifics and development levels of its regions, Hina has reported on May 20, 2017.
Croatia is currently divided into the continental region and the Adriatic region, but the continental region includes the poorly developed Slavonian counties, as well as Zagreb, with the highest GDP per capita, as well as the well-developed Međimurje and Zagorje counties, artificially raising the development level of the poorer areas. Minister Žalac thus cited that she proposes the five Slavonian counties to become one region, as well as Zagreb, which would not need to draw money from cohesion sources, as is the rule in capital cities of EU states.
The two existing Croatian regions are in 239th and 248th place in development, out of a total of 276 EU regions. Between the continental and Adriatic regions there are no large differences in development, but the differences are significantly increased at lower levels of statistic regions – NUTS3, said Žalac. At the NUTS3 level, all Croatian regions are in the lower third of the development scale. According to data from 2013, the Croatian best is the capital city of Zagreb at 928th place, and Brod-Posavina County comes in last, at 1342nd place of all European NUTS3 regions. Differences among regions of that level in Croatia are visible in basic indicators such as GDP per capita, the share of educated citizens or the mobility of residents, but also by development indexes, which are taken as a unified indicator.
”The development index is a quality indicator, considering the fact that it combines several components and can serve as a basis for the inclusion or exemption of some areas from the list of subsidies provided by the state,” Žalac said. But, the development index in Croatia needs to be redefined and components recalculated in order to gain a more precise situation than we have now. For example, the income of local administration units has not been measured as part of the development index for years and much of it is significantly lower than before. ”The new development index will be based on demographic, fiscal and development indicators,” she stated.
In presenting the government activities in regional policies, Minister Žalac cited that they plan to bolster local and regional administration units, pay special attention to mountain areas and to islands with a new law. It should stimulate the stronger self-sustainable development of islands, strengthen small-scale coastal lines and small shipbuilding, she cited.
Furthermore, a fund for regional development will be created, to aid in the financing of the personal financial component in withdrawing European funds. The role of regional expert coordinators will be promoted, as part of the management and the control system of regional development, with an introduction of an obligatory commitment to register development projects of local administration units to the central state database, the Minister said. She noted the proposal of the Strategy of Regional Development of Croatia until 2020 has been completed and delivered for parliamentary discussion.