As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, through the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds, the EU has provided a massive 681.3 million euros to be spent on increasing the quality of life and the green transition of Croatian urban areas, and most Croatian cities have plans for projects that they will apply under this particular programme.
22 Croatian cities are entitled to access funds from the Integrated Territorial Programme (ITU mechanism), and Bjelovar is one of only three Croatian cities that already have prepared all of the necessary documentation ahead of time.
If we’re to include municipal projects, there are fourteen priority projects in Bjelovar alone, with Mayor Dario Hrebak highlighting the restoration of the old prison building in the centre, a protected cultural property whose restoration is demanding and cannot be submitted to other tenders, as well as the revitalisation and furnishing the building for the needs of the student dorms.
“Bjelovar and the neighbouring municipalities of Veliko Trojstvo, Stefanje, Rovisce and Kapela have all acquired the right to a financial envelope of 22 million euros from the ITU mechanism, with Bjelovar receiving 70 percent and the municipalities 30 percent of that amount,” says Hrebak. In addition to the revitalisation of the old prison, they also list some other projects in Bjelovar; a digital innovation centre, the Jabuceta business incubator in the municipality of Kapela, the Rovisce development centre, the proper arrangement and equipping of the social centre in Narta, pedestrian and bicycle paths with storm drainage in Gornji Plavnice, the revitalisation and equipping of the student dorms,Terme Bjelovar, and much more.
“Bjelovar currently has prepared documentation for investments worth 1.2 billion kuna in total. I expect that through the ITU mechanism, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and all other sources of funding available to us, we’ll manage to realise 80 percent of these projects over the next four years. Equally, we expect that the participation of Bjelovar in this will stand at 250 million kuna”, explained Hrebak. In order to realise the projects from the ITU mechanism, Bjelovar established the Administrative Department for the implementation of the ITU mechanism.
Rijeka also has a horse in the EU funds race. Back during the period from 2016 to 2021, during which the implementation of several projects important for the development of the City of Rijeka and the city’s agglomeration was contracted, and this included public transport.
“The preparation of projects for the period until the year 2027 is currently underway, and they’ll be presented only after the decision of the Coordination Council as the governing body of the Agglomeration, and we believe that in January 2023 we will be able to state which projects we’re talking about. There is no doubt, however, that the newly proposed projects must be shaped within the established priorities, that is, the specific goals on which the Integrated Territorial Programme for the period 2021-2027 is based, and they are; the industrial transition of Croatian regions, strengthening green, clean, smart and sustainable of city traffic and the development of urban areas through the rehabilitation and revitalisation of brownfield areas, the restoration and presentation of cultural heritage for the development of sustainable tourism, and the development of green infrastructure, etc, they explained from the City of Rijeka, headed by Mayor Marko Filipovic.
Of the other ”most ready” Croatian cities, Osijek also started preparing for the ITU financial period 2021-2027 last year with the establishment of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration. The territorial scope of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration consists of ten local self-government units: the City of Osijek and the municipalities of Antunovac, Bilje, Bizovac, Cepin, Erdut, Ernestinovo, Petrijevci, Vladislavci and Vuka.
As they revealed from Administrative Department for Finances and EU Funds of the City of Osijek, during 2021 and 2022, the establishment of the Urban Agglomeration of Osijek took place alongside the establishment of the Coordination Council. The drafting of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration Development Strategy, a strategic document that defines development goals and is a precondition for the use of funds from the ITU mechanism, has now been started. For this purpose, on November the 22nd, 2021, all local self-government units from the scope concluded an agreement on cooperation on the development and implementation of the Osijek Urban Agglomeration Development Strategy 2021-2027.
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