Agreements Signed for 29 Strategic Projects in Slavonia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 21, 2018 – A development agreement for the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem region, which provides funding for the implementation of 29 strategic projects, was signed as part of the 5th meeting of the Council for Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem in the eastern town of Vinkovci on Friday.

The agreement was signed by representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, the Ministry of Agriculture and all five Slavonian counties in the presence of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. It provides funds for the implementation of 29 strategic development projects worth 700 million kuna in total, and an additional 50 million kuna for their preparation.

The purpose of the agreement is to increase competitiveness, ensure even regional development, respond to key social challenges, reduce poverty and increase the standard of living in the five counties.

Prime Minister Plenković said that the development agreement for Slavonia was a project between the government and the five Slavonian counties and a new mechanism for channelling funds from the EU and the state budget. He added that the Slavonia project was worth 2.5 billion euro, and that contracts worth 6.8 billion kuna had been signed to date, or 36 percent of the target amount.

He announced that next week the government would put forward bills on assisted areas, islands and mountainous areas, and on housing provision in those areas, adding that consultations with the European Commission on a bill on Vukovar were nearing completion. He said that this set of bills built on what the government was already doing with respect to regional development and decentralisation.

The next Council meeting is planned for September 21 in Osijek-Baranja County, and EU Commissioner for Regional Development Corina Cretu is expected to attend, Plenković said.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac said that the development agreement was a new method to harmonise the needs of central and local government in accordance with county development strategies, with the focus on economic development and priority sectors.

Žalac said that at least 50 percent of projects have to be focused on activities with a direct effect on the economy of local government units, expressing confidence that the development agreement would boost GDP growth, employment and the regional competitiveness and development index.

She said that the 700 million kuna for the implementation of the development agreement in the five Slavonian counties would be secured from the Competitiveness and Cohesion operational programme and the state budget, and would be directed towards fully prepared projects for which building permits had already been issued.

Later on, the agreement on the Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem project was signed with the World Bank to provide advisory services. Its aim is to support the Slavonian counties in increasing efficiency in the use of EU funds in the current financial perspective and prepare EU projects for the next period. The agreement was signed by Žalac and Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia.

Žalac said that the agreement was worth 6.2 million euro, of which 85 percent would be secured from EU funds. She said that the purpose of the agreement was to establish a development diagnosis for individual areas in Slavonia which have development potential to increase efficiency in using EU structural and investment funds.

“Slavonia has real economic potential, but in recent years it has been losing some of its best and brightest residents. Our team will work closely with the ministry to make maximum use of the EU funds to support productive activities in Slavonia. This requires collaboration across several national ministries, regional counterparts, the private sector, and civil society. Around the world, we have seen that the cities and regions that succeed are those that build coalitions for growth, and use resources strategically to support the most likely opportunities,” said Capannelli.

Minister of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Nada Murganić presented demographic revitalisation and social policy measures. She said that 117 million kuna had been earmarked in the state budget to improve conditions in kindergartens and that 29 million kuna would be used for kindergartens in the Slavonian counties.

Murganić said that 60 million kuna had been secured from EU funds for the construction of kindergartens, and that tenders were under way to increase the capacity of kindergartens. She also said that more than 59 million kuna had been allocated last year and this year for support to different social groups, young people, disabled people, and for food for children at the risk of poverty in the five Slavonian counties.


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