Croatia Expects to Sign Co-Financing Agreement With EC in Summer

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“These are the shortest deadlines. We are going in that direction. However, the European Commission will have the final say,” said Croatian Minister for Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak, who had participated in the 8th Cohesion Forum in Brussels on Thursday.

With its cohesion policy, the European Commission is trying to reduce inequalities between parts of the European Union, and has set aside €14.4 billion for Croatia, Tramišak told Croatian reporters.

A European Commission source has told Hina that it is more likely that Croatia’s operational programmes will be approved in September. It will be a document including Croatia’s co-financing priorities for the coming period.

All EU member states need to submit such documents to the Commission and only after these have been approved can they draw money. The Commission has so far signed such a document only with Greece, in July 2021. Croatia sent in its first draft in June 2021 and it has been sent back for improvement.

“We have submitted our operational programmes twice already. The programming cycle is such that we are in ongoing negotiations, talks and improvements. This is the case with Croatia and all other countries,” Tramišak said.

“We expect to have draft documents ready by the end of March and then try to finalise negotiations in early April. Our interest is to programme them as soon as possible and to have quality documents,” the minister said.

Tramišak met with Commissioner for Cohesion Policy Elisa Ferreira earlier this month.

Germany is expected to sign its agreement with the European Commission in April, after which agreements with Austria and Lithuania are expected to be signed.

Once Croatia wraps up its negotiations with the Commission and is given the green light, a deadline of two to three months begins before final approval of the programmes. Croatia hopes that this could happen in July, while the Commission thinks it will be in September. After that, Croatia will invite applications for projects eligible for EU co-financing.

“We are not waiting for the completion, but are already preparing other acts and strategic documents at the national, regional and local levels so that we can invite applications as soon the programmes are approved,” Tramišak said.

The Commission will contribute 85% of funding for projects and member states the remaining 15%. To qualify for co-financing, projects will have to meet one of the five goals set in EU regulations, namely “a smarter Europe”, “a greener Europe”, “a more connected Europe”, “a more social and inclusive Europe” and “a Europe closer to citizens”.

In the previous period 2014-2020, the largest project implemented in Croatia was the construction of Pelješac Bridge, worth a total of €418 million. In the present period,the bulk of funding might go towards the modernisation of railways.

Speaking at the Cohesion Forum on Thursday, Tramišak said that Croatia wanted to use the funding for the development of its poorest areas from which people are emigrating in search of work.


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