County prefects from Northern Croatia discussed cooperation among the five counties.
Cooperation of five counties on projects and topics of mutual concern, including broadband internet access, road construction, ecology and healthcare, were the main themes discussed at the first joint meeting of five county prefects – Damir Bajs, Radimir Čačić, Matija Posavec, Darko Koren and Željko Kolar, reports aktualno.hr on September 28, 2017.
“We ask the government to establish the Council for Central and Northwestern Croatia, similar to the Council for Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem which has already been established. This would enable our five counties to coordinate the implementation and monitoring of the use of European structural and investment funds. I think that 660,000 residents in these five counties deserve it. While Varaždin, Međimurje and Krapina-Zagorje Counties have already signed a cooperation agreement, Koprivnica-Križevci and Bjelovar-Bilogora Counties will now join them. By signing this agreement, we want to institutionalise our collaboration and propose concrete projects to the government and the EU institutions,” said Damir Bajs, the Prefect of Bjelovar-Bilogora County.
The issue of broadband internet, which is important not only for the five counties but also for the whole of Croatia, was initiated by Varaždin County. “The opinion of Varaždin County, as well as of all the five counties of central and northwestern Croatia, is that the 30 megabits per second internet access speed goal has been set too low. For this reason, we cannot achieve a major breakthrough in development and the quality of broadband infrastructure and services in the county and state. We are aware of the consequences this may have on the development of the economy, and it is especially important for keeping the population in the rural areas. This is one of the few topics which are the responsibility of county authorities, so it is our duty to provide citizens with fast internet access,” said Varaždin County Prefect Radimir Čačić.
According to the Strategy of Broadband Access Development for the period 2016 to 2020, instead of speeds of 100 megabits per second or higher, it is enough to enable access to the internet with speeds of 30 megabits per second for all households.
“The European Union is already talking about the standard internet speed of 1 gigabit per second by 2025. The limit set by the government of 30 megabits per second does not serve the interests of the inhabitants and users, nor the development goals of the counties. The infrastructure that is being built today must provide a solution for at least next 10 to 15 years because we have to look towards the future. For this reason, investing in broadband networks which do not allow speeds of at least 100 megabits per second is unjustifiable and meaningless. The government of Slovenia has already made such decision,” said Prefect Čačić.
Darko Koren, the prefect of Koprivnica-Križevci County, pointed out the issue of the Podravina Highway, which has been left out of the priorities of the Croatian Road Transportation Strategy. Međimurje County Prefect Matija Posavec discussed the cooperation in the field of healthcare and noted the proposal for hospitals in each county to develop their own centres of excellence so that citizens would not spend money on travelling to Zagreb. Krapina-Zagorje County Prefect Željko Kolar noted that the five counties expected an invitation to a meeting with the government, which should demonstrate equal interest towards inhabitants of all parts of Croatia.
The next meeting of the five prefects will be held in Varaždin where official agreement on cooperation between Varaždin, Međimurje, Krapina-Zagorje, Koprivnica-Križevci and Bjelovar-Bilogora Counties will be signed.
Translated from aktualno.hr.