Croatia Working on 42 Strategic Projects for EU Financing

By 16 May 2018

ZAGREB, May 16, 2018 - Croatia has already started drawing up 42 major strategic development projects which it intends to finance with EU funds from the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, Croatian Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac said in Brussels on Tuesday.

Žalac presented to the European Committee of the Regions Croatia's position on the European Commission's proposal regarding the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, namely the part referring to the Cohesion Policy from which less developed regions are financed.

Žalac expressed hope that a draft National Development Strategy to 2030 would be completed as early as next year and replace a number of existing strategies. As part of that strategy, Croatia will prepare 42 strategic development projects.

"We are the only country that has already started preparations for the next financial period. Once we define our priorities, we will write them down in our operational programmes, because we do not want to be late. We are already launching preparations for the 42 strategic projects which we will, together with our counties, towns and municipalities, define as development projects," Žalac said.

On May 2, the European Commission proposed a long-term budget for the 2021-2027 period, which is nominally slightly bigger than the one for the 2014-2020 period but with less money allocated for the Cohesion Policy and agriculture.

Žalac said the Commission's proposal provided a good basis for debate, adding however that Croatia advocated keeping the existing amount of money for the Cohesion Policy and Common Agricultural Policy. Croatia also finds unacceptable the increase of the national share in the financing of the programme as well as the proposal to have the N+3 rule changed into N+2. Member states' Cohesion Policy allocations are divided into annual amounts which must be spent within two or three years, depending on the country. This rule is known as the N+2 or N+3 rule, with N being the start year when the money is allocated. Any of that annual amount which is not claimed by the Member State within that period is automatically deducted from their allocation and goes back into the overall EU budget.

Cohesion funds are extremely important for Croatia. For example, in the 2015-2017 period the share of cohesion funds in public investments in Croatia accounted for 80%, while the EU average was 8.5%.

Žalac reiterated that Croatia would strongly advocate continuation of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), better known as Interreg, which is one of the two goals of Cohesion Policy and provides a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different member states.