More EU Funds for Poorer Regions

By 7 March 2019

ZAGREB, March 7, 2019 - The next seven-year financial period in the European Union will be a continuation of greater co-financing for poorer regions whose GDP accounts for less than 75% of the EU average, and that includes Croatia, Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca, Director DG Regional and Urban Policy, said at a two-day international conference on EU funds which started in the northern Croatian town of Trakošćan on Wednesday.

The conference, focusing on the new financial period 2021-2027 and the experience of strategic development and implementation of EU projects of other EU member states, was organised by the PJR consulting company and drew more than 250 participants.

Alliata di Villafranca, who is one of the authors of new rules for the 2021-2027 financial period, held an introductory lecture on preparing for the cohesion policy in the new period.

She underscored that the cohesion policy had created more than 1.6 million jobs in the current financial period and that some of the challenges in the coming period included Brexit, security, controlling borders and climate change.

She announced that co-financing would continue for poorer regions that have a GDP that is less than 75% of the EU average, which also includes Croatia.

The European Union and European Commission wish to simplify the system so that states can work faster, however, the administration and legal framework of a member state often pose a problem. Croatia has to work to simplify the business environment which is good at the regional level, however, it is rather slow at the national level, she said.

Assistant Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Ana Odak spoke about the National Development Strategy for the period until 2030, underscoring that the main objective was to make order in the system of strategic planning.

The ministry's state-secretary, Spomenka Đurić, presented data on the absorption of EU funds stating that Croatia had signed contracts for 65% of the total allocation yet only 15% had been granted.

"The ministry is aware of the huge discrepancy however this and next year, it plans to make a large number of payments to beneficiaries. In the first two months of 2019, intensive payments have begun. In the past two years we focused mostly on contracting and now the implementation of most of the projects is starting," Djuric said.

The conference also heard about the experiences of Romania and Latvia regarding EU fund investments and the implementation of strategic projects.

More EU funds news can be found in the Business section.