Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Meet The Little Croatian Towns Setting Examples with EU Projects

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of August, 2019, EU funds are now imperative for certain segments of Croatian prosperity and primarily for regional development, and data from the Ministry of Finance shows the amount of funds withdrawn back in 2018.

According to the portal, referring to the competent ministry's unconsolidated data (there are no visible institutions and companies of cities or only cities as partners, so the amount is higher), in 2018 as many as 97 Croatian cities withdrew more than 314 million kuna, three times more than was recorded back in 2017. The amount of European Union support per capita is tenfold, with Komiža on Vis reaching as much as 2,505 kuna, in Pleternica 1,222, and in Lipik - 1,157 kuna per capita.

This is a significant shift, especially since Croatia is one of the less developed countries, and is located in one of the less developed regions of the EU. The most successful recapitalisation of all Croatian cities remains the most successful the Northern Adriatic city of Rijeka, with a share of more than ten percent. Osijek and Pleternica follow.

"We knew that we'd be able to count on EU funds, which is why we had a large number of ready, well prepared projects and used the opportunity that was given to us," said Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel, according to the aforementioned portal. Koprivnica's mayor, Mišel Jakšić, agrees entirely.

"This year was a record year for us when it comes to attracting European Union funds. Currently, the city has contracted 23 projects worth 61.7 million kuna, from the reconstruction of roads and energy renovations of schools and kindergartens to investments in the education system. We're the first Croatian city to have implemented the so-called innovative green public procurement through an EU project, "said Jakšić.

Ludbreg and Zadar proved to be the most successful Croatian cities in the five years of the first financial period - Ludbreg withdrew an average of 554 kuna per capita per year, and this year alone, they applied for projects worth 18 million kuna, with a focus on environmental protection and landfill remediation.

In Ludbreg, they have completed more than 40 projects in five years and continue at full steam. An 18 million kuna project will also get going there - the construction of an archeological park, ie, the reconstruction of ancient spas and the construction of a museum. This project, which should further enrich the tourist offer of the city of Ludbreg, should be completed in one year.

In five years, Zadar has gained more than a seven percent share. The projects in that city in coastal Dalmatia are aimed at rebuilding cultural and social centres; and with the reconstruction of two palaces, it became yet another Croatian UNESCO city, while further projects focused primarily on entrepreneurship.

Some of the most successful projects are being implemented by Šibenik, which this year started with the revitalisation of the Fortress of Sv. Ivan, worth a massive 49 million kuna, and, with the help of 41 million kuna from the Regional Development Fund, with the largest project of drainage and sewerage system design to date, which will make it a city with 99 percent of the population coverage by the water supply.

To briefly recall, in the 2014-2020 financial period from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Fund, Croatia has a total of 10.676 billion kuna available to it, of which 8.38 billion kuna is for cohesion policy objectives, 2.026 billion kuna is for agriculture and rural development, and 253 million kuna is for fisheries and their development.

According to data from the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, since June, nearly two billion euros have been entered into the Croatian state budget. More than 88 percent of the total allocated funds were announced, 68 percent were contracted, 22 percent were paid to their end users, and 18 percent were certified.

Although Croatia, as the youngest member of the EU, has encountered more than one stumbling block in the road, it seems that the country has nevertheless caught up in terms of European Union funds, seeing them as an important source of funding.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Regional Days of EU Funds Event Held in Dalmatian City of Šibenik

The already somewhat traditional "Regional Days of EU Funds" event is intended for all citizens interested in the possibilities of taking advantage of the Republic of Croatia's access to European Union funds. The most recent such event was held in the historic Dalmatian City of Šibenik.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of June, 2019, The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, in cooperation with the competent institutions operating within the management and control system of EU funds, as the holder of balanced regional development policy in the Republic of Croatia, has been organising informative and educational events entitled "Regional Days of EU Funds" throughout 2019.

Through numerous events, which will be organised in a total of thirty cities across Croatia, the wider public and all interested individuals will be able to get information on all funding possibilities from European Union funds in a more easily understandable and accessible way.

Free education aimed at all citizens interested in the possibilities of using EU funds was held on June the 10th, 2019 in the Juraj Šižgorić city library (Poljana 6).

The event was inaugurated by Željko Burić, Mayor of Šibenik, and Tajana Huzak, Assistant Minister of Regional Development and European Union Funds. At the end of the introductory speeches, a panel discussion entitled "The development of Šibenik through European Union Funds" was held, attended by Mira Lepur, the director of the J.U. development agency of Šibenik-Knin County; Radoslav Županović, the owner of OPG Županović; Petar Mišura, the head of the Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Development of the City of Šibenik; Martin Mrša, the president of the "Youth in the EU" association, and Ivan Malenica, Dean of the Polytechnic in Šibenik.

After the initial panel discussion, expert presentations entitled "EU funds as a possibility of financing" followed. Then, an integrated territorial investment program was presented by Irena Jurčić of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds. Rade Dubreta from HAMAG-BICRO spoke about the most common errors when submitting a project application, as well as the key points in project implementation, then Ivan Križanović and Domagoj Puljić from HAMAG-BICRO presented financial instruments for agriculture and rural development.

At the end of the training day, Boris Pekić from UHY Consultation held a workshop on "presenting rural development measures and application processes" with the aim of presenting the current funding opportunities within rural development measures, and introduce visitors to the application process via the AGRONET application. In conclusion, all participants at this Šibenik event had the opportunity to ask whatever questions they may have had about access to, and the use of EU funds.

Through interactive workshops, panel discussions and educational content, participants in the event also have the opportunity to exchange their own respective experiences and connect with lecturers and other participants, with the aim of enhancing collaboration at all levels and realising as many projects as possible with the help of EU funding.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

EU Funds for Construction and Renovation of 500 Kindergartens in Croatia

As Novac/ writes on the 4th of June, 2019, more than 500 kindergartens are currently being built or renovated in Croatia thanks to the country's access to EU funds.

The move is also because of the growing awareness of negative demographic trends in recent years, and cities are also increasing their budget allocations for kindergartens as well as for the eventual implementation of measures that will work to raise the overall standards of pre-school education - from kindergarten construction, the co-financing of residence, the prolonged stay of children in kindergarten, the introduction of new activities, and the procurement of equipment needed for work.

Novac analysed the data from Croatia's Ministry of Finance on budget execution in 2017 and explored which cities had ''put aside'' the highest amount of money for pre-school education. What can be seen first is that the top 10 cities with the greatest distinction, whether viewed per capita or per share in the budget, are almost exclusively small and medium-sized cities, and the only bigger city among them is Velika Gorica near Zagreb.

When viewed from the perspective of budgets, Požega in continental Croatia led with 17.6 percent of its budget allocated for kindergartens, and the funds are mainly used to cover the costs of children staying in kindergartens. At the same time, with 600 kuna per child per month, the city co-finances a child's stay in a private kindergarten.

After Požega, according to the budget allocation for kindergartens, come Klanjec, Vodnjan, Dugo Selo, Bjelovar, and Oroslavje.

According to the date for 2017, the City of Bjelovar, with its allocated amount of 9.2 million kuna, is the fifth city in Croatia in terms of budget allocation for kindergartens and it will be very interesting to see where it will be positioned in any analysis taken in the coming years, since in 2018 alone, it invested 23.5 million kuna in pre-school education, and they set aside 30.2 million kuna in the budget for it. One of the important measures is to lower the prices of kindergartens, which has already decreased twice in one year, first from 750 kuna to 600 kuna, and then down to 500 kuna.

''Investing in pre-school education is certainly one of the priorities of the City of Bjelovar, which is evident from the city budget. By investing in children, we're investing in our future, and by raising standards in kindergartens, we're helping children to have a better childhood, as well as for their parents, to make it easier to finance everything needed,'' said Bjelovar's mayor Dario Hrebak, adding that investing in pre-school education is one of the best demographic moves, the energetic restoration of kindergartens also strengthens Croatia's economy, and today in Bjelovar, there is no construction company without work.

In Oroslavje, the sixth town in Croatia in terms of the amount of the budget allocation for kindergartens, there are two kindergartens attended by about 150 children. This year, prices for kindergartens were reduced, parents pay 640 kuna for the first child, 360 kuna for the second, and for the third one, it's free. They are cheapest in all of Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Among the top 10 of the cities and towns in Croatia which allocate the most for kindergartens are Skradin, Đurđevac, Ludbreg and Novi Marof. Looking at things in terms of per capita, the champion in allocating money to kindergartens is Vodnjan with 658 kuna per capita, and in the top 10 come Požega, Vis, Đurđevac, Velika Gorica, Umag, Poreč, Klanjec, Bjelovar and Sveta Nedelja.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more on life in Croatia.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Ministry of Economy Awards Croatian Entrepreneurs With Contracts

As Lea Balenovic/Novac writes on the 3rd of June, 2019, the Croatian Ministry of Economy recently awarded Croatian entrepreneurs twenty contracts totalling an enormous 85 million kuna. To be more specific, these are contracts funded by non-refundable EU funds for which the tenders were announced at the end of last year.

The aim of these tenders, as Minister of Economy Darko Horvat explained, is to "increase production and exports and create jobs, as well as to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises through the presentation of their products and services on the international market".

One of the companies that which will use these opportunities for job creation and business optimisation is certainly the Croatian company IT-Graf, which deals with printing, and which has plans to invest almost 15 million kuna. Non-refundable EU funds in the amount of 6.6 million kuna were awarded to that particular Zagreb-based company.

"We'll all invest in new machines and modernisation, ie, the automation of printers, with the goal of going to foreign markets and exporting, and our sophisticated products will mean we need high quality staff and we will open about twenty new work positions,'' stated Tomislav Ivičinec, Managing Director at IT-Graf, who doesn't have any issues with the lack of a workforce in Croatia or finding workers because, as he himself said, "you just need to pay the man and then there's no problem".

In addition to this Croatian company, Hangar 18 has also received funds to increase its overall international competitiveness, which is due to its permanent investments remains "a permanent guest of such events", according to Damir Kralj, the director of the company.

''We're dealing with information technology and mobile technology, ie, we produce smartphones, TVs and all of their accessories, and we'll use this 950,000 kuna to present our products at the Barcelona fair,'' said Kralj, adding that Hangar 18 is planning to build a new factory in Koprivnica in which an additional fifteen to twenty people will be employed.

With the help of these tools, Neon Bjorn, a Zagreb-based company offering a software solution for travel agencies, as well as for travelers who prefer to organise their own travel plans, has the opportunity to internationalise their business and product presentation. As explained by the director of this Croatian company, Vesna Kota, "it helps in the overall process and shortens the time involved in travel organisation".

''With the allocated 433,000 kuna, we'll place our product on foreign markets and sell it in far-off locations. We're expanding to Cape Town, Dubai and Beijing and in European destinations such as Barcelona and London, and the solution is available to tourists who wish to visit destinations both in Croatia and those outside of it,'' Kota explained, adding that their desire "to bring more tourists to Croatia''.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for much more on Croatian companies, Croatian products and services and the measures put in place to aid Croatian entrepreneurs.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Mošćenička Draga Partaking in EU Funded KAŠTELIR Project

EU fund absorption in Croatia hasn't been great, but as things are gradually beginning to improve, the projects these non-refundable funds are pumped into are improving too. Mošćenička Draga Municipality is partaking in a particularly meaningful one.

As Morski writes on the 1st of June, 2019, prehistoric fortresses and ethnobotany for sustainable tourism and rural development - from Kras (via Brkini, Ćićarija and Istria) to Kvarner are part of the KAŠTELIR project funded by the European Rural Development Fund.

The main objective of the project is to actively preserve local heritage from Kras to Kvarner through the development of sustainable cross-border tourism. The project contributes heavily to the evaluation and protection of the townships and their promotion through the use of non-invasive approaches (ICT-based) and the presentation of their former traditional ways of life by using wild herbs (etnobotanics) and breeding old plant varieties in order to keep them alive, growing, and relevant to the aforementioned areas and their combined and respective histories.

The total cost of this project amounts to an enormous 1,416,321.03  euros, of which 85 percent is financed by European Union (EU) funds. The share from the Mošćenička Draga Municipality in the total project budget stands at 146.626,15 euros.

The numerous significant project activities that will take place within the area of ​​the Mošćenička Draga Municipality include the creation of an information-interpretation botanical park in the very centre of Mošćenička Draga, the organisation of a prehistoric ethnobotanical festival and the arrangement of an instructive, ethnobotanical path which leads from Brseč to Ozid.

The planned duration of the project is until March the 31st, 2021 (thirty months in total), and the Mošćenička Draga Municipality is beginning its role in the the project seven months after its official beginning on the occasion of Mali Lošinj having exited from partaking in the project, as was reported directly from the Mošćenička Draga Municipality.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

EU Funds Turning Old Croatian Castles into Hotels and Museums

EU funds have opened up a wide variety of doors for Croatia, quite literally. As more and more EU funding is accessed, more former Croatian ''glory'' buildings, including old castles and palaces, are having new life breathed into them.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 28th of May, 2019, in July in Suhopolje near Virovitica, a visitor's centre will be opened up at Janković castle, marking the creation of a brand new attraction for Virovitica-Podravina County, in which a total of 39.7 million kuna will be invested, of which 33.4 million kuna is being funded from European Union fund for Regional Development, permitted under the Preparation and implementation of Integrated Development Programs based on the Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage.

This is just one of the projects which directly involves the revitalisation of a series of castles, noble and ex-military buildings in the aforementioned county, and putting them into the function of tourism within the so-called. Plemićka ruta. At the moment, there are projects in their various phases of implementation or completion of a total value of up to 276 million kuna, as was revealed yesterday at the project's presentation in Zagreb by Josip Mikolčić, assistant director of the VPŽ (Virovitica-Podravina) Tourist Board. Last year, 16,033 tourists visited this continental Croatian county, achieving an impressive 40,276 overnight stays.

"Participating in EU projects is a great opportunity to rebuild many of the neglected facilities that we'll then put into the function of tourism. The county still has a bit of hotel accommodation, which we need to modify so that we can make a significant income from tourism," Mikolčić explained.

Namely, as EU funds can't provide non-refundable money for the construction of hotels, a solution has been found by the Croatian county in question to create presentation centre projects that later be turned into hotels. In addition to the multimedia exhibition hall, 5D cinema and creative lab, Janković will also have fifteen guest rooms, which will initially be registered as rooms for rent, and after five years have passed, another fifteen rooms will be added and the facility will be registered as a heritage hotel, at least that's what the current plan is.

Then, Virovitica-Podravina County will be able to sell that hotel to a private investor, as well as all of its other facilities.

As it is already known, an informative-educational centre and a hostel in a restored summer residence from the nineteenth century have been on the market for about two years now. The Heritage Hotel Kurija Janković is on the Plemićka ruta, and the opening of a museum in the renovated Pejačević Castle is expected this October.

The renovated Ružica grad from the fifteenth century will be receive its first guests within the next 1.5 years, while on the island of Križnica on the border with Hungary, former military facilities will be turned into a camp and a visitor's centre.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.


Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Šibenik Continues to Impress with EU Fund Withdrawal for Cultural Heritage

Šibenik is an example of excellent practice when it comes to withdrawing the European Union funds made available to it, and while the rest of Croatia rather unsurprisingly lags in that particular field (among others), it seems that this Dalmatian city is quite easily outshining the rest.

As Novac/Matea Grbac writes on the 21st of May, 2019, although tourism is one of the major economic branches of Croatia, accounting for a significant nineteen percent of the national GDP, it seems that the country's leading individuals in Croatian tourism will have to work a little harder to make sure Croatia's numerous destinations, which were visited by just over 19.4 million tourists last year, manage to really remain competitive in the face of competition.

In order to successfully keep up with increasingly popular European destinations like Greece, an old ''king'' of tourism, and not to mention Turkey, which is returning from a rather tumultuous period, much more than sea and sunshine needs to be placed on offer to would-be tourists and visitors to Croatia. Packed with a wealth of possibilities, is the country really using everything as it could, and should?

For the development of a much more varies tourist offer, Croatia has had a number of different forms of EU funds available to it for almost six years now, more specifically since the country joined the bloc. They're mostly related to the development of rural, regional tourism and OPGs, the reconstruction or building of more private accommodation, the development of domestic entrepreneurship, health, ethno and gastro tourism, as well as what is arguably the most important thing of all - the proper restoration of Croatia's countless pieces of cultural heritage.

Despite having EU funds readily available to it for a variety of purposes, according to increasingly numerous sources in the media, Croatia continues to be rather insufficient in taking proper advantage of that support. However, it seems that we can still find examples of good practice among the tourist destinations of the country and one of them is the historic Dalmatian City of Šibenik.

This beautiful coastal Dalmatian city, one of the few world cities to have been listed on UNESCO's prestigious list with two protected facilities, is an example of just how things should be being done when it comes to EU fund withdrawal in Croatia.

Although Šibenik has been being visited more and more in recent years, it still isn't one of the most visited Croatian destinations, and by the end of October last year, it counted only 287,872 visitors, Šibenik is certainly a pioneer in withdrawing funds made available to it by the EU when it comes to restoring its cultural heritage.

For the reconstruction of its famed fortification system consisting of three land and one sea fortress, Šibenik has withdrawn approximately 56 million kuna from EU funds over the last several years.

Financed by the European Regional Development Fund, totalling more than 1.6 million euro, of which the EU co-financed almost a million euro, the Fortress of St. Mihovil became an imposing open-air amphitheatrical stage with 1,077 seats. Thus, this ancient historical fortress which once used to serve as the defensive wall of the city, plays its current role for Šibenik of an urban and dynamic gathering place for both the local population as well as visitors to this stunning city.

The second in the series comes Šubićevac Fortress, or Barone, which has been transformed into the gastronomic centre of Šibenik. The reconstruction of this facility stood at slightly more than 1.3 million euro, and just like the fortress of St. Mihovil, it received most of these funds from EU funds, more specifically, 993,000 euro.

Although still unfinished, the farthest fortress from the city, Sv. Ivan, is also part of the ''Fortess of Culture of Šibenik'' and is financed with European Union money. The entire project was worth 49 million kuna, and as much as 41 million kuna came from the Regional Development Fund.

The fact that the entire project proved to be successful is the fact that more than 200,000 tourists visited last year alone, while revenues in 2018 amounting to a more than impressive 6.7 million kuna.

With the synergy of natural resources, culture and domestic products, Šibenik has proved that with planning and smart investment, every Croatian tourist destination can turn into a rounded whole that will meet the needs of even the most demanding tourists.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.


Click here for the original article by Matea Grbac for Novac/Jutarnji

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

How are Croatian Towns, Cities and Counties Doing with EU Fund Withdrawal?

Just how do various Croatian towns, cities and counties compare in terms of EU fund withdrawal? Some unlikely names have appeared on top...

As Novac/ writes on the 14th of May, 2019, through the Rural development program, the Republic of Croatia will have over 2.3 billion euro (over 17 billion kuna) from EU funds provided to it to boost competitiveness of agriculture, forestry and processing industries from 2014 to 2020.

The aforementioned EU funds will also be used to improve general living and working conditions, ie, the construction of necessary infrastructure such as kindergartens, fire stations and social housing in rural areas.

As of the end of January this year, at least according to official data, of this more than 17 billion kuna, 10.37 billion kuna was contracted for projects, and a little more than half of that contracted amount was paid out.

Croatian cities, according to that same data (APPRRR), have withdrawn more than 438 million out of a total of 5.66 billion kuna in the past five years. As many as fifteen Croatian towns that are on top of the list in terms of the withdrawal of EU funds from the rural development program are smaller towns, when taking the per capita amount into consideration. That list of Croatian towns which withdrew the most money per capita was led by Nin with 4915 kuna per capita. In total, this ancient town close to the popular destination of Zadar has withdrawn 13.4 million kuna. The town of Nin readily awaited the Rural development programs from 2014 to 2020, Mayor Emil Ćurko stated.

''Investments in project documentation were prepared, public-legal conditions were prepared, investment took place in human resources, all for the purpose of the withdrawal of EU funds. The projects are large, infrastructural, necessary, and we've prepared them so that the maximum amount of European Union funds are used. From each measure, we tried to extract the most funds allowed by the tender condition. We've shaped a project team working on the preparation and implementation of EU projects and we believe that we'll continue to do even better,'' said Ćurko.

Among several other things, Nin received approval for the construction of a kindergarten worth 9.2 million kuna, out of which 6.6 million kuna is being provided by the EU, and 2.6 million kuna is from Nin.

Following Nin are Hrvatska Kostajnica (2745 kuna), Klanjec (2717 kuna), Opuzen (2377 kuna), and Mursko Središće (2276 kuna), followed by Skradin, Grubišno Polje, and Ozalj.

Orahovica has withdrawl 7.4 million kuna until now, and in December, the town was approved once again for almost nine million kuna for the reconstruction and extension of a kindergarten.

''There are still a lot of projects in the plan of the authorities when it comes to other EU funds. They have been prepared in the past year and a little over six months, and the more funds we withdraw from the EU and state funds, the more there is in the budget, which will raise the standard of Orahovica's citizens through various programs,'' said Mayor Ana-Marija Petin.

Mursko Središće, in turn, led the list of total funds received from the Regional development program by the end of January, with 14.3 million kuna of withdrawn funds. This small town in the northernmost part of Croatia received 6.8 million kuna for road construction to help develop the economic zone and 7.4 million kuna for the construction and equipping of kindergartens.

Following in terms of the total amount of funds is Koprivnica, with 13.9 million kuna of withdrawn funds, followed by Slatina with an amount of total withdrawn funds standing at 13.8 million kuna, with Nin coming fourth place with the same amount, and with Karlovac coming fifth on the list, having attracted less than 12 million kuna. Karlovac used those EU funds for the construction of kindergartens, totalling 4.4 million kuna.

On the list of Croatian cities and towns that have withdrawn the most funds, there is another medium-sized town - Bjelovar, which has withdrawn 11.5 million kuna.

In terms of Croatian counties, the Eastern Croatian county of Osijek-Baranja has contracted the most EU funds, or more precisely 1.3 billion kuna for numerous projects. Following are Sisak-Moslavina, Virovitica-Podravina and Pozega-Slavonia, all of which are continental counties.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

High Economic Expectations for Croatia's Brod Port Project

Despite the odd investment here and there, continental Croatia rarely gets a look in when compared to the coast, particularly when compared to Dalmatia. In Eastern Croatia, more specifically Slavonia, the situation is even more depressing, but it seems that not everything is as bleak as we sometimes like to imagine and even portray.

As Suzana Varosanec/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of April, 2019, the economic expectations from the Luka Brod (Brod Port) project worth more than 100 million kuna are high. Through the construction of new port infrastructure, the project has become the driving force for the development of Brod-Posavina County, as was highlighted by the Croatian Government.

As stated, the much anticipated construction of new port infrastructure is the driving force for the development of this Slavonian county, this was highlighted at the eighth session of the Council for Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem, and according to the prime minister, it's essential for the Croatian Government and local self-government units to do everything to create the proper conditions for economic development that will end the mass exodus of citizens from Croatia.

Until now, contracted projects with EU funding amount to 9.7 billion kuna, stated the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds, Gabrijela Žalac. Another 1.85 billion kuna are contracted investments from the state budget.

For the strengthening of the Croatian economy, the development and enhancement of competitiveness, projects such as Brod Port are of great importance, stated the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's Mirjana Cagalj. This is also an incentive for the development of a local environment that is particularly burdened with the exodus of the resident population who are leaving in their droves owing to the unfavourable economic situation, contributing to Croatia's worrying demographic crisis.

Its exceptional traffic position provides great potential for the development of the new port in Slavonski Brod in an intermodal logistics centre, which, according to Cagalj, would work to influence its future strategic role in international container traffic because Brod Port is located on the border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the crossing of the railway corridor X and the road corridor Vc, which is an international entry port for the EU.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for much more.


Click here for the original article by Suzana Varosanec for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Rijeka-Karlovac Railway Line Heading for Chinese or EU Hands?

As the Chinese show greater interest in various Croatian strategic projects, the EU and the EC become more and more uneasy at the thought of such a heavy Chinese business presence in Croatia. As the EC changes its attitude towards some Croatian projects to which it reacted negatively in the past, has the Chinese influence rendered this change of heart senseless?

As Novac/Kresimir Zabec writes on the 13th of April, 2019, Croatia wants to finance the construction of the railway line from Karlovac to Rijeka, covering a length of 170 kilometres with EU funds, because that's more favourable to Croatia than doing it through a concession, stated Croatian Minister of Transport Oleg Butković at the construction site of Pelješac bridge recently.

Ironically much like Chinese whispers, it began to circulate in the media that everything had already been agreed with the Chinese, and that China's CRBC which is already building Pelješac bridge would construct the railway line via a concession model. Economy Minister Darko Horvat has thus announced giving the Chinese company a fifty year concession. However, Butković has very clearly stated that there has been absolutely no direct agreement with the Chinese and that everything will go through a tender, as usual.

''If we decide on a concession tender, then Chinese companies can also apply. If the line is built using EU funds, Chinese companies will be able to bid to be the contractors for the project,'' said Butković.

EU funding for the project is much more favourable for Croatia because it doesn't affect the growth of public debt. Should the case result in giving a concession to a Chinese company, they would build and finance it, but with government guarantees amounting to 1.7 billion euros, which is something the state can ill afford. According to current projections, the entire line should be completed by 2030.

Of the 270 kilometre of railway line from Botovo on the Croatian-Hungarian border, to Rijeka on the shores of the Northern Adriatic, the section from Karlovac to Rijeka is currently not covered at all by any form of EU co-financing.

A few years ago, the European Commission told the Croatian Government quite clearly that they would not finance that part of the line from Karlovac to Rijeka because it was too expensive and it just doesn't pay off. After that, the Croatian Government turned to the Chinese who were constantly showing interest in constructing that section. Now that the negotiations between China and Croatia have entered a much deeper and more serious phase, signals from Brussels, more specifically the European Commission, have been arriving which indicate that they are, despite all, still interested in the project.

Although that railway line is not officially part of the trans-European transport network, senior officials of the European Commission's Directorate General for Transport have openly told reporters that the Commission is ready to co-finance this project, and that it is a very important part of the European budget planning in the period commencing in 2021. Quite a turnaround, no?

In addition, this railway line is part of the line from Rijeka to the Hungarian border, which the European Commission has invested around 400 million euros into the modernisation and construction of, and that obviously doesn't quite sit well with the idea of the entrance of the Chinese into this project. According to statements, the ultimate goal of the overall project is to build a new bridge to the island of Krk and to build a new port on the island for container transport, which is an idea that the Chinese are also very interested in.

What stage are the works in?

Rijeka - Zagreb

The railway line from Rijeka tp Zagreb to the Hungarian border is part of the international Mediterranean Corridor connecting southern Europe with Central and Eastern Europe. The modernisation of this line would be of great importance to the Port of Rijeka. The modernisation and the construction of these lines are all in different stages of execution.

Botovo - Koprivnica - Križevci

In 2016, the European Commission approved 240 million euro for Croatia to build this section, but the contractor for the job hasn't yet been selected. A tender is in progress, but it has been stopped once again due to an appeal lodged by an Italian company.

Križevci - Dugo Selo

This is the only section of the track where works are ongoing. The European Union has invested about 180 million euros in this project, but works began a year and a half late because of contractor issues.

Hrvatski Leskovac - Karlovac

The design of this part of the line was co-financed by the EU in the amount of about 6 million euros. It is expected that tenders will be announced to modernise the existing works and build another track. The value of the works is estimated at 315 million euros and is planned to be funded through EU funds.

Karlovac - Oštarije

An entirely new two-track railway would be constructed on this part of the track, and the value of the works would be estimated at about 400 million euros. Project documentation has been produced, which has been paid for by the EU in the amount of 9 million euros.

Oštarije - Škrljevo

This, which is considered to be the most challenging part of the line, hasn't yet been fully defined, and technical documentation is being prepared by the EU, for which it has paid nearly 6 million euros. The value of the works on this section is estimated at as much as one billion euros.

Škrljevo - Rijeka - Jurdani

Project documentation was produced by the EU at a cost of 8.5 million euros. The value of the works is estimated at 270 million euros in total.

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Click here for the original article by Kresimir Zabec for Novac/Jutarnji

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