Friday, 3 July 2020

High-Speed Internet Access for Lika as Valuable Project for Region Approved

Lika is set to get a cash injection worth almost 100 million kuna which will see it have the proper access to a high-speed Internet network, which is something Croatia's ''green heart'' has been lacking.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of July, 2020, Gospić, Otočac and the much loved and heavily frequented Plitvice Lakes have had important funds approved for them for the implementation of the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Development Project which is worth almost one hundred million kuna in total.

Gospić, as the project holder, along with the City of Otočac and the Municipality of Plitvice Lakes which is participating in the project, was approved financial resources in the maximum amount of 75 million kuna for the implementation of the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Development Project for Gospić (PRŠI), a project which is worth 98 million as a whole.

With the implementation of this extremely important project for this region of Croatia, every picturesque little village and hamlet in these areas of Lika will have the proper access to a high-speed Internet network.

This is very important news for the growing tourism sector in Lika, which has recently been being discovered by foreign tourists more and more, because the poor Internet network was what guests often complained about, and the implementation of high-speed broadband access will greatly contribute to improving the quality of Lika's economic development in general.

The project, which started back in July 2017, includes the implementation of the next generation fixed broadband access network (NGA) with a speed of 100 Mbit/s in all settlements of Gospić, Otočac and the Plitvice Lakes area where high-speed broadband access services are currently not available. More specifically, this refers to areas where operators otherwise don't plan to invest in next-generation fixed broadband access networks over the next three years.

This is one of the most financially valuable European Union-funded projects in the Gospić to take place, and Gospić is the first area in Lika-Senj County to actually start implementing the project.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Trogir Hotel Awarded 11.1 Million Kuna in EU Funds for Energy Efficiency

As Novac writes on the 17th of June, 2020, energy efficiency is high on the priority list of Hotel Medena d.d., a Trogir hotel, which has been readily confirmed by the project entitled ''Hotel Medena - New Energy'' with a total value of 34,912,938.26 kuna, which is co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund in the amount of HRK 11,170,747.45 million in grants.

This enormous sum of money was awarded to this particular Trogir hotel within a tender called ''Increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources in the service sector''.

''Constant care for the environment, increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources is one of the fundamental components of sustainable development and an important factor in the hotel industry. For this reason, we're extremely pleased to have implemented the project ''Hotel Medena - New Energy'', which will contribute to the realisation of energy savings by increasing the efficiency of energy use and will achieve significant savings in our business. All this together goes in favour of the promotion of the sustainable development of tourism in its wider environment, but also the promotion of the hotel itself,'' they said from this Trogir hotel.

The project was co-financed by the European Union (EU) under the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme, from the European Regional Development Fund, and the implementation of the project began way back in January 2014 and will last until the end of June 2021.

This project directly solves the problem of energy inefficiency by creating conditions for eliminating energy losses through the renewal of the envelope of the energy cost unit, the replacement of indoor and outdoor lighting with more energy efficient types, the installation of solar collectors and the reconstruction of the boiler room to switch to an air-to-water heat pump.

According to their calculations, this move will reduce CO2 by as much as 62 percent.

For more, follow our lifestyle page. If you're interested in both official and unofficial ways in which Croatia works to protect its environment, follow Total Eco Croatia.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Regional Centre of Competence in Hospitality and Tourism Coming to Split

As Morski writes on the 16th of June, 2020, recently in the Dalmatian city of Split, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli signed a grant agreement with the Split School of Tourism and Hospitality Management in the total amount of 74.3 million kuna. The project is 85 percent funded by the European Social Fund and 15 percent by the Croatian state budget. The allocated funds cover 100 percent of the eligible costs under the project.

''Tourism development is based on innovation, quality and hospitality. The key element is primarily people, those who create ideas. Education based on continuous improvement, the development of skills and knowledge with top experts and practical experience, is a long-term solution that ensures the future of the country's tourism. Croatian tourism is focused on being the best and this is exactly our desire through this project, to create conditions in which we'll continue to develop human resources and encourage people to be the best in the business in which they're engaged. Along with Split as one of the most promising tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, a total of six regional centres of competence in tourism and hospitality are being set up throughout Croatia, thus creating the backbone of the future strength of Croatian tourism,'' said Minister Cappelli when signing the contract.

It's worth reminding ourselves that more than 500 million kuna has been provided for the concept of regional competence centres from the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. In the tourism and hospitality sector, six regional competence centres have been appointed. They are the Zabok High School, the Split Tourism and Hospitality School, the Osijek Hospitality and Tourism School, the Opatija Hospitality School, the Pula School of Tourism, Hospitality and Trade and the Dubrovnik Tourism and Hospitality School.

The Regional Centre of Competence in Hospitality and Tourism in Split will implement a project entitled "the Establishment of a Regional Centre of Competence in the Tourism and Hospitality Sector in Split".

The main activities of the project will be focused on the implementation of education, training and education in hospitality and tourism based on work and according to the needs of employers operating within the sector. Thus, the project activities will be carried out with reputable hotel employers, the county's chamber of commerce and others. Through this project, cooperation was ensured with educational institutions, namely with three secondary vocational schools in tourism and hospitality in the county and with the University of Split.

The Regional Competence Centre in Split will develop a standard of occupation, qualifications and a vocational curriculum. In addition, relevant standards and educational programmes in adult education for qualifications will be developed: food and beverage manager, gastronomy specialist for Dalmatian delicacies, event manager, small hotel manager and hotel reception manager. Given the scope of the aforementioned qualifications, the regional centre of competence in hospitality and tourism in Split will profile itself as a centre of excellence that will generate the best and highest quality human potential primarily in the hotel segment, but also through adult education programmes focused on in gastronomy in Dalmatia. In response to the changing needs of the labour market, informal training has been additionally planned.

The development and implementation of regular secondary education programmes, adult education programmes and lifelong learning programmes, the procurement of equipment and innovative programmes for the use of new technologies in this Split facility will ensure the proper working conditions for these programmes, thus becoming a centre of excellence in vocational education and training and lifelong learning in tourism and hospitality.

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Friday, 12 June 2020

Have EU Funds and City Investments Improved Life for Dubrovnik Citizens?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 11th of June, 2020, a few years ago, Mayor Mato Frankovic took over responsibility for managing the city of Dubrovnik. During that time, numerous projects were implemented and launched, and a number of measures were implemented with the aim of ensuring the best possible quality of life for all generations of Dubrovnik citizens.

Of the capital projects, it should be noted that the construction works on a primary school were completed after 35 years, followed by the equipping of the school, and the total amount of that investment stood at a massive 75 million kuna. The drinking water purifier in Komolac has been put into operation, and this year, the student house/home (studenski dom) is set to its doors, in which the city has invested 30 million kuna.

Lazareti was renovated with the use of EU money, marking a project worth 33.8 million kuna, of which 29.5 came directly from European Union funds. Kindergartens have been built and renovated, and schools and playgrounds have been energetically renovated. A three-kilometre-long two-lane road (Klisevo-Mrcevo) was built, and the historic first phase of rehabilitation of Stradun's mixed drainage canal was carried out.

Road construction between the Dr. Franjo Tudjman bridge and Osojnik is a prerequisite for the expansion of the city and the development of a new residential zone. The waterfront in Rozat was also renovated, and after 43 years of waiting, the State Archives has been relocated into a new building, for which the city has provided the sum of 14 million kuna.

Croatia's tourist Mecca is also implementing the project "Respect the City" for better tourism management, and the Tourism Development Strategy has been adopted until the year 2025. The water supply and sewerage system has been improved, and after more than twenty years, the Grabovica landfill has been modernised.

The city contributed to the work of the Red Cross and HGSS, hospitals and ambulances with donations, and the salaries of firefighters were increased by 15 percent. A number of projects have been implemented, such as the Halo Help project and the News for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which target the elderly and infirm and other groups of Dubrovnik citizens who might require more care.

The city is also responsible for the return of traditional crafts, with strong support for women's entrepreneurship. In addition to the construction of promenades, parking, the enrichment of sports infrastructure and the reconstruction and expansion of the Lapad coastline worth as much as 70 million kuna, they can boast that the construction of the Dubac cemetery is in its first phase, and they are building a retirement home and shelter for vulnerable groups of Dubrovnik citizens.

In May this year, works on the city's water supply and drainage began, worth 44 million kuna, which will also help the nearby Elaphite island of Lopud. The world's first water polo museum is being built in Dubrovnik, as well as a tennis hall in Lapad, and on top of that, a new settlement is being built in Podbrezje, a future place for young Dubrovnik citizens to live.

In this term, the city took over the ownership of Villa Čingrija, where the regional Centre of Competence for Tourism and Hospitality will be located, for which 72.3 million kuna was provided from the European Social Fund.

Dubrovnik is the best "Smart City" in the Republic of Croatia, as evidenced by services such as car sharing systems with electric vehicles, traffic management applications, smart parking, video surveillance of traffic with 120 cameras in fifty places across the city.

A number of roads and parking lots have been arranged, which will likely be excellent news for Dubrovnik citizens who often complain about parking issues. In addition to that, 1,000 new, energy-efficient lamps have been installed. The city also procured its very first articulated buses, and eleven more are arriving, with free internet being readily provided in one hundred city buses.

For more, follow our lifestyle page.

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.

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.

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


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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