Monday, 23 May 2022

Rail Maintenance Workers Protest, Government Promises EU Projects for their Company

ZAGREB, 23 May 2022 - Over 500 disgruntled workers of the Pružne građevine Ltd., which specializes in the construction and maintenance of railway and electrical infrastructure along railway routes in Croatia, protested outside Government House on Monday to warn about the serious situation in this company with 1,400 employees.

This is the only Croatian company specializing in the construction and maintenance of railways.

The protesting workers warned that the absence of large-scale investments in rail maintenance has plunged this company into trouble and it is faced with prospective official receivership and a loss of jobs.

According to an estimate provided by the World Bank, it is necessary to invest a billion kuna annually in the maintenance of Croatia's railway network while currently, the annual allocation for this purpose is HRK 200 million, the protesters said.

They voiced their disagreement with the transfer of Pružne građevine Ltd from HŽ Infrastruktura (Croatian Railways Infrastructure) ownership to the Centre for Restructuring and Sales (CERP).

After the protest rally, Transport Ministry State Secretary Alen Gospočić explained that the decision on the transfer is aimed at making it possible for the Pružne građevine to apply for EU-funded tenders.

Gospočić said that the investment cycle in the next 10 years was put at €3.5 billion.

He recalled the deals on projects worth HRK 600 million in the next three years that involve the company.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Osijek-Baranja County Leads in Using European Funds

April 14, 2022 - MEP Karlo Ressler has visited the city of Osijek, where he was presented with several Osijek-Baranja County projects currently in progress that were financed by European funds.

As writes, after a reception in the Osijek-Baranja County, MEP Ressler was accompanied by the prefect Ivan Anušić to visit the construction site of the Economic Centre, which is also financed by European funds

"Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County do not need additional instructions on how to withdraw money from European funds because they do an excellent job", said MEP Karlo Ressler during his stay in Osijek, adding: "It seems to me that the idea, the perception of a difficult situation as it used to be is no longer associated with the Osijek-Baranja County nor the city of Osijek, and I also think that the new mayor Radić certainly played a big role not only in that but everything that the county has been doing in recent years".

In the company of Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić, MP Ressler visited the construction site of the Osijek Fortress, which is another project financed with European money.

"The city of Osijek is a large construction site, which I explained to MEP Ressler. At the moment, the value of investments in the area of the city of Osijek exceeds one billion kuna, and is largely financed with European money”, said Osijek Mayor Radić and thanked MEP Ressler for showing interest in the city of Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County.

After the reception in the Osijek-Baranja County, accompanied by the prefect Ivan Anušić, MP Ressler visited the construction site of the Economic Centre, which is also financed by European funds.

"We are implementing numerous projects through the funds of the European Union, through a new financial perspective where our office in Brussels, which has a permanent representative of our 5 Slavonian counties, communicates directly with our MEPs, including Mr. Ressler", said the prefect of the Osijek-Baranja County Ivan Anušić. He concluded that the Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek really have something to boast about.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

EU Project Helps Procure Equipment for Dubrovnik County Firefighters

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Dubrovnik-Neretva County has procured equipment for its firefighting units as part of an EU project for the strategic development of flood management. 

The equipment, worth around HRK 600,000, is intended to remove damage caused by floods in the county.

Next year, equipment worth more than HRK 1 million will be procured as part of the STREAM project to alleviate the consequences of serious river and sea pollution accidents, county head Nikola Dobroslavić said.

The total value of the STREAM project is HRK 70.5 million (approx. €9.4 million)), of which 85% comes from the EU through the Interreg Italy-Croatia cross-border cooperation programme while the remaining 15% is secured by project partners.

The value of project activities in Dubrovnik-Neretva County is HRK 5.8 million.

(€1 =  HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Zagreb International Airport Involved in EU Environmental Project

November the 11th, 2021 - Zagreb International Airport is involved in a praiseworthy European Union (EU) project with its primary focus placed on the environment and the promotion of ''greener'' airports.

We're constantly hearing about our carbon footprint and being urged to try to reduce it. With air traffic and the flight industry in general being a huge issue when it comes to trying to reduce damage, it's often difficult to know precisely what it is we can do to improve things. Zagreb International Airport will no doubt have some of its own ideas.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the European Commission (EC) has approved a new project to reduce the harmful impact of the aviation industry on the environment called OLGA - Holistic Green Airport, which includes four international airports and their local stakeholders: Paris-Charles de Gaulle (France), Milano Malpensa (Italy), Zagreb International Airport and Cluj (Romania).

The project is based on an integrated approach and was first started on the 1st of October 2021. It will work to further develop innovative sustainable measures to reduce harmful emissions caused by these airport, all while additionally working hard to improve energy efficiency, air quality, biodiversity and better waste management.

As they point out from Zagreb International Airport, where the project is now being implemented, these solutions support the European Union's general efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and their aim to improve the quality of life.

With a budget of 34 million euros, of which 25 million will be provided by the European Commission over a period of sixty months, OLGA project partners will seek to find solutions to significantly reduce the harmful impact of the aviation sector as a whole on the surrounding environment.

The OLGA project brings together 57 partners and related entities that make up a diverse consortium ranging from large and small airports, airlines and the aviation industry, to public authorities, researchers and innovative SMEs.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle and travel sections.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Croatian Chamber of Notaries Involved in Wider European Union Project

August the 19th, 2021 - The Croatian Chamber of Notaries is involved in an international project called ''Undisputed Trials in Europe/ Nesporno sudovanje u Europi'', which is being co-financed by the European Commission (EC).

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the project the Croatian Chamber of Notaries is involved in has the purpose of studying and analysing the procedures within the jurisdiction(s) that Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia have all respectively entrusted to notaries.

In the first place, this refers to probate proceedings which in almost all of the aforementioned countries, to a greater or lesser extent, are carried out by public notaties as commissioners of the Municipal Courts in whose territory they have their seat.

The project also includes CNUE - Council of Notaries of the European Union, which has developed the European Notary Network (ENN), a platform that serves notaries public in 22 European Union member states (which have a public notary services available in them) for mutual communication and assistance in all situations when working on cases with an element of foreignness to them.

In addition to the above, they were also involved in the project "Inheritance in Europe/Nasljedjivanje u Europi'', and the purpose of that was to analyse the application of the EU Inheritance Regulation over the past five years in the territory of 22 EU member states and to identify the European Commission's recommendations for the procedure of future amendments to that same regulation.

The results of the analysis are expected in the second half of 2022, and the application of this regulation through one procedure for all assets avoids the implementation of special probate procedures in all member states of the bloc.

The transfer of ownership of property to heirs under a decision on inheritance from another country is carried out according to the European Certificate of Inheritance (EPN), which was also introduced by the same regulation.

Here in the Republic of Croatia, it is issued by a public notary who issues a decision on inheritance and it isn't necessary to conduct long and expensive procedures for recognising a foreign court decision, which speeds up the process and reduces the costs of claiming inheritance.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Slow Croatian Project Processing Major Issue for EU Funding Access

August the 13th, 2021 - Croatian administration is, for anyone who has had even the remotest of dealings with it, horrendously slow. The country is famous for its draconian rules and masochistic love of stamps and red tape, and needing to get anything done in a rush is outside the realm of normal expectation. Croatian project processing is unfortunately no different, and it represents a major obstacle in withdrawing EU cash.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, when it comes to the withdrawal of money from the European Structural and Investment Funds for the previous financial period (2014-2020), Croatia has shifted to a somewhat higher speed. In one year, the country has fortunately grown by almost 20 percent in terms of utilisation, Minister Natasa Tramisak recently emphasized.

However, that means more than two-fifths of the financial envelope, worth about 80 billion kuna or 10.7 billion euros, still remains to be withdrawn. So far, more than 45 billion kuna has been paid out, ie 56 percent (with 47 percent of it having been finally certified).

A kind of fuse for the maximum use of available funds in the given deadline, which is the end of 2023, is the "stock" of contracted projects. About 20 percent more than the available "quota" was agreed upon. In addition to that, the procedures for users, including the rules for public procurement, have been facilitated, and the communication of the competent ministerial department with the European Commission (EC) has been accelerated, they claim.

With the exception of things having been skewed in the sense of the context of the ongoing pandemic, the absorption process is no longer at a snail's pace, says Tramisak. She attributes the difference in terms of utilisation compared to some other EU member states to the fact that this was Croatia's very first programme perspective, while others had been transferring large projects from previous ones, so they were faster in terms of money withdrawal.

In addition, in the first two years of the past period, calls and contracted funds weren't announced at all, and this, as she points out, is difficult for Croatia to compensate for.

However, there is something obvious in the (in)efficiency of Croatia's infamous public administration in the selection procedures for projects set to be co-financed through EU funds. The results of the recently published analysis from Jaksa Puljiz, Sanja Malekovic and Sanja Tisma from the Institute for Development and International Relations are also on this track.

They analysed about thirty calls under the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme 2014-2020 (OPCK) as the most financially important programme co-financed from the EU budget for Croatia, implemented in the period between 2014 and 2018 and worth about 12.4 billion kuna. It was confirmed that the low efficiency of the system is mostly influenced by Croatian project processing times, ie in terms of dealing with those applications. In Croatia, this implies a significantly longer time than the time prescribed by the Common National Rules, but also than the time of implementation of selection procedures that some previous studies have shown for other EU countries.

Making the first decision on funding in as many as 97 percent of the analysed calls lasted longer than 120 days for Croatia, and most often their duration was from 180 to 360 days. This is likely not a surprise to anyone who has ever tried to do, well, just about anything official here.

“These are extremely long deadlines that have numerous consequences for the absorption and the quality of project implementation. In such a long period of waiting for the beginning of their realisation, it's clear that the circumstances which are very important for successful implementation can change significantly,'' the aforementioned authors point out.

For comparison, they say that similar research once showed that in Germany, neighbouring Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovakia, between 31 and 49 percent of respondents using EU funds waited less than three months for their project evaluation results.

The problem of the duration of these Croatian project procedures has recently been highlighted by enterprises who have faced a drastic rise in the prices of certain industrial raw materials and construction materials this year. Some argue the issue to the extent that certain projects co-financed by European Union funds could even come into question.

"It used to happen, for example, that the tender (in terms of deadline) states that the competent authority will notify the applicant of the results of the tender within four months, and 10-12 months will elapse before its conclusion," a consultant for EU projects explains.

When it comes to tenders for businesses (not counting, therefore, public bodies and social groups), the impression, he says, is that they are better off and more consistently organised for farmers than those for enterprises or, for example, those engaged in the fishing industry.

In the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme, which was the subject of scientific work of the IRMO analysis, the duration of selection procedures is, among other things, a consequence of the large volume of documentation required in most cases from the applicants.

In almost 60 percent of these calls, Croatian applicants quite unsurprisingly had to submit at least 11 different documents, which is quite a high number, according to the authors. Sometimes that figure is even higher, with between 16 and 20 documents needing to be submitted, and in seven percent of cases, even more paperwork than that was required in Croatia.

Nearly 40 percent of applicants stated that their entire application with all of the required attachments had more than 100 pages when complete. Among the more extensive were, for example, public calls related to the energy renovation of buildings, the promotion of sustainable development and the restoration of cultural heritage, as well as the modernisation and construction of student dormitories.

Approximately the same percentage of applications had less than 50 pages in total, which is still a lot.

There is also a large number of frequently asked questions about published invitations, which suggests that the tender documentation needed is often very unclear to applicants. In more than two thirds of the analysed calls, there were more than 100 questions asked. This shows that the Croatian project procedure is not only longer than it should be, but complex and as clear as mud. That also shouldn't come as much of a shock to most.

All this leads to changes and additions to the tender documentation, then the extension of application deadlines, and then the later contracting or later start of Croatian project implementation in relation to the original plans. In less than a quarter (23 percent) of cases, calls didn't undergo any changes, and nearly half (47 percent) underwent two or more changes, only adding to the confusion.

This also indicates that the preparation of tender documentation for competitive tenders for the state administration was a demanding task that often resulted in its amendments and the long duration of Croatian project selection procedures.

The competent ministries and state agencies received a lot of complaints due to the request for documentation that the applicants consider to be entirely necessary.

“Among such examples is the insistence on the original excerpt from the court register instead of the competent clerk simply checking it directly over the Internet. The same is true for the original BON2 certificate from the bank instead of the "downloaded" certificate from internet banking, as well as for the tax certificate confirming the absence of tax debt instead of direct verification,'' said one EU project expert.

Some changes in that direction are already being worked on, thankfully. Minister Tramisak recently said that reforms are being made so that the eFunds system is connected to all of Fina's public services, which will reduce administrative burdens. "People will just need to give their consent for documentation to be accessed online for certain items that they had to supply themselves so far,'' she assured.

For more on EU and Croatian projects, follow our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

In-No-Plastic: Krk Beaches to be Cleaned by Robots as Part of EU Project

May the 19th, 2021 - Krk beaches are set to get a helping hand thanks to a European Union project which aims to tackle the issue of plastic and waste, artificial intelligence and the ever-interesting world of robots. 

As Morski/Dejan Kosic writes, in accordance with the strategic commitment aimed at preserving the environment and sustainable development, Ponikve is continuously launching various projects with this aim firmly in mind. Among other things, about a decade or so ago they launched a very well-received project called "Blue Bag/Plava Vreca", and now they are involved in another European Union project called "In-No-Plastic".

It is an innovative approach to the prevention of dumping, the disposal and reuse of marine plastic waste, and the project was launched on October the 1st last year, lasting until September the 30th, 2023. It involves seventeen partners from the European Union, all of whom are interested in reducing the negative impact of plastics on the sea and in the environment in general.

The goal of the project is to develop an efficient and automated solution to prevent wastewater and rainwater pollution by micro and macro plastics that, ultimately, ends up in the seas and oceans and returns to our tables within the food chain.

The total funds provided for this project amount to 7.4 million euros, and the budget proposal for Ponikve eco island of Krk is a little more than 308 thousand euros, of which 70 percent will be withdrawn from a European Union programme called "Horizon 2020", and the rest will be provided by Ponikve. In addition to Ponikve eco island Krk, two other Croatian partners are working on the project, Probotica from Zagreb and Sensum from Rijeka.

As part of this project, selected Krk beaches and bays will have macro plastics removed using innovative automated processes, more precisely - robots. The plastic thus collected along Krk beaches will be processed and useful new items will be made from it.

During the project, environmental cleaning campaigns will be organised using a special mobile application (app). In addition, seven-week demonstrations of the 3D printing of the collected waste from Krk beaches will be held every year at various locations across the island.

In Ponikve, they hope that this project will also be met with a good response from residents and other citizens, whose involvement will contribute to the success of the planned activities.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Gaming Evolution in Croatia - Construction of Campus in Novska

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 27th of August, 2020, the Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency is the holder of the PISMO (letter) project, the establishment of the business incubator in Novska, with partners in the Sisak-Moslavina County project and the Zagreb Development Agency. The value of the project stands at 20,293,944.35 kuna (with EU support amounting to 19,938,127.84 kuna), and it lasted from the 1st of September 2017 to the 1st of September 2019.

In the selection for the best county project, this one, based in Novska, entered the finals in the Contribution to Entrepreneurship category.

The Novska business incubator has gained an enormous level of popularity in just a short time and Novska has become a regional centre for the development of video games in the fastest growing industry, which earns billions worldwide. That is why the plans are expanding and moving towards the establishment of a campus for the PISMO gaming industry, which will include a faculty, accommodation for pupils and students, a gaming industry accelerator and an business incubator for eSport. Thus, the already completed phases of the development of the facility will be further supplemented.

In the first phase of the Novska-based project, free English language lessons were provided for all children in kindergartens in the county. The second phase regarded workshops for primary and secondary schools on software tools used to create video games, while the third phase is the business incubator itself. In the fourth phase, the introduction of the high school profession of ''video game development technician'', will take place, while in the fifth comes financial support for new startups that are established.

The Croatian Employment Service also joined in with the project, making special measures only for PISMO, so it pays the minimum Croatian salary and travel expenses to all those who decide to come to Novska from all parts of Croatia for training for six months.

Startups, founded by young developers who complete their high school or education as part of the incubator receive incentives from the CES to start a business in the amount of up to 100,000 kuna, Novska gives them 20,000 kuna, and Sisak-Moslavina County provides them with 35,000 kuna.

There are 33 startups operating within the business incubator, more than originally expected, because more and more participants in education in Novska remain in established startups. On top of that, twelve brand new companies will open soon.

The director of the Development Agency, Mario Celan, believes that a large number of game development startups from other parts of Croatia will move to Novska thanks to this aid. A measure intended for small and medium-sized companies from the gaming sector in the amount of 50,000,000 kuna, which is being prepared by the Ministry of the Economy, is also being prepared.

The establishment of the Novska business incubator was initially aimed at enabling entrepreneurs to do business and create new jobs in an easier and more efficient way, to encourage as many of them as possible to establish companies, ie startups, and thus contribute to strengthening entrepreneurship in Novska and Sisak-Moslavina. That's precisely what happened.

Since its inception, PISMO has provided an opportunity for many people to enter the fastest growing industry in the world, so it isn't surprising that an increasing number of unemployed people from all over Croatia are coming to Novska for their six months of training. In addition to education, where a large number of participants are learning how to create video games, the PISMO incubator also offers access to the latest technology and equipment for creating computer games, financial support for self-employment and beginning with your very own startup.

From the modern technology to which they have access, there is also VR equipment, a music studio, video recording equipment, a conference hall and much more.

Strategic investments

In addition to its own education, the incubator is actively cooperating with the local Sisak Technical School, and from September onwards, it will also cooperate with the high school in Novska.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Made in Danube - Innovation Development in Bioeconomy in Danube Region

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 25th of August, 2020, Made in Danube - Transnational cooperation with the aim of transforming knowledge into marketable products and services for a sustainable society along the Danube of the future is a project with which Vukovar-Srijem County, within the category of Contribution to Science and Innovation, entered the finals of the selection for the best EU county project.

The project was implemented across ten Danube countries - Croatia, Germany, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia, Serbia and Slovenia, started on January the 1st, 2017 and ended on June the 30th, 2019.

The total value of the project stood at a massive 14,373,639.00 kuna, the amount of paid grants stood at 12,217,593.15 kuna, and 2,156,045.85 kuna came out of already existing funds.

The main goal of the project was to improve the conditions for cooperation between companies, scientific research institutions and public bodies in the field of innovation-based bioeconomy, which will be incorporated into products and services so that local scientific knowledge is available transnationally and the long-term transfer of knowledge, innovation and technology is achieved in the Danube region. This goal was realised through what is known as a quadruple helix approach.

Fifteen agreements

Through the project, fifteen innovation partnership agreements were signed and three innovation e-tools were developed - technological offers, technological requirements and the analysis of innovation potential, which allows for the identification of the needs of the companies involved, as well as the availability of local and national knowledge.

At the level of a consortium of ten project countries, thirty technology offers and 28 technology requirements were made and added to the platform with free access, the cooperation of forty companies with scientific research institutes was included, the further analysis of the situation related to innovation potential was conducted, as was the analysis of the innovation potential of entrepreneurship, a joint strategy for the transfer of knowledge into marketable products and services was developed for three regional initiatives - 3 Local Action Plans (smart agriculture, biofuels/bioenergy and the wood sector) and finally, the Danube Transnational Bioeconomy Network in the Danube Region was fully established.

The list of tasks in the Made in Danube local action plans was continuously being updated and the established contacts of scientific cooperation are continually maintained. In this way, it will contribute to the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises located in the south-eastern Danube region and create significant changes for the entire area, supporting regional smart specialisation strategies.

Training of different kinds was conducted within the project related to innovations in the bioeconomy, and stakeholders from the scientific research sector adopted the prerequisites needed for creating innovative solutions, while strengthening and developing the vision, knowledge, skills and abilities needed to meet current challenges in the innovation sector with regard to bioeconomics.

As part of the Made in Danube project's initial implementation, the three aforementioned pilot initiatives in the field of bioeconomy were developed, one of which is the Local Action Plan for Sustainable Forestry, implemented by the Vukovar-Srijem County Development Agency.

Namely, this sector is gaining special importance in Vukovar-Srijem County through the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises from the county, five innovation partnership agreements and sixteen cooperation agreements were signed between companies and scientific research institutes from the Danube region.

The implemented activities and the Local Action Plan (LAP) for the wood sector increased the use of renewable energy sources across the Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, and it also encouraged the general public to develop and use new technologies and innovations in the wood industry, as well as the smart and sustainable use of local raw wood.

An important role of the project was to educate civil society, as well as involve experts and the general public in regard to innovation and possible solutions to problems in the wood sector at the regional level. The workshops contributed to strengthening links for the better acceptance of scientific results and the commercial success of innovative ideas and products. The idea of holding such a workshop in an informal environment was greeted with enthusiasm by the participants, which also contributed to the overall better visibility of the project and its theme.

The Made in Danube project envisages the further development of the e-tool DTIC (Danube Transnational Cooperation in the Field of Innovation), a specialised Internet platform that can be used by participants working in the field of bioeconomy across the Danube region who are interested in transferring research and innovation into applicable and market-successful solutions.

Among the most important features of the platform is the fact that users will be able to present their knowledge offer and publish requirements that suit their interests and capabilities.

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Friday, 21 August 2020

BLUE KEP: Students of Maritime Schools Educated in Modern Way

As Novac/Lidija Kiseljak/ writes on the 19th of August, 2020, Istria County entered the finals of the selection for the best EU county project with the BLUE KEP project, which is co-financed by the Interreg V-A Italy-Croatia 2014-2020 programme and was submitted within the Contribution to cross-border cooperation category. With this project, both Croatian and Italian students were involved in education and in practical work in companies, from design and electronic engineering to English, for which they eventually received a certificate.

The total budget of the project is 921,134 euros, while the budget of Istria County is 109,000 euros. The project began on January the 1st, 2018 and ended on September the 30th, 2019. The project leader was Informest, and the partners were Istria County, the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion, the Marche region, JU Rera SD for Coordination and Development of Split-Dalmatia County and the JU Development Agency of Sibenik-Knin County. The BLUE KEP project exchange programme included six partners, twelve Italian and Croatian maritime and technical high schools, 43 professors, 38 students and more than 20 local companies in the blue sector.

In addition to Istria County, which coordinated the activities, the Pula Technical School and the company Tehnomont shipyard Pula d.o.o. participated in the BLUE KEP project from the area of ​​Istria.

The BLUE KEP project enabled 38 Croatian and Italian students from the included technical and maritime schools to participate in a mobility programme consisting of a theoretical part as part of regular classes based on international educational modules and a practical part as part of professional practice in selected companies. All of the students successfully mastered the programme and at the final conference they were presented with certificates with the achieved ECVET points (a special European system of points in vocational education and training).

''Istria County is making great efforts to improve and modernise the education system, as well as vocational education, so we have accepted the initiative of the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia to be included in this project and we're very pleased with the results.

With the BLUE KEP project, we showcased the importance of networking with partners from neighbouring countries, involving schools and students in this form of cooperation and generally working together to achieve the highest quality vocational education, focused on the needs of the labour market. We're especially glad that our students and the Pula Technical School benefited the most from the project, because they wouldn't have had the opportunity to experience this unique experience without this particular EU project. I hope and believe that they will be able to use the new knowledge they've gained in the best possible way.

In addition, the school is equipped with modern computers through this project, which will be used in teaching even after its completion, and our teachers have acquired new skills and competencies in accordance with European standards. Istria County will continue to support this type of project,'' Fabrizio Radin, Istria County's prefect pointed out.

Three students from the Technical School of Pula - Filip Licul, Antonio Plese and Karlo Ritosa - as part of the BLUE KEP project, stayed on a student exchange in Udine, Italy, where they spent 45 days. Of these, they attended classes for fifteen days at the Arturo Malignani High School, the largest school in the region and the second largest in all of Italy, and spent the other 30 days at Aeriano x srl, involved in stainless steel production, where they designed products and had the opportunity to use some of the most modern machines in the sector.

"We had a great time in class and we're thrilled to have been given such a good opportunity," say Filip, Antonio and Karlo. They added that what they liked the most was that after each hour of theory, practice followed, so everything was much more interesting and easier to adopt.

“We made pneumatic and hydraulic assemblies, used new design technology and tested materials. Their school is very large and very well equipped with the latest machines. They also have a large hall with planes where they learn to repair engines. With this project, we've gained new experiences that will definitely help us in the future,'' concluded the Croatian students.

At the same time, three Italian students, hosted by the Technical School, stayed in Pula for sixteen days. From March the 1st to the 16th, Arturo Malignani High School students from Udine - Alessandra Ivanovic, Tommaso Pasut and Thomas D’Andrea - attended classes at the Pula Technical School. The Italian students were happy because they had the opportunity to meet new people, experience new ways of teaching and a completely different education system that they liked very much because there are a lot of short breaks between classes and one slightly longer for brunch, and what surprised them the most was that the students and professors speak English very well.

"I want to emphasise that the environment in the Pula school is completely different from that in the Italian one. Our school is much more formal, classes last longer and we only have one fifteen minute break a day, so at first it was hard for me to adjust to that new rhythm. This was a great experience for me, we learned a lot of new things that we don't learn in our school,'' said Alessandra.

The students pointed out that they had the opportunity to learn a lot of new things from the fields of energy, automation, CNC technologies and designing products using computers that are not available in their school.

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