Sunday, 25 September 2022

Big Plans: HRK 452m Bridge to Connect Pašman Island to Mainland

September 25, 2022 - Zadar County has included the project of connecting the island of Pašman to the mainland in the spatial plan as one of their priorities. The will is there, but it is not yet known how and from where this project would be financed, Hina was told by the Ministry of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure.

As reported by Poslovni, the ministry points out that for the project of connecting the island of Pašman to the mainland, a feasibility study with a cost-benefit analysis was prepared in 2021 for the project "Bridge to mainland - island of Pašman with access roads to the bridge." Based on the demand analysis of the traffic model, the main goal of the study was to select the best option for connecting the island of Pašman and the mainland.

According to the ministry, the study evaluated building a beam bridge as the best option, consisting of two parts, the first of which would go from Pašman to the islet of Ričul, and from Ričul to the mainland. The estimated value of the project is almost HRK 452 million.

On the mainland side, the bridge should be connected by state road D8 with the future bypass Zadar - Pakoštane, and the route exits to the very bank of the Pašman channel at the position of cape Tukljača.

From the mainland, the planned route goes to the islet of Ričul, about 400 meters from the coast, and continues towards Pašman, crossing the Pašman channel in a length of about 1400 meters. On the island of Pašman, the route continues, via the junction, to the state road D110, thus connecting the bridge with the main road of the islands of Pašman and Ugljan. The bridge's total length would be 2203 and a half meters, and the construction, according to the projections, would last about three years.

The recently opened Pelješac Bridge is slightly more than 2,400 meters long. The project's total value is estimated at 420 million euros, including the construction of the bridge, access roads, and the Ston bypass.

"The fact is that Zadar County has included the mentioned project in the spatial plan as one of the priorities and that the preparation of the documentation has started; however, we would like to note that the mentioned pre-feasibility study needs to be elaborated in more detail, especially concerning the preparation of technical documentation, i.e., more detailed elaboration of investment and operational costs," said the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure. They also point out that the future source of financing should be determined for the chosen option, given that it is not eligible for co-financing from EU funds, so in this context, they cannot say anything more at the moment.

By the way, the Pašman - mainland bridge, for which the Municipality of Pašman received the support of the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, is one of the most important projects for the island of Pašman, but also for Ugljan, which is connected to Pašman by a smaller bridge. The Ministry of Transport financed the pre-feasibility study with HRK 700,000, prepared by the international company Ernst & Young Consulting.

Interestingly, representatives of the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation, which built the Pelješki bridge within the given deadline, once visited the municipality of Pašman to learn about the possibilities of building a bridge that would connect Pašman to the mainland. The representatives of the Chinese company said then that the bridge could be completed relatively quickly with a professional and thoughtful project. It is also not unimportant that the rocky bottom and suitable depth of about 13 meters on average would make this bridge much cheaper than the Pelješac one.

If it is built, the bridge could stop the depopulation of the two islands, and the price of land would increase, but some residents fear that the scenario of the rebuilt Vir could happen, where the bridge did not bring much good in terms of tourism.

The municipality of Pašman has embarked on a project to build the Pašman - mainland bridge, which for all islanders means an increase in the quality of life through a better connection with the mainland and a significant positive impact on the economy of the entire municipality, said the former mayor of the municipality of Pašman, Krešimir Ćosić, who believes that this project will be successful. For the municipality of Pašman, it is a strategic project, the realisation of which would provide even better opportunities for residents to stay in their hometowns. Ćosić recently said that only the islands connected to the mainland have an increase in population and that the construction of a permanent link would lead to new employment and lower living costs on the island.

Therefore, the Pašman bridge would connect the island of Ugljan with the mainland since Ugljan and Pašman, which together have about 8,000 residents, are already connected by the mentioned bridge in Ždrelac. There is even a detailed bridge construction project, and complete technical documentation made twenty years ago at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Zagreb.

The mayor of the municipality of Kukljica, one of the most developed tourist towns in Ugljan, Marin Boško, points out that in his town, there are more people in favour of the construction of the bridge than against it. "There are more pros for that construction than cons," said Boško for Hina. He points out that the prices of land and real estate would rise, and depopulation would probably stop in the long term.

As the main problem of the eventual construction of the Pašman Bridge, he points out the infrastructure that would not be able to handle significantly more tourists on the islands. "Infrastructure would have to be strengthened on both islands - both on Pašman and Ugljan, and by that, I mean water infrastructure, sewage, better access roads," said Boško, adding that the Pašman bridge would bring a lot of good, not only to tourism, which the bridge would further develop. "If we had a bridge, we could reach the mainland at any time, emergencies would not depend on ferries, and more people from the island could work on the mainland and travel more easily every day," concluded Boško.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 April 2022

Green Transition, Sustainable Economy Have No Alternative - Conference Hears

4 April 2022 - Green transition and sustainable economy no longer have an alternative, and companies that acknowledge that will do business with a greater return on investments and easier access to cheaper sources of financing, it was said at a conference in Zagreb on Monday.

The event, entitled "With ESG Criteria towards Sustainable Economy - Future Perfect Business", was organised by the International Institute for Climate Action (IICA), Media Val and the Croatian Employers Association (HUP), as part of the Future Perfect Business initiative and with the partnership of the European Commission.

Its purpose is to open a broad debate on the need to raise awareness of the sustainability of the economy and society and implement new EU regulations on environmental protection.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of business standards for companies which environmentally aware investors use for potential investments.

Addressing the event, Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić said companies in Croatia recognised sustainable, green business as the direction in which to go, confident that in a few years' time the success of firms competing on the global market would depend on business sustainability based on principles of sustainable development.

The minister said he was confident the Croatian business community would do its best to use the available funds to become globally competitive, thus enabling GDP growth and better living standards and promoting sustainable development.

IICA president Marija Pujo Tadić said that ESG criteria were one of the tools to help in the transition to a low-carbon sustainable economy and in the fight against climate change, and that their introduction would soon become obligatory for corporations and their managers.

"Businesses that recognise that, face the challenges and start implementing the necessary processes to achieve ESG goals will do business with a higher return on investments and better access to cheaper sources of financing than companies that continue to manage their resources in the traditional way," she said. 

HUP director Mihael Furjan said HUP was involved in defining legislative and regulatory frameworks related to energy efficiency, social responsibility and new sources of financing at the EU level and provided its members with education and counselling. He expressed confidence that ESG criteria were the basis for achieving greater added value, better jobs and greater competitiveness.

In that context, the HUP director mentioned the Pliva pharmaceutical company and its many initiatives aimed at making its business greener, with one of the biggest being a project to build a big solar power plant on an area of 13 hectares in Savski Marof.

Monday, 28 March 2022

European Commission Okays Croatia's Aid Scheme for Maritime Sector, Transport, Infrastructure

28 March 2022 - The European Commission on Monday approved Croatia's €7.5 million state aid scheme for the maritime sector, transport and transport infrastructure affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state aid will be used to cover fixed costs incurred from March 2020 to June 2020.

Enterprises that suffered at least a 30 percent decline in their revenue in this period compared to the corresponding period in 2019 are eligible to this aid.

The maximum amount of aid is HRK 12 million, and the aid should be approved by no later than 30 June 2022.

The temporary framework for state aid was adopted on 19 March 2020 at the start of the pandemic when the enterprise sector faced difficulties due to a lockdown.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Government Presents 52 Grant Agreements for Investment Projects

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday presented 52 grant agreements for investment in public water supply and drainage projects and in kindergartens, community centres and fire stations in rural areas. The total value of the agreements is HRK 565 million.

The agreements were awarded under the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026.

Of the 52 agreements, 25 relate to public water supply and drainage systems. Their total value is HRK 394 million, of which HRK 241 million is provided by the EU in the form of grants. The other 27 agreements were awarded under Measure 7 in the Rural Development Programme for the construction of kindergartens, community centres, sports facilities and fire stations. Their total value is HRK 155 million, but the total value of these investments exceeds HRK 171 million.

"The point is that we have joined the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, as a new, additional instrument to speed up the economic development of Croatia, with activities under Measure 7, which has a much wider reach," Plenković said, adding that the purpose of this was to improve the quality of life and infrastructure in rural areas.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 21 March 2022

€35.6m Project to Upgrade Osijek's Tram Infrastructure Kicks Off

21 March 2022 - The HRK 267 million project for upgrading Osijek's tram infrastructure was launched on Monday in that eastern Croatian city and the works are expected to be completed within the next two years.

Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić said that the project includes the adaptation to low-floor trams, which involves the reconstructing of 9.5 kilometres of tram tracks, the entire contact grid and 23 tram stops which will be adjusted for use by disabled persons.

A total of HRK 200 million (€27 million) will be ensured from EU funds while the remainder will be secured by the state government and Osijek City authorities. The project is aimed at increasing the number of commuters on public city transport, developing a modern and comfortable public transport means and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Mayor Radić said.

He underscored that this is the first large investment in the city's tram infrastructure in 14 years.

The director of the Osijek City Passenger Transport company, Dejan Rusmirović explained that the project involves the reconstruction of tram tracks, the contact grid and tram stops. It envisages laying 6.5 kilometres of underground cables and the reconstruction of two rectifier stations as well as the construction of a completely new station.

Rusmirović underscored that the project also involves the construction of a new tram depot and extending tram tracks to new locations.

We are currently at the stage of preparing the necessary documents which will also be funded from EU funds and in cooperation with the state government and county and city authorities. The low-floor trams are expected to be delivered over the next three years and our project foresees 24 new trams, ten in the initial phase and then the remaining 14, added the director..

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Arhibau Fair About Culture of Building, Sustainable Development Starts in Zagreb

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - The Arhibau fair, dedicated to the culture of building and sustainable development and showing the best Croatia has to offer in construction and architecture, was opened on Thursday.

The topic of the fair, open until the 9th, is "Future after the crisis based on the New European Bauhaus initiative".

The event was opened by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who said it was a place where one could see the things kick-starting development processes in this decade, which he said would be a  crucial decade for Croatia's development.

As a stakeholder in the Paris climate agreement, Croatia is committed to global sustainable development goals, first of all in order to contribute to the fight against climate change and its economic and social effects, he said.

"We realize that, in line with our possibilities, we must go towards a more sustainable model of economic development, while efficiently utilizing all our natural resources and seeing to it that not one of our citizens is left out of that process."

Plenković said the EU and Croatia were looking for their opportunity in the green and digital transformation of economies and societies. "Throughout history, Europe has always been one of the leaders of economic development and standards, first of all in arts, architecture, urban development, design."

He said that since 2019 Europe had been aware of the moment and needs to transform for the better so as to maintain a high level of development as well as grow further, but not at the expense of the environment and living space.

"That process is long and comprehensive. The New European Bauhaus is also an important topic, launched this year as an ecological, economic and cultural project that will lead to a common conceiving of more attractive and more sustainable projects," Plenković said, adding that the three fundamental values of the New European Bauhaus were sustainability, esthetics and decision making.

The European Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy, so a large chunk of money from the NextGenerationEU instrument will be set aside for it, he said. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced €85 million for the New European Bauhaus.

"It will be interesting to see how we can include the National Recovery and Resilience Plan into what the New European Bauhaus represents today," Plenković said.

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said the city administration's goal was to develop new tools and mechanisms for the sustainable use of the city's spaces, to upgrade physical plans with European guidelines, and to establish control mechanisms that would prevent what he called fragmented urbanism without public interest. 

The focus will also be on transforming and activating abandoned and unused city properties to create good and sustainable spaces, on decongesting traffic, new mobility, the affirmation of healthy mobility, and on designating new spaces for pedestrians, Tomašević said.

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said the conference on the New European Bauhaus accompanying the fair was right on time, ahead of post-earthquake reconstruction and the implementation of all projects from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan that promote a Europe not dependent on fossil fuels by 2050.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Sánchez Wants Spanish Companies to Build Infrastructure in Croatia

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez used his visit to Zagreb on Wednesday to open the door to Spanish companies which want jobs in Croatia to modernize railways and other infrastructure co-financed with EU money.

"European funds represent a big opportunity for Spanish companies, world leaders in sectors such as transport, renewables, and food, to share their experience with Croatian companies," he said after meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, and President Zoran Milanović.

In February, the Spanish company COMSA landed a €35.7 million contract to build waterworks in Metković, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in that southern Croatian town to date. COMSA is also modernizing a railway from Vinkovci to Vukovar in east Croatia.

Brussels is pushing for the construction of a 7,000-kilometre railway from Spain via France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary to the Ukrainian border. Known as the Mediterranean Corridor, this route could be completed in 2030. It would reduce transport costs and the pollution created by road transport.

Croatia joined the project in 2016 and sees it as an opportunity to modernize its railway from Rijeka via Zagreb to Budapest, with a branch line from Zagreb to Ljubljana. Croatia has requested the extension of its section across the Lika region towards the Dalmatia region and the southernmost seaport of Ploče.

As part of its cohesion policy to reduce differences between poor and rich parts of the EU, the European Commission made €10.7 billion available to Croatia in the 2014-20 period, but Croatia contracted projects worth more than that, so they should enter the 2021-27 EU budget. In the months ahead, Croatia will propose other projects for financing.

Spain's COMSA and other foreign companies will apply to tenders in Croatia, 85% of which will be co-financed by the EU. Since joining the EU in 1986, Spain has modernized its railways and roads with EU money.

The Spanish government, therefore, supports Croatia's accession to the Schengen and euro areas.

"Croatia and Spain share many common interests in the EU," Sánchez said at a press conference in Zagreb.

In 2019, Spain sold €840 million worth of goods and services to Croatia, while importing €266 million worth of goods, according to Croatian Chamber of Commerce data. After that record-high, the coronavirus halted trade.

Although Spanish companies are behind German and Italian ones as to their presence in Croatia, they are trying to expand operations. The Ale-Hop gift shop chain last week opened a store in Zadar, which is its first shop outside Spain and Portugal.

Spain supports EU enlargement to Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo to expand its market.

"Since coming to the helm of the government, I have always pushed for a bigger presence of my country in this region, confident that we share many things," said the Socialist Sánchez, in power since summer 2018.

At an EU-Western Balkans summit in Slovenia on Wednesday, the EU did not say when those Western Balkan countries might join the bloc.

Croatia, which joined in 2013, invited Sánchez to visit last month, but he canceled due to a reshuffle in his coalition government.

In recent years, Spain has intensified its officials' visits to Croatia. In 2019, the then foreign minister Josep Borrell visited Zagreb, which was the first visit by a Spanish minister in 14 years.

Every year 10% more Spanish tourists had been visiting Croatia. In 2019, there were 315,000 arrivals, but after the pandemic outbreak in spring 2020, arrivals dropped to 27,000, according to Croatian Tourist Board figures for last year.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page