Croatian cities can draw money from European Urban Initiative as of May

NEWS 24.03.202316:47
Zagreb, Plica, trg, trg josipa bana jelačića, zagrebačka katedrala
Pixabay / ilustracija

As of May, Croatian cities will be able to apply for EU funding for projects in the fields of ecology, building adaptation, preservation of cultural heritage and space repurposing, to be co-financed by the European Commission with €450 million from its new programme called the European Urban Initiative.

The programme was officially launched last week at the Cities Forum in Turin, and a call for applications will be published in Turin in May.

Interested cities do not need to contact Croatian administration but can apply directly via the European Urban Initiative website.

This financing possibility for cities across the EU has also attracted interest in Croatia, so representatives of Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Pula and the Association of Cities attended the Turin meeting.

Srdjan Skunca, head of the Rijeka City Department for Development and Urban Planning, said that the new urban initiative, as well as the New European Bauhaus (which concerns architecture and construction), offer an interesting financing possibility.

“We know a lot about this but we still lack sufficient knowledge as to how to network and define projects. The Initiative is interesting to us because the money will not be channeled though the Regional Development Ministry but through direct allocations by the European fund,” Skunca said.

The European Regional Development Fund has €450 million for co-financing projects via the European Urban Initiative.

A representative of Zagreb, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Croatian capital has already prepared projects and “is looking for sources of financing,” with the European Urban Initiative being one of the potential sources.

The European Urban Initiative was officially presented ahead of the second call for applications.

The first call was published in October 2022 and lasted until January 2023. During that period, 99 projects from 21 countries applied for financing, including only three from Croatia.

The projects to be co-financed will be known in June.

Luna Polic-Barovic, an advisor at the Dubrovnik Development Agency, hopes for future EU funding as well as for ideas for the restoration of a facility which the city authorities want to repurpose.

“We are looking at what other European cities have done in order to get new ideas,” she said.

Rijeka plans to renovate the suburban railway to reduce the use of personal vehicles in the city, which account for 70% of all transport, which pollutes the air and causes congestion.

“We are on the right track as regards the preparation of a strategy for the development of the green infrastructure because that will now be open to financing,” said Skunca.

Close to 72% of Europeans live in cities and suburban areas, which are faced with unemployment, migration, demographic decline and pollution, the EC has said.