Minister: Croatia ‘making significant progress’ in using earmarked EU funds

NEWS 03.06.2022 13:20
Source: N1

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister, Natasa Tramisak, said on Friday that significant progress in the absorption and use of EU funds had been recorded over the past year, adding that since its admission to the EU, Croatia had absorbed close to 56 billion kuna more than it had paid into the EU budget.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on a report on the use of EU funds in the period from 1 January to 30 June 2021, Tramisak said that compared to the year before, the rate of funds being paid increased from 57% to 72% while project certification rose from 47 to 58%.

Last year, we overtook eight countries and moved up from 27th to 18th place in the EU. We are currently better than Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Romania, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Luxembourg and Austria and are currently around the EU average in terms of the use of funds, the minister said.

With the help of EU funds more than 500 kindergartens were built across the country, a number of enterprise zones were opened, and the reconstruction of earthquake-hit areas and construction of replacement homes is being financed, as is the social and utility infrastructure, Tramisak said.

We are working on a new methodology to avoid selecting projects depending on how quickly they apply for funding but rather to select the best projects, she said, adding that this month a new head of the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (SAFU) should be appointed.

The recruitment procedure was repeated three times because we want a person who, in addition to meeting formal conditions, is familiar with the management of EU funds, she said.

Former SAFU director Tomislav Petric was replaced after he was arrested in a corruption investigation together with former minister Gabrijela Zalac.

Tramisak confirmed independent MP Ruzica Vukovac’s allegation that during the reporting period, 410 reports were filed to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) over suspected irregularities, noting that no irregularities had been found in 250 cases while findings in the other cases were pending.

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