EU funds promise better future for Croatia’s less-developed areas

14 Jan 2014

image PHOTO:UNDP/ARCHIVES

Karlovac information workshop aims to stimulate good project proposals

Karlovac, 14th January 2014
– A half-day informational workshop designed to stimulate high-quality proposals for European Union (EU) structural and investment funds from Croatia’s less-developed counties was held on 14 January 2014 in Karlovac at the premises of the County Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 100 participants from the public administration, civil society and the private sector were briefed on how to take advantage of the EU funding that is available for regional development during the 2014-2020 programming period. The workshop was co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, with support from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. It is part of a larger project designed to improve social and economic prospects in Karlovac, Lika-Senj and Sisak-Moslavina Counties through the use of EU funds.

“Our goal is to strengthen capacity for usage of EU funds on all levels, with special focus on the local level,” said Venko Ćurlin, Assistant Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds. “We see the project with UNDP as a way in which the state can assist the least developed local government units, primarily in the Areas of Special State Concern, which show a great need for development projects. As a result of this project, we expect more intensive preparations and an increased number of EU financed projects in these areas.”

“At UNDP, we share the Ministry’s opinion that future investments in underdeveloped areas will greatly depend on projects co-financed by EU funds,” noted Vitalie Vremis, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Croatia. “However, to use these funds efficiently, it is necessary to develop high-quality projects that will have a positive effect on growth and employment. The only way to do this is to open a constructive dialogue between local government representatives and the population living and working in less-developed areas.”

The Karlovac workshop is one of a series that UNDP is implementing in partnership with the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds as part of the project: “Preparing the ground for EU funds: Creating a pipeline of project ideas for Croatia’s less developed areas.“ The three workshops held so far, in Karlovac, Sisak and Gospić, have gathered more than one hundred participants from a range of sectors who are interested in promoting the use of EU funds in their areas.

Participants are keen to learn about the role of local and regional government in planning and implementing EU-funded projects. Municipalities, towns and counties need to understand the needs of the local population and economy in order to plan and budget for appropriate projects. To secure EU funding, projects need to be high on the list of local priorities, and also be reflected in local governments’ human and financial resources. So a broad and inclusive process of consultation is crucial to the formulation of good project ideas.

The UNDP project is expected to yield at least 51 project concepts by the end of October 2014. The informational workshops will be followed by project clinics and intensive consultations to translate good ideas into credible concepts with strong justifications. The project is also aimed at building local capacity so that in the future projects that can qualify for EU funding can be conceived and formulated at the local level without outside assistance.