- Published: 24.03.2023.
6th high-level meeting held with the European Commission on post-earthquake reconstruction in Croatia
Representatives of the European Commission welcomed the significant increase in the absorption of funds from the EU Solidarity Fund and called for additional effort in the last quarter of implementation.On Friday, 24 March 2023, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, as the national coordinating body for the implementation of the EU Solidarity Fund, organised the 6th high-level meeting with the European Commission on reconstruction and recovery after the earthquake in Zagreb. The meeting was held in a hybrid format and, in addition to the physically present participants, the representatives of all implementing bodies for both earthquakes and the representatives of the European Commission followed the meeting via video conference.
Since at the beginning of April we are entering the last quarter of the implementation of EU Solidarity Fund assistance funds, the aim of the meeting was to inform the European Commission about the state of implementation and to provide an overview of challenges and measures to mitigate them.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and the Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Branko Bačić and the Director at the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission (DG REGIO) Sofia Alves.
In his introductory presentation, Minister Bačić gave an overview of the activities carried out since the meeting held in December 2022 and highlighted the adoption of the new Reconstruction Act, the merger of the Ministry with the Reconstruction Fund and the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing Care, and the amendment of the Common National Rules that simplify procedures and reduce the administrative burden in the implementation process. He emphasised that the activities on the ground are intensified and that the coordinating body supports the implementation in many ways, which is evident from the current absorption that exceeded 61%.
Head of Sector Maja Buterin Kranjec presented the overall state of implementation of the EUSF funds, giving an overview of absorption by all operations and by both assistance envelopes from the EUSF. Requests for reimbursement of spent funds were received in the amount of EUR 593 million, additional costs financed by simple direct allocation amount to EUR 15 million, which in total amounts to EUR 608 million, or 61% of the total assistance from the EUSF funds. Projections for the total use of funds from the EUSF will require certain reallocations of funds from operations that will not use the received funds by the deadline to the operations whose needs are greater than planned.
Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Šime Erlić gave an overview of investments in reconstruction from ESI funds. Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek, State Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education Stipe Mamić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health Tomislav Dulibić, Deputy Mayor of the City of Zagreb Luka Korlaet, Director at the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Damir Šoštarić and State Secretary Ivo Milatić from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development gave an overview of the absorption of implementing bodies with the largest allocations in their respective competencies. Dragan Jelić, Acting Director of CFCA, obtaining the role of an independent audit body, presented an overview of the audit procedures performed that gave positive results.
During the meeting, the European Commission held a presentation on informing and visibility, and proposed tools for improving communication with the public.
Director Alves welcomed the demonstrated absorption progress and called on Croatian authorities to direct investments from the EUSF into operations that will be realised by the end of the implementation period (30 June 2023). She called for additional efforts in the remaining time, stressing that it is evident that a great deal of work has been done under the given circumstances.
In their closing words, Minister Bačić and Director Alves expressed their satisfaction with the cooperation at a high and technical level so far and emphasised in particular the value of the exchange of experiences with the Italian Civil Protection achieved through the TAIEX REGIO system. They agreed on the next steps to be taken and announced the 7th high-level meeting that will be held in September 2023.