- Published: 16.12.2021.
Third High-level meeting on Rebuilding and Recovery after the Earthquakes in Croatia
On 14 December 2021, a third High-level meeting on Rebuilding and Recovery after the Earthquakes in Croatia was organised remotely between the Croatian authorities and the European Commission.The meeting was opened and moderated by Ms Sofia Alves, Director for Administrative Capacity Building and Programmes Implementation II of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban policy. Ms Alves congratulated the Croatian authorities for their tremendous dedication and hard work invested in the earthquakes recovery thus far; however, she underlined that there remains a lot of work to be done.
The Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Mr Darko Horvat highlighted that his Ministry has overall responsibility for activities related to the construction and renewal. He emphasised that Croatia is the only EU country hit both by the Corona pandemic and by two earthquakes. This has resulted in a unique opportunity to benefit from several sources of EU and other funding as well as the support of the Commission services through such meetings and technical assistance. On that note, the Commission stands ready to support the Croatian authorities by organising peer exchanges with other authorities.
The focus of the meeting was the state of play regarding a comprehensive approach to earthquake repair and recovery for which the foundation was set after the previous two high level meetings of December 2020 and May 2021. Now, all efforts need to be invested into implementing measures on the ground and accelerating the absorption of available funds, in particular the EU Solidarity Fund for which the deadline is approaching first. Concretely, by 17 June 2022 the Republic of Croatia needs to spend EUR 683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund allocated for the series of earthquakes that hit the city of Zagreb and its surroundings in March 2020.
In order to address this challenge and to ensure coordination of the various available funding resources, the Croatian authorities have established a new unit at the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, which will serve as the focal point for the overall governance of the process of earthquake recovery. This unit will coordinate all recovery related activities financed by the EU funds, in particular the EU Solidarity Fund, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Ms Nina Obuljen-Koržinek, Minister of Ministry of Culture and Media explained that, after the initial phase of the project designs and contracting of HRK 8.2 billion worth of projects in Zagreb
it is to be expected that the absorption rate will improve in the coming months. Many of these projects are intended for funding both by EUSF and RRF – the first to remediate the urgent consequences of a natural disaster and the second to finance complementary measures through the “building back better principle”. A further challenge is that of progressive damage i.e. the same buildings were hit twice by the two series of earthquakes. The Croatian authorities are carrying out a thorough assessment of the state of implementation and a full update will be available in January 2021.
As a conclusion, the Croatian authorities and the Commission services agreed to continue working closely together to put this comprehensive approach to earthquake recovery in motion and absorb the funds, so they deliver the best possible value for the affected citizens in a timely manner.