The seven biggest Croatian cities will have around EUR 345 million from EU funds at their disposal to create a more favourable environment for business and other activities, officials of the Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry said this past week.
The ministry has invited proposals to select areas where the Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) mechanism, defined as part of the Operational Programme "Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020" and the Operational Programme "Efficient Human Resources", will be implemented.
"This is the first time EU funds are being decentralised," Minister Tomislav Tolusic said at a news conference.
The ITI mechanism serves to implement activities of sustainable urban development that have a pronounced territorial dimension.
The mechanism will make available around 345 million euros to Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Zadar and Pula for activities such as the creation of a more favourable business climate, promotion of cultural heritage, improvement of the system of adult education, modernisation of vocational training, improvement of public transport services, increasing energy efficiency, etc.
"Our towns and counties know much better their priorities and needs on the ground than officials in Zagreb do, so we leave development of their urban areas to them," Tolusic said, adding that "towns will be able, in line with application procedures and agreement with the European Commission, to distribute funds for projects they consider important themselves."
The deadline for the submission of proposals is 15 July but that does not mean that towns cannot apply for other ministry projects related to EU funds.