Following 194 successful twinning projects for other beneficiaries, this is the first time the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (SAFU) is the beneficiary of one such project to improve its own efficiency in managing European funds, it was said at the official presentation of the Standard twinning light project in Zagreb on Tuesday.

The project entitled "Strengthening capacity of the Central Finance and Contracting Agency in its role of Intermediate body level 2 (CRO IB2)," valued at 250,000 euro, is being implemented in cooperation with Lithuania's Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) as part of the IPA 2012 programme for a duration of 6 months.

"The twinning project that Croatia is implementing in cooperation with Lithuania is not that lavish however, it is exceptionally significant because it will allow us to use Lithuania's experience in managing EU funds," Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said, adding that so far this year Croatia had absorbed almost HRK 6 billion from EU funds. Tolusic believes that at the end of the year that amount could be HRK 8 billion.

SAFU Director Tomislav Petric said that he expected that cooperation between the Lithuanian and Croatian agencies in the implementation of this twinning project would improve the agency's efficiency in managing and implementing European structural funds in Croatia, underscoring that SAFU was facing a challenging period and any help was welcome.

"SAFU is currently implementing five large EU programmes. The agency is in a phase of transition from pre-accession funds to an agency for structural funds as well as preparing to merge with the Agency for Regional Development, hence the reason for applying for this twinning project," he said.

In the period from 2007 to 2016, SAFU concluded more than 1,270 project agreements with a total value of more than 640 million euro. It is also responsible for projects with a total allocation of 1.5 billion euro from the EU 2014-2020 financial perspective within the framework of the "Competitiveness and Cohesion" funds, he said.

CPMA Director Lidija Kasubiene underscored that the Lithuanian agency has a rich experience in managing and verifying projects co-financed from EU structural funds and has continually adapted and improved procedures to achieve efficient operations.

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