Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said in Dubrovnik on Friday that financing for the Peljesac Bridge construction project was not questionable and that a contractor might be selected by the year's end.
Speaking at a press conference after a working meeting with European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corine Cretu, Tolusic said: "The Peljesac Bridge is a done deal. It is just a matter of days before the project is sent to the European Commission. All the studies have been completed or are nearing completion. It is no longer a matter of years but of months. We might have a tender and a contractor already this year, provided no complaints are submitted."
Cretu said that Croatia was in a specific situation in that its citizens have to pass through another country, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, to reach the rest of Croatia.
The southernmost part of Croatia is cut off from the rest of the country at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the sea.
Cretu said she was encouraging the Croatian government to enter into political debate with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Peljesac Bridge project, adding that the Commission would assess the project within three months of its submission.
The application must explain why such a large concentration of EU funds is necessary for a single project, she noted.
Responding to questions from the press, Tolusic said that a debate was still under way on the percentage of co-financing for the Peljesac Bridge. He said that one of the options was to spend the maximum 85% of the allocation for transport, but if the percentage was lowered there would be more money left for other projects that were under preparation.
"That will be decided by the government. We are still discussing it," Tolusic said, stressing that all problems with Bosnia and Herzegovina relating to the project had been dealt with.
Cretu said that over the next four years Croatia had a chance to absorb more than EUR 10 billion from EU funds.