After entering the European Union, Croatia will have to invite tenders for internal maritime transport from all shipping companies in EU countries, but there are ways of protecting the interests of domestic shipping companies, a presentation of the results of a study on access to the market, government subsidies and cabotage heard in Zagreb on Thursday.
The study was drawn up as part of the PHARE 2005 pre-accession programme by the European Consultants Organisation (ECO). It is worth EUR 178,000 and will be used by the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Croatian Competition Agency.
In international tenders, Croatia can protect Jadrolinija and other shipping companies by grouping a large number of shipping lines, especially seasonal ones, in a given instance of public procurement, study coordinator Guido Van Meel said.
This would eliminate competition from Italy and Greece because shipping companies there would not have enough ships to cover all shipping lines, he added.
Van Meel said that as far as small ships are concerned, Croatia has the right to set special requirements such as a Croatian crew and the knowledge of Croatian for officers communicating with the crew.
He also said that Croatia has the right to subsidise 10 per cent of the cost of construction of new "white fleet" vessels, but that it has to notify the European Commission.
State Secretary for the Sea Branko Bacic said that Croatia annually directed HRK 550 million in grants to the maritime sector, with subsidies for public liner transport to the 47 inhabited Adriatic islands accounting for HRK 350 million. He added that those subsidies would increase to HRK 450 million until the end of the year on account of increased fuel prices. (Hina)