European Commission acknowledges the Croatia's efforts during the period of last six months in the field of management of pre-accession EU funds. Therefore, on Friday 25th July 2008 the suspension of contracting of projects from PHARE 2006 was removed and 5 million EUR from IPA programme were also defrosted. However, the advisor of the EC Delegation in Croatia Oscar Benedict stated that Zagreb must make further efforts in implementation.
The EU funds available to Croatia were presented on the press conference held by Mr. Benedict and Finance Minister Ivan Šuker. Mr. Benedict stated "We aknowledge Croatia's efforts and now have a possibility to remove the suspension".
However, he emphasised that "The removal of suspension doesn't mean that it is all over, it means that the Commission now has more confidence in the State Administration" and suggested that the progress achieved in the last six months must be now put to good use.
Mr. Benedict also stated "We have arranged a sum of elements with Croatian Government which would make sure that it all comes true" and clarified that those elements imply the following: submission the Tender Dossiers on time, good quality control of documents prepared for submission, respect the conditions of submission of tenders and improvement of management and control systems.
The advisor of the EC delegation said "Good management of pre-accession funds is extremely important in times before accession..... i.e. it is the one of the most important elements by which the readiness for the accession is being measured." Croatia had EU fund CARDS, then later EU funds PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD in the total value of 489,6 million EUR at its disposal from the year of 2001. A new IPA programme was implemented in the year of 2007. Croatia has 589,9 million EUR at its disposal within this programme by 2010. After its full EU accession Croatia will have the possibility of utilization of much larger financial resources from EU Cohesion and Structural Funds.
The represenative of EC Delegation also suggested that the large amounts from EU tax payers at Croatia's disposal must not be utilized in the wrong way, but wisely and correctly. Minister Šuker stated that "The decision of European Commission is the confirmation of good performance of Croatian Government and line ministries" and that "it doesn't mean that there are no problems, that we don't need to educate ourselves more and to work more". Minister Šuker has expressed his confidence that Croatia will have a high degree of absorbtion of EU funds. Croatia had a high degree of absorbtion of EU funds even in the previous times, which was confirmed by both Mr.Benedict and Mr. Šuker.
The good example was the absorbtion of CARDS 2003 programme (even 90 percent). Now, after the removal of suspension Croatia can contract projects in the amount of 52,62 million EUR if it ensures the quality and respects the given deadlines for submission of Tender Dossiers.