European funds are the financial instruments which support the implementation of a certain EU policy in the member states.
One of the most significant policies is the Cohesion policy for which the EU has in the financing period 2014-2020 earmarked 376 billion EUR from the EU budget. In the financing period 2007-2013 347 billion EUR was earmarked for the same purpose.
Cohesion policy of the EU is financed from three main funds:
1.COHESION FUND – aims at the member states whose gross national product per capita is less than 90% of the EU average and finances the projects from the area of transport and environment.
2.EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND – aims at strengthening of the economic and social cohesion in the European Union and decrease of differences in development of its regions.
3.EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND – encourages employment and possibilities for employment in the European Union.
European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund are also known as structural funds. Apart from the above mentioned, in the financial perspective 2014-2020, the following funds are at disposal:
4. EUROPEAN AGRICULTURAL FUND FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT
5. EUROPEAN MARITIME AND FISHERIES FUND
All five funds have a common title European structural and investment funds (ESI funds).
ESI funds 2014-2020
By the entry into full membership of the EU, the Republic of Croatia has become a beneficiary of the EU funds. In the financial period 2014-2020 the Republic of Croatia has at its disposal in total EUR 10,676 billion from the European Structural and Investment funds.
Out of that amount, EUR 8,397 billion is envisaged for the objectives of the cohesion policy, EUR 2,026 billion is envisaged for agriculture and rural development, while EUR 253 million is envisaged for development of fisheries.
The OP Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020 (adopted on 12 December 2014) and Efficient Human Resources 2014-2020 (adopted on 17 December 2014), on the basis of which the utilisation of the allocated funds may commence, were adopted together with the first third of the operational programmes of the EU member states.
EU funds 2007-2013
In addition to ESI funds, the republic of Croatia currently utilises also the funds from the structural instruments of the financial perspective 2007-2013 in the amount of EUR 800 million, which have been allocated to Croatia as a new member state for the first 6 months of the membership in the European Union. From the stated amount, the EUR 449.40 million is earmarked for the implementation of the cohesion policy.
For the financial period 2007-2013 the Republic of Croatia has prepared four operational programmes (OP Transport, OP Environment, OP Regional Competitiveness and OP Human Resource Development) in which, according to certain sectoral areas, the measures which are crucial for the accomplishment of the defined priorities are identified as well as the mode of their implementation.
Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA)
The Republic of Croatia will in the upcoming years continue to implement the projects financed through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), the integrated pre-accession EU fund for Croatia for the period 2007-2013. Main objectives of the IPA programme are providing the assistance to candidate countries and potential candidate countries in harmonisation and implementation of the EU acquis communautaire as well as the preparation for the utilisation of the Cohesion and structural funds.
Five components of the IPA programme:
1. Transition Assistance and Institution Building
2. Cross-border Cooperation
3. Regional Development – Transport, Environment, Regional Competitiveness
4. Human Resource Development
5. Rural Development
IPA represented a continuation of the first generation of the EU funds: CARDS, PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD. It was also a preparation for the implementation of the ESI funds.