Tuesday

31st May 2016

Focus

Miffed Croatian region fears unequal access to EU money

  • Zagreb - in terms of wealth there is little to distinguish the Croatian city from other EU capitals (Photo: Mario Fajt)

For English-speakers it is a somewhat unfortunate acronym covering a dull-sounding issue. But for member states, Nuts - the EU system for statistically dividing up regions - is the key to access deep pots of money.

Regions qualify for EU aid money if their per capita GDP is under 75 percent of the EU average. There are currently 270 "basic regions" in the EU. When Croatia joins next year there will be two more - Continental Croatia and Adriatic Croatia.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 'Beware of mines' (Photo: Dmitry Klimenko)

But the country's poorest region is up in arms over the artificial partition.

Slavonia, previously a well-off agricultural region but now with GDP at 34 percent of the EU average, has been lumped together with Zagreb. In wealth terms there is little to distinguish the Croatian capital from other major European cities. The result is that average wealth of Continential Croatia is now 64.1 percent.

"When I go to Brussels to talk about my region. The first they ask is: what is your GDP? We got 30 percent extra GDP overnight. But it doesn't reflect reality," says Stejpan Ribic, director of the Slavonia & Baranja regional development agency.

"We woke up at the end of the August," says Ribic, to see it divided into two regions.

The government, which had previously mooted plans to divide Croatia into five separate regions including one for the capital - has been saying the EU commission would not allow Zagreb region status. The commission says it was never asked.

Ribic, who hails from the regional centre-right HDSSB party, fears Slavonia will not be able to compete with Zagreb. It does not have the money to hire consultancies to make glossy presentations to EU officials.

"Good ideas are not enough. The EU does not pay for ideas. It pays for good, safe-looking projects," he said. Both Slavonia and Zagreb will battle to host, amongst other things, a new university campus and a waste treatment plant.

Agreeing broad priorities for EU money - often a problem for regions - becomes an even greater issue when the region itself is so disparate.

"I would say the clearance of landmines is our priority number one," said Ribic, with 500 people having died because of them since the end of the 1991-1995 war with Serbia. Often lying just off the road, the mines' presence is not only a danger to locals but hinders investment and tourism. "But that's hardly going to be the priority of Zagreb," Ridic added.

"You cannot believe how important Nuts 2 is for regions. It is everything," he noted. He advised regions of potential future member states to "keep their eyes open."

News in Brief

  1. Hungary reinforces fence on Serbian border
  2. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  3. EP president rules out return to German politics
  4. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  5. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  6. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  7. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  8. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan

Latest News

  1. EU watchdog calls for fines on shady lobbyists
  2. 2015 was 'a bad year' for EU human rights
  3. Deal with Greece will not work, says Guy Verhofstadt
  4. Greece says it cannot fulfil demands for loans
  5. Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June
  6. Pro-Brexit Tories predict Cameron leadership challenge
  7. Merkel and Hollande pledge unity at Verdun ceremony
  8. Russia mocks ex-Nato chief's new Kiev job