“The project to be implemented under the agreement builds on existing cooperation and at the same time opens up new opportunities for Norwegian research groups and companies. Together, Norway and Croatia are well placed to lay the groundwork for the creation of new jobs in Europe by promoting green innovation,” said Minister and Chief of Staff at the Office of the Prime Minister Vidar Helgesen, who is also responsible for EEA and EU Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
State Secretary Ingvild Næss Stub and Deputy Minister Jaksa Puljiz signed the agreement. (Photo: Christian Halvorsen, MFA)
The project will be financed by Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants. Some EUR 1.7 million has been allocated to the establishment of a national centre of expertise on the environment, marine and maritime research and innovation, to be based in the Croatian town of Sibenik. Situated on the Adriatic coast, Sibenik is a popular tourist destination, but the town has found it difficult to attract and retain skilled workers.
The centre of expertise will seek to establish cooperation with Norwegian partners with a view to developing joint education and research programmes. It will also promote technological development and business cooperation between Norway and Croatia.
In the period up to 2017, Croatia is to receive a total of EUR 9.6 million through the EEA and Norway Grants for use on a number of different projects. The agreement was signed in Zagreb this afternoon by State Secretary Ingvild Næss Stub and Croatian Deputy Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Jaksa Puljiz.
Other projects covered by the agreement:
- Justice sector reform (EUR 3.2 million)
Improvements to the physical working conditions at the courthouse in Karlovac will help to reduce the amount of time spent on processing cases and safeguard people’s protection under the law. Experts from the Council of Europe will also assist with the introduction of efficient case processing procedures, which will be adopted by other courts in due course.
- Integrated schools (EUR 1.3 million)
The establishment of a school in Vukovar with joint classes and a joint syllabus for Croatian and Serbian children will help to enhance understanding between the ethnic groups in the city. A similar project will also be developed in the town of Knin.
- Civil society (EUR 1.3 million)
Project funding will be allocated through open calls for proposals. The projects will seek to strengthen NGOs and make them better able to influence developments in the areas of social justice, democracy and environmental protection/climate change. EUR 100 000 has been earmarked for projects designed to address the needs of the Roma.
- Tripartite cooperation (EUR 0.1 million)
The project will seek to enhance dialogue and cooperation between the social partners in Croatia, including employer and employee organisations and public authorities. The project will be implemented in cooperation with Norwegian partners.
The EEA and Norway Grants
The EEA and Norway Grants are designed both to reduce social and economic disparities in the EEA and to strengthen cooperation and relations between Norway and the beneficiary states. The aim is to develop a robust and forward-looking internal market in the EEA. The EEA and Norway Grants 2009–14 will provide funding amounting to some NOK 15 billion. Projects and programmes will run until 2016/17.