Programming, the design of programme documents during the programming period, is based both on the Union’s priorities and the priorities of the member state. Each member state negotiates the content of programming documents both on national level, through the prioritisation of investment needs between all sectors, and through informal and formal dialogue with the European Commission. During the programming period, many meetings are held in the form of an informal dialogue between the member state and the European Commission. In this process, the member state presents national priorities, operations, and a plan of projects and activities that will be financed from the EU funds. In order to ensure funding, each member state needs to take into consideration its contribution to the common EU goals. What follows then is a formal dialogue, i.e. submission of the programming documents to the European Commission during which the member state receives the European Commission’s official comments on the submitted documents.
National priorities, operations, projects and activities that a member state is planning to implement are defined by its strategic framework. They are defined to a more detail in the working groups for programming. In each member state, the working groups for programming consist of the representatives of responsible bodies on a national, regional and local level from each sector which is responsible for drafting strategic planning documents.
Besides the responsible bodies, the representatives of partners participate in the process of programming, thus ensuring the partnership continuity and implementation of partnership principle. A minimum partnership is ensured with the representatives of responsible regional, local, municipal and other public bodies, economic and social partners as well as civil society representatives, such as partners from the area of environmental protection, NGOs and bodies responsible for the promotion of social inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination, including the bodies representing local action groups. Special attention is paid to the partners on local and regional levels which ensures that all developmental needs and priorities are taken into consideration. In order to maximise the influence of EU funds, it is necessary to achieve close cooperation of public authorities in the member state on all levels – national, regional and local as well as a cooperation with partners. By including partners in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EU funded projects, the member states ensure that the EU funds are used in the most appropriate way and channelled towards the relevant projects.
The representatives of partners from civil society organisations participated in the working groups for programming of the financial period 2021-2027 through a public call for nominating candidates from the civil society in the working groups as well as their alternate members. See: https://udruge.gov.hr/vijesti/poziv-na-predlaganje-kandidata-za-predstavnike-organizacija-civilnoga-drustva-za-clanove-i-zamjene-clanova-radnih-skupina-za-izradu-programskih-dokumenata-za-financijsko-razdoblje-2021-2027/5238. At the proposal of civil society organisations, the Council for the Civil Society Development nominated up to three members and alternate members as the representatives of civil society organisations in each working group.
At its session on 5 November 2020, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the Decision on Operational Programmes related to Cohesion Policy for the financial period of the European Union 2021-2027 in the Republic of Croatia, and the bodies in charge of their preparation (within Cohesion Policy):
The proposal of number and content of programmes was based on:
The most important element taken into account when defining the number and content of the programmes were the guidelines arising from the 2030 National Development Strategy (NRS). In addition to established sectoral policies, NRS 2030 focuses on the territorial approach as one of the main commitments of the Republic of Croatia in the period until 2030. Consequently, balanced regional development, smart specialisation and improving the position of the regional economy in global value chains are indispensable elements in building a new EU programme architecture.
Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion and Operational Programme Effective Human Resources 2021-2027 represent continuity in relation to the current financial period and combine previous experiences and knowledge in the framework of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion (without territorial approach) and the Operational Programme Effective Human Resources.
These programmes will be oriented to all those sectors / policies which, by their nature, are implemented at the national level, are derived from the administrative competence of state bodies or where the beneficiaries of EU funds are the bodies founded by the Republic of Croatia. This primarily concerns the implementation of sectoral and multi-sectoral strategies, national plans, implementation programmes, and the National Reform Programme.
The establishment of the Integrated Territorial Programme (ITP) in the new programming period, based on the lessons learned in relation to territorial development, including the Slavonija, Baranja and Srijem projects, enables expanding funding opportunities for local and regional initiatives, in accordance with identified needs. Focus on regional growth and development is the main characteristic of this type of programme.
The information about the key stages of programming will be available to the public on our social media platforms in due time. Consultations with the interested public are part of the legislative procedure for passing a new law, other regulations or acts, so they regularly include the interested public in the decision-making process through consultations and providing feedback about the proposals of the new law, other regulations or acts. This process contributes to the increased quality of regulations and public services. Therefore, according to Article 11 of the Right to Access to Information Act („Official Gazette“, No. 25/13, 85/15), the programming process includes consultations with the public conducted through the central state consultations portal “e-Consultations” (https://savjetovanja.gov.hr/) as well as other consultation methods with the interested public.
The process of programming also includes a strategic evaluation of the influence of the strategy, plan and programme on the environment in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act (Official Gazette, No. 80/13, 153/13, 78/15, 12/18, 118/18) and Regulation on strategic environmental assessment of strategy, plan and programme (Official Gazette No. 3/17). The strategic evaluation is a procedure to evaluate a probability of significant influence on the environment caused by the implementation of the programme. It is carried out during the process of drafting a programme proposal and before finalising the programme proposal and executing the process of the programme adoption. A study with supporting documentation will be published on the central state consultations portal “e-Consultations” for the purpose of consultations with the interested public.
One of the key elements of the above-mentioned legislative framework is its content. It represents a legislative common framework for all the member states, which enables the European Union to harmonise its investments and align the direction of economic trends with its priorities. On the other hand, a member state is responsible for harmonising the European Union’s priorities with the national context and its legislative and strategic framework in order to fulfil the enabling conditions. However, in order to ensure necessary preconditions for the efficient and effective delivery of the Union’s support through the funds, the EU has created a limited list of the enabling conditions and a concise and comprehensive set of objective criteria for their evaluation. Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the expenditure incurred cannot be included in the request for payment submitted to the European Commission by a member state. In order to keep the efficient framework for investment, the EU will regularly monitor fulfilment of conditions to enable implementation during the entire financial period. It is important to ensure that the support operations are implemented consistently and in accordance with the established strategies and planning documents of every member state. Fulfilled conditions will enable the implementation ensuring that all the co-financed operations are in accordance with the policy framework of the European Union and the member state.
The requests put before every member state could be found in Annex III and Annex IV of the Common Provisions Regulation.
With the aim of commencing the process of drafting programming documents for the new financial period 2021-2027, the Government of the Republic of Croatia, at its session on 5 November 2020, adopted a Decision on Operational Programmes related to Cohesion Policy for the financial period 2021-2027 in the Republic of Croatia and bodies in charge of their preparation.
Article II of the above Decision states that a list of operational programmes is established, including the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2021-2027 and the Integrated Territorial Programme 2021-2027 for the purpose of using funds from the structural instruments for the financial period of the European Union 2021-2027. Furthermore, Article III of the mentioned Decision establishes that the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds is the body in charge of organising and coordinating the process of preparation of operational programmes for the financial period of the European Union 2021-2027, and is in charge of preparing the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2021-2027 and the Integrated Territorial Programme 2021-2027.
The process of programming also includes a strategic evaluation of the influence of the strategy, plan and programme on the environment in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act (Official Gazette, No. 80/13, 153/13, 78/15, 12/18, 118/18) and Regulation on strategic environmental assessment of strategy, plan and programme (Official Gazette No. 3/17). The strategic evaluation is a procedure evaluating the probability of significant influence on the environment caused by the implementation of the programme. It is carried out during the process of drafting a programme proposal and before finalising the programme proposal and executing the process of the programme adoption. A study with supporting documentation is published on the central state consultations portal for the purpose of consultations with the interested public.
The strategic environmental impact assessment is carried out on the basis of the results determined by the Strategic Study, the content of which is determined by the Decision of the Ministry. In the process of determining the content of the study, the Ministry shall publish on its website the Decision on Programme Development, programme starting points and objectives and inform the public on how to participate in the strategic evaluation process in accordance with Articles 5, 6 and 12 of the Regulation on Informing and Participation of the Public and Interested Public in Environmental Protection Matters (Official Gazette 64/08).
All documents related to the strategic environmental assessment of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2021-2027 and the Integrated Territorial Programme 2021-2027 can be found at the following link.