European Union programmes present integrated activities with the purpose of promoting cooperation among members states in various areas connected through common EU policies.
Although the EU Programmes, based on a special item in the EU Budget, are generally intended for the EU member states, some of them are also available to countries that are in the process of accession to the European Union. In this manner, the Republic of Croatia has used and participated in the activities of a significant number of programmes since 2005. The legal framework for Croatia’s participation in EU Programmes in the pre-accession period was the Framework Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Croatia on the general principles for the participation of the Republic of Croatia in Community programmes (Official Gazette – International Agreements No 6/2005), and separately concluded Memoranda of Understanding for each of the Union Programme.
As an EU member state, Croatia fully participates in all EU programmes, regardless of previously signed memoranda of understanding and is no longer obligated to pay annual membership fees.
Most of the previous programmes have been fully implemented by the end of the EU financial period 2007-2013. The European Parliament has adopted new legal frameworks for programmes in the 2014-2020 financial period. On July 2, 2014, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted a Conclusion on the Republic of Croatia’s participation in the EU Programmes in the 2014-2020 financial period, thus designating institutions relevant and persons responsible for the coordination of Croatia’s participation in the mentioned programmes and designated the state administration institutions included in the implementation of specific programmes in the 2014-2020 financial period.
Each programme has a specific legal basis and different implementing rules, which are determined by a specific legislative framework for each of the programmes (EU founding regulations).
Most of the EU programmes are implemented in accordance with the centralized implementation model in which the European Commission bodies – a General Directorate (DG) responsible for a particular programme, decides on the type and duration of a programme, available budget and call for project proposals. In some cases, DGs have entrusted the implementation of the programme to the specialized Executive agencies of the European Commission, which then manage activities under the supervision of the DG responsible for a certain programme. In the case of a decentralized model, it is about transferring the implementation structure to the national body. Thus, in the case of decentralized activities under the Erasmus+ programme, the national body is represented by the Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes. Financial supervision or audit is carried out or supervised by the European Commission, OLAF and the European Court of Auditors.
Due to the centralized implementation of the majority of the programmes, access to information and assistance to potential interested applicants is secured at the national level. Within the responsible state administration body, there is a technical support service for a particular programme, or a national contact point (national coordinator) responsible for informing, promotion and visibility of a programme, through which the wider public and potential users can get all the necessary information related to a particular EU programme. In certain cases, national contact points or national coordinators of a particular programme are relocated, and do not function as a part of a delegated state institution.