Extension of deadline for using EU quake relief successful

Croatia's reputation and good relations with the EC and objective circumstances due to which a portion of the money from the EU Solidarity Fund would not be spent in a short period of time have resulted in the extension of the deadline to use earthquake relief, PM Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

Ahead of an informal EU summit dedicated to the Ukraine crisis and an EU-African Union summit, Plenković met in Brussels with EC President Ursula von der Leyen, after which they both said that Croatia would be able to use the EUSF for earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb until June 2023, which has been adjusted to the period for the use of the allocation for the earthquake in Banovina and progressive damage caused.

"A solution is always found when there is a good will and good reasons," Plenković said.

"We have succeeded regardless of the many doubting Thomases who claimed that deadlines could not be extended. But we have here a reputation, influence and good relations and the objective reasons that have put us in a situation in which a portion of the funds would possibly not be used in such a short period of time... I am not gloating, I'm just saying that we work for Croatia, for faster reconstruction and that we want to invest maximum effort to facilitate that job," Plenković said.

He said that now that the pressure of short deadlines had been removed, it was necessary to step up reconstruction work.

"That means faster work by (Construction) Minister Darko Horvat, who is in charge of reconstruction, I'm referring here also to (Health) Minister Vili Beroš, the health system, the education system, of which Minister Radovan Fuchs is in charge, and the heritage and institutions of which (Culture and Media) Minister Nina Obuljen is in charge. Great responsibility also rests with the City of Zagreb and all the other departments. We now have enough time and I believe the funds for both Zagreb and Banovina will be utilised," Plenković said.

He explained that von der Leyen and the EC understood Croatia's arguments, which was that in less than a year two strong earthquakes occurred in cities close to one another, with the second quake in Banovina causing progressive damage in Zagreb that had been hit by the first quake, and all of that happening in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is why the proposal was accepted that the deadline for using relief for Zagreb be merged with the last deadline for Banovina, June 2023.

Text: Hina