Croatia is the second worst member of the EU in terms of using European structural and investment funds, Croatia’s Jutarnji reports. By the end of 2018, just under EUR 2bn of funds were paid out of the total EUR 10.7bn. The only country behind Croatia in terms of the funds paid out is Spain. Irregularities in the implementation of projects and budget corrections are major problems, according to Tomislav Petrić, director of the SAFU agency that oversees the largest Operational program of competitiveness and cohesion, through which biggest infrastructure projects are being carried out in Croatia. Currently, SAFU monitors projects worth HRK 20.7bn and more than 400 grant contracts. “The most common financial correction is about 5% of the value of the concluded contract, and so far there were 367 decisions on irregularities”, Petrić told Jutarnji. A few areas need to be addressed to improve the funds usage. Ariana Vela, a consultant for EU projects, recommends in a comment to Jutarnji that reforming public administration, improving project planning and user capacity, and not changing key laws often, as well as depoliticisng European funds will help improve the situation.
Haradinaj: “Kosovo’s borders are inviolable”
Prime minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj spoke today at the commemorative meeting in Dečani to remember the deceased fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army. He said that changing the country’s borders would mean opening the wounds of those who have fallen for Kosovo. The prime minister also commented on the current tax issues, continuing to be adamant that “import tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be lifted until both countries recognise Kosovo as a sovereign state”. He yet again strongly opposed the exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosovo, the possibility that presidents of the two countries, Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vučić, continue to bring up as a viable solution. US, Russia and some EU members also support the idea. Haradinaj’s insistence on tariffs has cooled down relations between Kosovo and the US with the latter requesting the tariffs be suspended for at least a few months so that the formal dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo can continue. Otherwise, Washington said it will consider sanctions against Kosovo. After a number of meetings of governing coalition in Kosovo failed to produce an agreement, there are now calls for the Kosovo’s parliament to make a decision whether to suspend the tariffs or overhaul Kosovo’s government.
Montenegro has Hungary’s full support on its path towards EU
The chief negotiator of Montenegro with the EU Aleksandar Drljević visited Hungary at the invitation of Hungarian state secretary for the EU Policy. They discussed Montenegro’s path towards the EU integration. Drljević reiterated achievements made by the government of Montenegro with the opening of 32 out of 33 negotiation chapters. He announced that the remaining chapter 32 – Competition – will soon be opened as well, Montenegro’s RTCG reports.