The launch of the 8 most successful projects which received grants under the 3rd Call for Proposals was officially marked at conference on May 21 of the EU funded IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme (CBC) for BiH and Croatia in Mostar.
The total value of the awarded grants is 3.5 million EUR. Successful projects which were selected among 182 applications, presented their objectives and expected results at the Conference.
This CBC programme provides a great opportunity to local communities in the border region of BiH and Croatia to address common issues in various sectors, as well as to develop and integrate their tourism potential, improve the environmental protection, support the development of SMEs, and enhance conditions for increased social cohesion, etc.
Through this programme, the EU provided financial support in the amount of 7 million EUR per country over the 2007-2013, with the aim to contribute to good neighbourly relations between BiH and Croatia and support the socio-economic development of the border region.
In his welcome remarks, Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross-Border Cooperation at the EU Delegation to BiH, Massimo Mina, emphasised that the ultimate goal of this assistance is to increase the economic potential of the border region and thus create better living conditions for its citizens.
“That is why we awarded grants to projects such as ‘BEE Promoted’ to support SMEs in production of honey and other bee products, and ‘Forest Eye’ with focus on reduction of risks of natural disasters such as forest fires, and ‘Ćiro’ for development of new tourist offers, i.e. bicycle trails on the old railway line,” said Mr. Mina.
He added that in terms of further assistance, the EU has ensured continued support to this area through a trilateral cooperation programme that includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro. “We are now preparing for the implementation of the next programme in the period 2014-2020,” he concluded.
The Conference, which gathered participants from BiH and Croatia, provided not only an opportunity for presentation of statistical data on the 3rd Call for Proposals, but also for the activities and results of the projects “IRRI”, “PROGRES” and “Our Lady of Sinj Route”, as examples of successful cross-border cooperation under the 2nd Call for Proposals of this CBC Programme.
Assistant Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds of the Republic of Croatia, Helga Bubanović–Devčić, emphasised that these projects are of great importance to the local community and for beneficiaries in the cross-border region of BiH and Croatia, as well as that their greatest value is the exchange of experience, knowledge, creation of new connections and solving socio-economic problems in the area.
Head of Department for Cross-Border, International and Special EU Assistance Programmes to BiH at the BiH Directorate for European Integration, Nada Bojanic, pointed out that NGOs and municipal authorities in BiH and Croatia exhibited remarkable cooperation during the implementation of the CBC Programme, as well as strong interest of potential applicants from the programme area and a very high absorption of funds allocated by the EU, which proves capacity of beneficiaries.
The Conference was organised by the Programme Operating Structures, Directorate for European Integration of BiH Council of Ministers and Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds of the Republic of Croatia in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to BiH and Agency for Regional Development of the Republic of Croatia, with technical support of the Joint Technical Secretariat of IPA Cross-Border Programme Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina 2007-2013.