In the first six months of this year, Croatia drew EUR 506 million from European Union funds, as against the EUR 545 million drawn over 2015, caretaker Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said in Cakovec on Wednesday.
"Our goal is to draw a billion euros by the end of the year," he told reporters, adding that the caretaker government was not slowing down the absorption of EU funds but that absorption could be faster if things were "more normal".
"That won't prevent us from reaching the target amount of EUR 1 billion," he said, adding that communication with the European Commission was normal, tenders are being advertised and contracts signed.
Tolusic underlined the importance of EU funds for the Croatian economy, saying the state budget was based on them too and that grants stimulated the competitiveness of the national economy.
We must always try to draw more than we pay into the joint European coffers, he said.
Asked why incentives for energy-efficient homes were not being paid, Tolusic said that until now 80 percent of the incentives was paid from national funds, while now European funds were being used, covering 50-60% of the incentives.
"The tenders are ready, but we are negotiating so that Croatia can get a higher incentive because Ireland, for instance, has a 100% incentive," he said.
Tolusic visited Cakovec with caretaker Enterprise Minister Drko Horvat for the signing of a contract on the allocation of a HRK 8.8 million grant from EU funds for converting a former military complex into a student dorm.
(EUR 1 = HRK 7.5)