Sept 30, 2008 - Environmental preservation. Land registration. Court modernization. Trade competitiveness. Since Croatia started the official negotiations process to join the European Union in October 2005, the country has had to tackle these and a wide range of other issues in order to move forward with the EU accession process.
By September 2008, Croatia had opened 21 out of 33 negotiations chapters of the acquis communautaire with the European Commission and provisionally closed three – Education and Culture, Science and Research, and Enterprise and Industrial Policy. The EC announced earlier this year that Croatia is well placed to conclude its accession negotiations by November 2009, and it is widely anticipated that Croatia will officially join the EU in 2011.
The key objective of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy for Croatia is to support the completion of its EU accession process. An institution with global experience that provides advice and analysis on a wide range of issues, the World Bank continues to play an important role as an accession ‘tool box’ by supporting Croatia and other countries in their EU reform efforts – and they’re seeing results.
Results on the Ground
The World Bank is active in a number of areas in Croatia, including sound economic management, public administration and judicial reform, private sector development and competitiveness, education, health and social welfare, as well as, environment protection. The Bank has cooperated closely with the European Commission through complementary projects and analytical work and also focused its support on capacity building efforts to assist Croatia in using EU funds.
Under the Country strategy for 2004-2008 World Bank-supported projects and programs implemented have already generated positive results:
- Reduced transaction costs. The cadastre and land registry offices and systems were computerized, reducing backlogs by more than 60 percent. As a result, 40 out of 90 Land Registry Offices have no backlogs and can register property transactions in 7 days.
- Public administration reforms. Under the new civil service legislation, assistant ministers and deputy state secretaries are hired through a competitive selection process, paving the way for continuity in civil service.
- Making Croatia a more attractive trading route. The restructuring and modernization of Rijeka Port doubled port traffic and positioned Croatia as a more attractive trading route.
- Enhanced quality of education. Reconstruction of 72 schools is helping reduce multiple shifts schools and improve quality of education for children across the country.
- Improved health care. In Zagreb, the average response time of emergency medical services was reduced from 30 to 9 minutes, saving more lives.
- Environmental protection and reduced energy costs. A new company HEP ESCO was established to support the private sector in undertaking energy efficiency projects. In the town of Novigrad 2,300 old street lamps were replaced by new energy efficient ones, reducing the town’s energy costs and light pollution.
- Preserving nature. Some 8,000 sq. km. of the Karst-ecosystem including many national and nature parks, are better protected and managed by highly skilled park rangers.
The program in Croatia is part of the World Bank’s broader strategy to tackle the unique challenges faced by Middle Income Countries (MICs). In addition to improving lending terms last year to make loans at better than market rates, the Bank is engaging MICs by sharing experiences from other countries, and helping to address complex issues like environmentally sustainable development, how to create a competitive education system, and judicial and pension reform.