Development opportunities and challenges of eight counties showcased at the first session of the Pannonian Croatia Coordination Council
ZAGREB, 26 March 2021 - Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak announced today the preparation of a Pannonian Croatia Industrial Transition Plan. Prefects of the eight Pannonian counties: Bjelovar-Bilogora, Brod-Posavina, Karlovac, Osijek-Baranja, Požega-Slavonia, Sisak-Moslavina, Virovitica-Podravina and Vukovar-Srijem counties, as well as representatives of the World Bank participated in the discussions. The Plan aims to stimulate new private sector investment, increase employment, and improve the standard of living in the eight counties. This region hosts almost a third of the country’s population, four of the 10 largest cities and comprises 40 per cent of Croatia's territory.
The Pannonian Croatia Coordination Council aims to facilitate cooperation between the eight Pannonian counties in responding to their shared development needs. Combining resources will maximize the development impact of their joint actions. The region has high rates of unemployment, poverty, population decline and emigration, especially in smaller and more remote municipalities.
"Pannonian Croatia has the potential to strengthen its regional competitiveness by attracting foreign investment, supporting the development of small and medium-sized companies, and modernizing production. This is our opportunity to implement structural changes in the economy of Pannonian Croatia and to solve the problem of structural unemployment. Economic recovery and equitable development of this region can be achieved by investing in research and development, supporting the green and digital transition, focusing on tourism that puts value on preservation of natural and cultural heritage and the development of smart skills. Investments in strategic sectors such as agriculture, ICT, food production, wood processing, mechanical engineering and metal processing, as well as tourism are of exceptional importance," said Nataša Tramišak, Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds.
The Pannonian Croatia Industrial Transition Plan is a pilot initiative of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds (MRDEUF), with the aim to bolster the competitiveness of the Pannonian region, through the creation of a strategic framework for the development of the regional economy. The Plan is focused on a set of priority industries including: (1) agri-food, (2) wood processing, (3) information and communications technology, (4) tourism, and (5) metal processing and mechanical engineering. The Plan will be developed over the coming six months.
"We are pleased to support the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds in this pilot as the Pannonia Plan is intended to be a regional collaborative effort that aims to tackle the needs of the region, in contrast to previously fragmented development initiatives taken exclusively at the county or municipal level," said Elisabetta Capannelli, World Bank Country Manager for Croatia. "Development of the Pannonia region will improve the quality of life for people living in the region," Capannelli added.
"Our intention is have all prefects from the eight participating counties take part in the preparation of the Industrial Transition Plan for the Pannonian region and to involve regional development agencies, representatives of the five priority industries, trade associations, civil society groups, and the academic community in the development and design of the Plan," said Ivan Anušić, County Prefect of the Osijek-Baranja County. "The opportunities and challenges of all eight Pannonian counties are very similar, as well as the development projects needed to strengthen their economies, agriculture and tourism. By exchanging best practices among the counties, each county can better prepare EU-funded projects ultimately bringing about the revitalization of economic activities and creating new, high quality jobs," Anušić concluded.
Since 2018 the World Bank has supported MRDEUF through a four-year technical assistance in the implementation of the Growth and Jobs in Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem Program. The objective of this collaboration is to provide support in the implementation of the Government's Slavonia, Baranja & Srijem Project aimed at catalyzing the economic revival and balanced development of Eastern Croatia. As of 2020 the project has been expanded to cover a further three counties: Bjelovar-Bilogora, Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties, and now covers the Pannonia region in order to coincide with the new EU territorial classification of Croatia’s NUTS-2 regions.