Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Saturday he would do everything so that in the European Union's next seven-year budget Croatia was given appropriate cohesion funds, which he added were the driver of development and investment.
"We must do everything to get as much as possible now that a big member state, a net contributor, Great Britain, has left the Union," he said in Brussels.
"Alongside Portugal, we are one of those countries in which European funds account for the bulk of public investment. Also, the fact that we have been an EU member state only seven years puts in a special position and I'm sure the colleagues will acknowledge that," Plenkovic said after talks with European Council President Charles Michel.
They talked as part of preparations for an extraordinary EU-27 summit at which member states' leaders will try to agree the EU's 2021-27 budget. Michel convened the summit for February 20.
Plenkovic said that when his government took office in 2016, only 9% of the financial envelope for Croatia had been contracted and only 1% paid.
"Today 86% of the funds have been contracted and over 31% paid. That is this government's legacy in the absorption of European funds, which are the driver of agriculture, infrastructure, the economy, equal regional development. We put special emphasis on less developed parts of Croatia such as Slavonia."
Negotiations on the EU's seven-year budgets are always difficult and challenging. This time they are harder because of the departure of the UK, which contributed €12-14 billion to the EU budget. It is also necessary to fund new challenges such as the fight against climate change, migration, and allocations for innovation and digitisation so the EU can keep up with global technological development.
Member states' heads of state or government first have to reach a political agreement on the total budget and the distribution of the funds by sector. This calls for a unanimous decision and reaching a consensus is very difficult.
After leaders reach a consensus, talks begin on legislative acts by sector that are necessary to implement the seven-year budget.
Plenkovic and Michel also talked about enlargement, negotiations on future relations with the UK, the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the European Green Deal.