Zovko hosts conference: IPA III connects people beyond borders
Split, 11 October 2021
At the start of the European week of regions and cities, Member of the European Parliament Željana Zovko, hosted a conference “IPA III: Connecting people beyond borders” in Split today. The speakers discussed the prospects of the recently adopted Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, IPA III and its impact for cross-border cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The recently adopted instrument is the financial arm of the EU’s enlargement policy and supports the countries in the Western Balkans with their reform agenda in light of their European integration. Zovko is the co-rapporteur for the new regulation and has negotiated the legislative file with the Commission and the Council on behalf of the European Parliament.
After a keynote presentation by Stella Arneri, Deputy Secretary of State for European Territorial Cooperation and Denis Redzepagic, Head of the political sector of the Commission representation in Croatia, a political panel discussion took place in which the participants shared their experiences with European financial assistance and cross-border projects. Among the high-level speakers were Blazenko Boban, the Prefect of Split-Dalmatia County, Mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak, and the Prime Ministers of neighbouring cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely Nevenko Herceg from Herzegovina-Neretva county, Ivan Vukadin from Hercegbosna county and Zdenko Cosic from West Herzegovina county. The director of KBC Split, Julije Meštrović and the director of SKB Mostar, Ante Kvesić completed the panel.
In a second panel, experts from the academic, public and private sector provided their insights on the challenges and success stories of regional development and the implementation of the instrument of pre-accession assistance. The panel consisted of the dean of Split Faculty of Economics, Vinko Mustra, Professor Mirjana Milicevic of the University of Mostar, Ana Soldo of the EU integration office at West Herzegovina county, Marica Babic, Deputy Director dev. agency in county Splitsko-Dalmatinska and Florijan Celic, founder of iDeo Plan.
Zeljana Zovko stated in her opening remarks that IPA III will be the most important tool for the EU in its enlargement policy in the coming years. She stressed that in the past, the EU has supported projects in the border region to promote and improve cross-border environmental protection, strengthening and diversifying the tourist offer and enabling better governance in the region. “With a historic budget of more than 14 billion euros, the EU has reaffirmed its commitment to support the Western Balkan countries with their reform agenda and to progress on their European integration.” Zovko said.
With the conference, the Member of the European Parliament aims to increase the awareness of the European support to the Western Balkans and promote the financial support for the development of regional cohesion. After the recent adoption of the regulation, the European Commission is working on the multiannual programming in cooperation with the benefitting countries. Project proposals will be soon subjected to a test of maturity and effectiveness, on which the financial allocations will be based.