Today, as Croatia joins the European Union, it also becomes a shareholder of the European Investment Bank, which has been providing loans in Croatia for more than twelve years. In addition, Croatia is the first country to have benefited from the technical initiative JASPERS before becoming a member of the EU. JASPERS helps countries to prepare projects for EU grant financing.

EIB President Hoyer stated: “On this remarkable day I should like to congratulate Croatian citizens on their country’s accession to the European Union, which opens up new possibilities for the benefit of all Europeans. Croatia’s success is a good example for other countries in the Western Balkans region that are working towards stability and prosperity. The EIB, as the EU’s Bank, will continue to finance priority projects in Croatia and put the country in a better position to face current and future economic challenges”.

The EIB has been operating in Croatia since 2001 and has provided loans totalling EUR 3.25 billion to date, thereby fostering the integration process with the EU, helping Croatia to meet the EU accession criteria and encouraging harmonisation with economic developments in the EU and ensuring the best possible preparation for EU membership.

Currently, EIB operations cover important sectors of the country’s economy, ranging from basic infrastructure in transport, environment and energy to manufacturing and services, and including support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via local financial institutions, to increase SME access to long-term financing.

To that end, the EIB has been cooperating closely with well-established Croatian public and private financial institutions. Through these intermediary banks and leasing companies, it has been co-financing smaller projects, mostly in industry and services, including tourism, energy/energy savings and environmental protection, as well as infrastructure in the health, education, urban renewal and social housing sectors. Almost half of the EIB’s lending in Croatia to date (48%) consists of support for SMEs.

It is not only the Bank that is providing finance in Croatia. Upon joining the EU, Croatia will become eligible for EU grants. To enable it to receive such grants immediately after joining the EU, JASPERS (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions) – a technical assistance initiative provided jointly with the European Commission, the EBRD and KfW, which helps with the selection and preparation of projects financed by EU grants – commenced operations in Croatia at the beginning of 2012.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) which is a subsidiary of the EIB, provides risk financing solutions to financial intermediaries to support SMEs and foster innovation in Europe. The EIF signed a guarantee agreement under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme supporting micro-enterprises that will generate a portfolio of new loans worth EUR 30 million. It has also committed EUR 1.8 million in guarantee transactions, as a result of which EUR 22.5 million of new loans for SMEs could be made available.