1. What is the role of the Project Implementation Unit?

In the context of CARDS, PHARE and IPA TAIB, Project Implementation Unit is a unit within a government institution responsible for the preparation and technical implementation of EU funded projects. Within its institution PIU is directly answerable to the Senior Programme Officer (SPO). PIU closely cooperates with the EC Delegation and CODEF during project preparation and with the Contracting Authority (EC Delegation or CFCA depending on the implementation svstem) during project implementation.

2. What is a Decentralised Implementation System?

Decentralised Implementation System (DIS) is Implementation system of the EC external aid programmes where management responsibilities have been conferred to the beneficiary country. The Commission still exercises a systematic ex-ante control of the procurement and contracting processes and ex-post control of all processes whilst it retains the overall final responsibility for general budget execution. In Croatia, CARDS/PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD, and IPA will also follow decentralised implementation.

3. What are the irregularities?

Irregularity, in the terminology of the European Commission, is violating any provision of the law of the European Union (including financial memoranda, financial agreements, contracts). It refers also on violation of national laws that can be the result of actions or oversights by the economic operators (personnel, physical or legal persons). Irregularities can have negative effects that cause damage to the European Community budget in the form of unjustified item of expenditure.

4. What are the risks?

Risk is potential danger that an event or action may adversely affect the means or achievement of objectives in any part of the system. Risk assessment is a general process to identify, prevent and control risks, along with planning alternative activities if there was a risk.
5. Please describe public procurement process in line with the EU procedures.

Public procurement process consists of three primary phases: drafting of tender documentation, publication of procurement notice and contracting process. During the implementation of the first phase, all documentation necessary for launching of tender procedure is being drafted depending on the type of contract (Terms of Reference for services, Twinning Fiche for twinning and Technical Specifications for supply or works). Provision of assistance in project development, e.g. preparation of tender procedure for a certain project (drafting of Terms of Reference for services, Twinning Fiche for twining etc.) is also available whether this form of assistance is foreseen in the Project fiche. Tender documentation drafted in the first phase is being used for selection of contractor during the second phase. The CFCA is responsible for the implementation of the second phase. The type of tender documentation and specific steps which are required to be taken depend on a contract type and procedure used for tendering. Procedures and standard documents used for service, supply and work contract awards, as well as for grant awards are published in the “Practical Guide to Contract procedures for EC external actions” (PRAG). Standard documents and templates are part of PRAG Annexes. Implementation of tender procedures is based on certain contract values including the co-financing. Derogations from certain rules are allowed in exceptional cases, but only with an approval given by the EC Delegation. Evaluation Committee is responsible for evaluation of submitted offers and drafting of recommendation for contract award. Evaluation Committee members are:
  • non-voting Chairman,
  • non-voting Secretary,
  • odd number of voting members (min. five members for work contracts, min. three members for supply, services and grant contracts and min. two members for framework contracts),
  • Evaluators who are not Evaluation Committee members may be involved in the case of grant contract award
  • The final project beneficiary drafts a proposal for Evaluation Committee members (voting members) and submits it to the CFCA.
6. Please describe project implementation process

CFCA as a contractor is responsible for monitoring project implementation process, fulfillment of contractual obligations timely. The details of each phase can be found in Terms of Reference and/or Technical Specifications and are confirmed in Inception report of each project. Such details also contain information on requirements and deadlines for submission of Interim and Final reports.
Project monitoring is implemented for following purposes:
  • Ensuring that the project is monitored from technical and administrative point of view,
  • Ensuring that the project is duly implemented and that the deadlines are being respected,
  • Ensuring timely detection of derogation in contract implementation and application of mitigation or elimination measures of other deficiencies of the contract.
Monitoring activities are the following:
  • Approval of reports drafted by contracting parties,
  • On-the-spot checks,
  • Monitoring of activities related to the Work Plan approved in the inception phase of project,
  • Monitoring of incurred costs related to approved contract budget,
  • Contacts with all parties involved in project implementation,
  • Resolving and monitoring of problems,
  • Drafting reports and decisions/recommendations derived from them (e.g. contract amendments requests, etc.)
  • Contract amendments (whether it is necessary)
The procurement specialists are responsible for monitoring project implementation. After the commencement of project implementation, procurement specialists draft Activity Plan related to the monitoring of implementation (including on-the-spot checks), which is then approved by the Director of CFCA. The Activity Plan must be regularly monitored.

7. What is IPA?

Instrument of Pre-accesion  Assistance (IPA) is an integrated instrument of assistance in the pre-accession period available to the Republic of Croatia in the financial perspective 2007 -2013.

The main goals of IPA are to provide assistance to the countries candidates and countries potential candidates for accession in their alignment and implementation of the acquis communautaire as well as to prepare them to use the Cohesion fund and Structural Funds.
The IPA programme consists of the following 5 components:
- Transition Assistance and Institution Building Component
- Cross-Border Co-operation
- Regional Development
- Human Resources Development
- Rural Development

8. Where can I find procurement notices and calls for proposals for the IPA programme?

Bodies responsible for the implementation  of the IPA programme in Croatia are:
Component I - Transition Assistance and Institution Building Component
Implementing body: Central Financing and Contracting Agency (www.safu.hr)
Component II - Cross-Border Co-operation
Implementing body: Regional Development Agency (www.arr.hr)
Component III – Regional Development
Component IIIA - Transport
Implementing body: HŽ Infrastruktura (www.hznet.hr/HZInfrastruktura) and) CFCA ( www.safu.hr)
Component III B - Environment
Implementing body: Environment Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund (www.gfzoeu.hr), Hrvatske vode (www.voda.hr) and CFCA (www.safu.hr)
Component III C – Regional Competitiveness
Implementing body: CFCA ( www.safu.hr)
Component IV – Human Resources Development 
Implementing body: Croatian Employment Service (www.hzz.hr) , Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (www.aoo.hr)
Component V – Rural development
Implementing body: Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural development  (www.apprrr.hr)

Procurement notices  for all IPA components are also available on the Europe Aid website: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/funding/index_en.htm

9. Can IPA  beneficiaries be counties, municipalities and tourist boards?

They can be beneficiaries of grants within the framework of the IPA Component II – Cross Border Cooperation, IPA component IIIC – Regional Competitiveness; IPA Component IV – Human Resources Development and IPA Component V – Rural Development (please visit www.mrrfeu.hr/default.aspx?id=496)

10. Which tenders are in competency of the Central Financing and Contracting Agency?

CFCA is responsible for tenders within the Component I (Transition Assistance and Institutional Capacity Building) and the Component IIIC (Regional Competitiveness) are publicly available at the Agency's website:  http://www.safu.hr/hr/natjecaji as well as on the Europe Aid website: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/funding/index_en.htm.

11. I'm interested in grant schemes for small and medium businesses
Grant scheme funds for financing projects of SMEs are foreseen within the IPA IIIC component – Regional Competitiveness and publsihed at the CFCA's website http://www.safu.hr/hr/natjecaji?category=21&type=3&status=&pg=1&sort_by=0
Every Call for Proposals comes with Guidelines for Applicants where all relevant information and conditions for applying to a grant schemes are included
Apart from other activties, the abovementioned component finances projects that promote economy based on knowledge (competitivness) , business environment and investments, cluster development, infrastructure for incubation, commercialisation and technology transfer, business advisory services, training of business support institutions and equiopping support institutions that provide e-business services and trainings.

12. Where can I get more information about investments in agriculture?
Investments in agriculture are foreseen within the IPA Component V – Rural development. The body responsible for managing that programme is the Ministry of Agriculture, Directorate for Rural development, EU and International Cooperation (http://www.mps.hr/ipard/ ),while the implementing body is Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural development  (www.apprrr.hr).
13. What possibilities are provided by the IPA Operational Programme for Human Resources Development?
This Operational Programme is financed by the IPA Component IV, more about the Programme can be found at: http://www.ljudskipotencijali.hr/. We suggest you find the information about the funding possibilities at impoementing agencies' websites: Croatian Employment Service (www.hzz.hr) and Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education.

14. Does the IPA Programme foresees investments into business infrastructure and equipping business zones with communal infrastructure? Can a local self government unit be beneficiariy of the IPA funds?

Opportunities for business infrastructure development are foreseen within the RCOP and are limited to development of business infrastructure in public ownership. Similar opportunities exist within the Cross Border Cooperation Programmes (information available at www.mrreuf.hr)

Conditions of applying to such projects are defined by individual call for proposals  so it is advisable to follow information at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds website (www.mrdeuf.hr) and CFCA's website  (www.safu.hr ).which is responsible for publishing Call for Proposals. The funds are intended for communal infrastructure in business zones, particularly for local community and eneterprises in the ownership of counties, cities and municipalities.

15.What opportunities are there for SMEs to apply for grants? Why is it stated that a company that applies for a grant cannot generate profit? What is my motivation to apply to such Call for proposals?

EU funds represent public money collected from EU taxpayers. Therefore, grants are awarded for a common good, instead of private benefits. Their purpose is not generating profit, but developping internal capacities of companies (education of employees, modernisation of business...) with the goal of achieving better market competitivness.

16. Gdje mali i srednji poduzetnici mogu naći informacije o fondovima EU koji su njima na raspolaganju?

Natječaji se raspisuju i objavljuju na stranicama SAFU gdje se također nalaze i Smjernice za prijavitelje u kojima se nalaze specifične informacije i smjernice za određeni natječaj. Također, podaci su dostupni i u Praktičnom vodiču Europske komisije za postupke ugovaranja  vanjske pomoći koji se može naći na stranicama Europe Aid-a:http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/implementation/practical_guide/index_en.htm. Za sve ostale podrobnije informacije molimo da provjerite stranice SAFU: www.safu.hr.

17. Which institution is responsible for informing on the use of EU funds by SMEs?

 Ministry of Economy has access to the biggest amount of infomration about projects and programmes intended for the entrepreneurship sector. All open tenders have to be published on CFCA's website and interested citizens can also contact Croatian Chamber of Economy, Euro Infor Center at www.euroinfo.hr or by email at: eicc@hgk.hr.

18. Which associations or educational institutions organise trainings for preparing tender documentation for open calls for proposals?

Various associations and companies organise seminars on the subject of project cycle management and preparation of tender documentation.However, there is no official list of such associations and companies. Ministry of Administration in cooperation with Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds (MRDEUF) organises such trainings for the purpose of fulfilling the needs of civil servants. On the other hand, MRDEUF often organizes seminars for all interested persons in cooperation with institutions such as Croatian Chamber of Economy or CFCA. Regional development agencies also conduct consultations and educational programmes for local self-government units and other potential beneficiaries.

19. How much time (approximately) is needed for preparation of a project proposal?

In line with the procurement procedures of the European Commission, all calls for proposalsare open from 2 to 3 months (depending on the co-financing rate). The period of two months should be enough to prepare a project proposal, but in case the applicant doesn't have previous experience, this period is increased.