Efficiency of The Croatian Public Administration in the Selection of Projects Co-financed by the European Union Funds
In order to improve the management of cohesion policy funds of the European Union (EU) in Croatia, an obligation has been introduced to carry out an independent evaluation procedure for the preparation and implementation of planning documents of this policy. The intention is to monitor its implementation and improve its quality, thus ensuring the greatest possible positive effects of investments in each member state and the EU as a whole. The research focused on the quality of implementation of cohesion policy in Croatia by choosing a very important segment of the management process – the evaluation of the project selection system within the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020 as the financially most important EU programme in Croatia. The development and application of project selection criteria falls within the competence of each EU member state, but with the obligation to respect the key principles set out in the EU legislation. The analysis of the selection system has shown that the national authorities have created a fairly standardised project selection system with a number of rules that should ensure a high level of transparency and reduce any procedural errors of conduct. In that respect, Croatia can be placed among the new member states characterised by demanding tender documentation and a complex methodology for evaluating project proposals. Further analysis has shown that the project selection system is quite lengthy and inefficient. The administrative complexity is burdensome for all participants in the project selection process, thus making the project selection system a typical example of gold-plating in which national authorities ensure that the relevant provisions of EU law are respected in a fairly inefficient way. In such circumstances, the overall positive effects of the selection system related to transparency and reduction of procedural errors are diminished.