The European Investment Bank Group, consisting of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and its subsidiary, the European Investment Fund (EIF), provided EUR 590m of new loans, guarantees and equity investment in Croatia in 2017. The EIB granted loans of EUR 538m and the EIF made available EUR 50m in the form

of guarantees and equity investments in small businesses. The EIB Group’s operations in Croatia account for some 1.22% of Croatia’s GDP, ranking Croatia third among EU Member States in this regard, far above the EU average of 0.46%.

Good start to 2018 operations.  The EIB is keeping momentum by announcing new financing and advisory agreements with its Croatian counterparts in a wide range of sectors:

First private sector EFSI loan in Croatia for Adriatic Coast tourism.  The EIB signed today a loan of EUR 16m with Valamar Riviera d.d – Croatia’s leading tourism company. This is the first EIB transaction in Croatia with a private sector company that benefits from the support of the EU budget guarantee under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financing component of the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE). The EIB loan will co-finance the completion of Valamar Girandella Resort with the construction of the first five-star Kinderhotel in Valamar Riviera’s portfolio. With the hotel opening in April this year, the process of repositioning destination Rabac as leading leisure destination for high-end guests will be completed. This loan is complementary to an intermediated loan of EUR 44m granted to Valamar through Croatia’s public development bank HBOR in March 2017.

EUR 15m for green businesses.  In addition to the EFSI operation with Valamar, the EIB is also pleased to announce the signature of a EUR 15m loan to HBOR to support investments targeting biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation, particularly focusing on green infrastructure projects. This operation benefits from the support of the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), a financial instrument developed jointly by the EIB and the European Commission. The loan will be accompanied by technical assistance to help HBOR identify and foster eligible business and public-sector investment opportunities in this strategically important field to encourage green growth.

Croatia is an exceptionally nature-rich country, being one of the top three countries in Europe for plant diversity. Over 34% of the country has EU-level nature protection status under the Natura 2000 network. Businesses which benefit from these rich natural assets, and in whose interest it is to safeguard this natural asset base, include tourism, sustainable agriculture and forestry. In an urban context, investments in nature-based solutions to address the problems of intense heatwaves and increased flood events – such as permeable paving and green roofing – can help to make cities and towns more resilient to climate shocks and also offer increased amenity value for residents. 

Advice for investment projects.  The EIB has also signed an Advisory Agreement with Croatia’s Ministry of Regional Development and European Funds (MRDEUF), enabling the EIB Group, with the support of the Ministry, to provide advisory services to public and private entities. Advisory services will help to identify, prepare and develop investment projects in the framework of the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH). The Hub embodies a partnership between the EIB and the European Commission. It represents the second pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe and provides a single point of entry in Croatia to a comprehensive offer of advisory and technical assistance.   

Highlights of 2017 investments: Strategic infrastructure sector.  In 2017, the EIB increased its lending by EUR 15m to finance the expansion and upgrading of Dubrovnik Airport, part of the trans-European comprehensive airport network, thereby contributing EUR 32.5m in total to this project. Besides generally improving traffic access to this otherwise geographically detached region of Croatia, the investment is helping to improve traffic flows and alleviate congestion at peak hours in addition to enhancing security and service quality. Finally, airports are generally considered to be job generators, so the project is also fostering economic growth and employment.

Loans for SMEs and mid-caps.  The EIB concluded six intermediated loan contracts amounting to EUR 414m with Croatia’s financing institutions in 2017. These institutions are using the EIB funds to finance projects carried out by SMEs and municipalities in the fields of local infrastructure, environmental protection, energy, R&D and innovation, and services, including tourism.

EIB loans have thus improved the access of SMEs to medium and long-term funds on advantageous financial terms. The estimated aggregate number of SME and mid-cap projects financed by EIB loans in Croatia in 2017 is around 1 100, supporting approximately 15 000 jobs.