Croatia became the 28th Member State of the European Union on 1 July 2013. It attained the accession country status in June 2004. Since then the Croatian transport sector has benefited from EU provided pre-accession instruments, namely ISPA (Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession) and IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance). In order to ensure an uninterrupted structural adjustment process in the transport sector and to use the finance under IPA, Croatia drafted a Transport Operational Programme (TOP).

The overall strategic aim of TOP is to encourage faster economic growth based on market integration and sustainable transport development. This ensures smoother integration of Croatia through improvement in infrastructure, railway, and inland waterway sectors and on encouraging the balanced development of transport networks by implementing actions which ensure an equal ratio of investment.

Croatia established a Transport Development Strategy (TDS) in 1999. Presently Croatia’s efforts are directed towards the formulation of a reviewed and updated strategy for further development in the transport sector.

In 2006, the Croatian Government adopted the Strategic Development Framework (SDF) with the aim of supporting a successful and internationally competitive Croatia. The SDF identifies Transport and Energy as part of ten key strategic fields of action that require harmonised and coordinated support measures from all policy makers for successful implementation.

The main strategic tasks for Croatia’s integration into European transport research are defined as follows within the publication Transport Research Priorities for Croatia 2009-2013:

  • Increasing investments and their efficiency into research and development;
  • Restructuring Croatia’s science system;
  • Strengthening cooperation between science, government and industry;
  • Increasing participation of Croatian scientists and other bodies in EU Framework Programmes.

The most important and relevant framework documents in terms of Croatian R&D in transport are:

Institutional framework of transport research

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports (MSES) is the primary policy-making body for national research policy. The main objectives of Croatian Science and Technology policy are increasing investment into sciences, R&D and the support of all measures leading to the development of technology and innovations. Furthermore, it is aimed at increasing the participation of Croatian scientists in the European Union Framework Programmes. The MSES funds the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at the University of Zagreb. It is the leading higher education, scientific and research institution in the field of transport and traffic engineering in Croatia.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure (MMATI) implemented the Transport Operational Programme. The Ministry’s Directorate of Strategic Infrastructure Objects acts as a managing authority to the TOP. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure organises strategic infrastructure projects, financed in total or partly by the state budget. Furthermore it organises investment programs of special importance for the Republic of Croatia.

The National Science Council (NSC) is the top strategic and advisory body for the general development and quality control of scientific activity in Croatia. This includes research projects at higher education institutions. NSC is an independent body of the MSES that proposes and promotes measures for improving scientific systems and defines research priorities and strategies. NSC monitors and evaluates the quality of scientific organisations, makes budget proposals for scientific activities and organises the evaluation of scientific programmes. In coordination with the National Council for Higher Education it submits an annual proposal on the allocation of budget resources for science and higher education to the Croatian Government.

The National Foundation for Science, Higher Education and Technological Development (NZZ) is responsible for funding scientific and developmental projects in addition to the MSES. The aim of the Foundation is to promote science, higher education and technological development in Croatia, in order to enhance development and employment opportunities. NZZ provides support to scientific, higher education and technological programmes. Furthermore it promotes mobility in the field of higher education and research.

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Funding Sources and Support Initiatives