The EIB Group had invested €569 million in Croatia in 2019, or 12.2 percent up from 2018, the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Dario Scannapieco, said in an interview with state agency Hina published on Wednesday.
The European Investment Bank is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB Group, owned by member countries, has two parts: the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF), the latter specialising in financing small businesses.
The group's €569 million investments in Croatia last year were equivalent to 1.05 percent of the country's GDP. Scannapieco told Hina that this reflected the bank's intention to remain one of the largest investors in Croatia, and one of the "safest sources" of accessible long-term loans for the sustainable development of Croatia's economy.
Last year, EIB invested €466 million, 5 percent up from 2018, while the EIF fund invested another €103.3 million, a rise of 60 percent compared to 2018.
The EIB has been present in Croatia since 1977, Scannapieco said, and added that from 1977 to the end of 2019, EIB's total investments came to €6.67 billion over those 42 years.
Major projects supported by EIB in 2019 included funding for the second stage of the construction of a new building that will house the university clinical centre in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka. The bank earmarked €50 million for that project alone.
Another €177 million was spent for the digitalisation of the school system in Croatia, an effort which proved to be important for online teaching rolled out nationwide during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
Commenting on the fight against the disease, Scannapieco said that the response to this crisis has to be "comprehensive and serious."
The EIB will make its resources, know-how and competence available to Europe, he added, saying that the EIB has already pepared a €40 billion rescue package to help countries cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic.