(Source: European Commission)
Thank you so much Prime Minister, dear Andrej, for receiving me here today.
And indeed we have good news. We had an excellent government meeting a few moments ago. And indeed, Croatia will be the largest recipient of the Recovery and Resilience Facility compared to the country’s GDP. Behind that is indeed also the fact that Croatia has gone through very tough times, if I think of the earthquake, then the pandemic. And all the Member States – and of course Croatia too – have been hit by the pandemic, also economically, very severely.
And therefore, it is a very special moment that we have right now because it is the European solidarity that brought us to this point. We went together through the difficult times after the earthquake. And I will never forget the phone calls I had with you at that time, Andrej, and how much suffering was here, how much fear, but the courage also with which Croatia made it afterwards into the reconstruction, and recovering from that. But immediately then right away, you were hit by the pandemic with all the consequences. And there too, we stood together.
There was a very difficult beginning, as we all remember, but we stood together, we managed to go through the very difficult beginnings of the pandemic. We decided to procure vaccines together. It was a good decision. Because I do not even want to imagine what it would have meant if one or two of the larger Member States would have had access to vaccines and the smaller and medium ones would have had no access to vaccines.
Now the vaccination campaign is moving forward, we see the increased level of protection of the elderly, the vulnerable, the frontline workers. So I encourage everybody to get vaccinated. It is protection. And it is not only the protection for oneself but also the protection for the ones you love.
But now we are moving towards the third step, that is that we invest together into the recovery. And here the Croatian plan is outstanding. I really want to thank you for the excellent cooperation. We have been working very hard, but the result is excellent. This recovery and resilience plan will shape the economy and the society for years ahead. It will make the European Green Deal a reality; it will digitise the country like never before. And therefore, it is, as the name says, an investment in the future of the next generation. So EUR 6.3 billion, as you have said Andrej, are to be disbursed over the next years with very ambitious projects.
What I want to do is hand over to you, basically, the plan approved by the European Commission for Croatia. So many thanks for the work, and congratulations to that.