About the project

DESCO - Development of strategic cross-border cooperation between letenye, prelog and ludbreg

The project DESCO is based on the mutual need to strengthen cooperation between small towns and different stakeholders and gathers three partners from the two countries, Town Ludbreg, Town Prelog and Letenye municipality. The project aims to establish cross-border co-operation, strengthen the capacities of local self-government and create a strategic basis for encouraging and increasing the number of cross-border initiatives in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), civil society and public authorities.

Advanced tools

The primary purpose of the project DESCO is to provide tools that will enable all interested in real-time to find partners or associates in one place, which will ultimately result in new business co-operations, projects and programs in the cross-border area. Tools that will enable the creation of strategic partnerships include the development of an e-platform which will have the base of various stakeholders. Also through the project will be developed different methodologies for the development of entrepreneurship, smart cities, information and communication technologies, sustainable development and how to develop project ideas, application forms and implement a joint project.


The innovative character of the project will be visible through the development and implementation of the website as a communication and collaborative tool that will serve as a platform for communication between stakeholders and mobile application through which all interested will be able to look for partners for cooperation in future projects.



Ludbreg is one of the most important regional centers in the area of Varaždin County and beyond. Its advantages are excellent position, good traffic connections, secure and well-equipped transport infrastructure and a rich cultural and traditional heritage. Ludbreg is a town located in the northwest of Croatia, in Podravina, in the east of Varaždin County, at the crossroads of picturesque hills of Kalnik above the tiny plain of Podravina.

As it is at the door of Zagorje, due to its good geographic position, the Ludbreg region offers its inhabitants and visitors the best of both regions. Archaeological remains demonstrate that Ludbreg has been rooting its roots since the pre-Roman period and throughout history has had a significant role in this area as a traffic, trade, craft and religious center, and today it is the “center of the world” not only for its inhabitants, but for numerous tourists who visit it daily.

In addition to its cultural and traditional values, Ludbreg is also an economic-entrepreneurial center. The development of the city is based on profitable investments in the development of small and medium entrepreneurship and in the economic sector. Great importance is also given to investment in human capital development, social services, introduction of innovative and creative solutions, ICT tools and raising the quality of life of all citizens of Ludbreg.


The City of Flowers, City of Friends of Children, City of Sports. It’s all Prelog. Prelog is a town near the river Drava, located on an area of about 6370 hectares. It is the second unit of local self-government is by size in Međimurje County. Apart from Prelog, the town also covers the settlements of Otok, Čehovec, Cirkovljan, Draškovec, Hemuševec, Oporovec and Čukovec with a total of 7870 inhabitants.

The name of Prelog was first mentioned in writing in 1264, in the charter of Roland of Ratold. In commemoration of this first mention of the name, citizens of Town Prelog every year on December 6 celebrate the Day of the city. The town of Prelog has always been the social, cultural, tourist and economic center of Donje Međimurje. Over the past few years, the economy of the City of Prelog has again experienced intense development.

Although Prelog still has active agricultural production, the main holders of the town of Prelog are entrepreneurship and crafts. Together with the development of the economy Town Prelog is becoming more and a more cultural center because of the intensive development of cultural and social life in the area of the City. The main holders of culture in the Town Prelog are the City Library and reading room, the Cultural Center of Prelog, the Museum of Croata Insulanus and the Tourist Board of Prelog.

Despite the cultural institutions in Town Prelog are active 88 societies, associations and clubs. With its many cultural events, the town of Prelog attracts the population of Međimurje County, as well as neighboring counties and tourists from abroad.


Zala County is located in Southwest Hungary. It borders on Croatia and Slovenia. There are 258 settlements in the county, 10 of which are towns. Population: 288 thousand inhabitants. Area: 3,784 km².

Zala County is the meeting point of various regions. Its major areas are the following: Hills of Zala, Keszthely Mountain and West- Balaton. The main rivers are called Zala and Mura. The one of the town is Letenye which is the town of Mura. The distinctive Letenye landscape covered with forests is the result of long and complex geological processes over millions of years. Letenye is 5km from the Hungary-Croatia border, where the population is 4400. Regarding its climate, its closeness to the sea is of determining factor. The climate there is most influenced by the ocean and the least by the continent.

Wood industry and silviculture, tourism as well as engineering industry are determinant in the economic life of the county. Tourists are attracted by its unspoiled countryside, the various medical spas, the romantic ”Göcsej” scenery, the lively folk art and the traditional village tourism.  Numerous cultural and entertainment events are also important for completing the tourist offer in Letenye.


Overall objective:

Provide the opportunity for joint participation in the development of strategic development for each partner individually and for the entire cross-border area that suit the needs of all involved stakeholders

Specific objectives that the project want to solve are:

Exchange of experience and knowledge among participants from the Croatian and Hungarian side

Strengthening the links and partnerships between local governments, civil society, small and medium enterprises, and citizens on both side of the border

Strengthening of the common identity and promotion of local strategic development that will spill over on the cross border area

Target groups

Main target groups that will benefit from the project are:

  1. Citizens of cities Ludbreg, Prelog and Letenye

Target groups which will be direct included in activities of the project are:

  1. Employees of cities Ludbreg, Prelog and Letenye

  2. Entrepreneurs

  3. Craftsmens

  4. Local producers

  5. Non-profit organizations

Main target groups:

1. Local governments
2. Associations of local governments
3. Non-profit organisations (NGO-s)
4. Development agencies
5. Universities, colleges
6. Educational and training organisations

Project results

Rising the number of cross border partnerships among economical subjects

Rising the number of joint initiatives between NGO’s

Rising the number of harmonized processes

4. Rising the number of institutions participating in joint activities


Crossborder cooperation

The aim of cross-border cooperation is to address common challenges commonly identified in border regions, such as poor accessibility, in particular in relation to the connectivity of information and communication technologies and transport infrastructure, local declining industries, inadequate business environment, lack of networking between local and regional administrations, low levels of research and innovation and the take-up of information and communication technologies, environmental pollution, risk prevention and negative attitudes towards the citizens of neighboring countries and the aim should be to exploit unused growth potential in the border area (cross-border development and innovation clustering, cross- labor markets, co-operation between educational institutions, including universities or health care institutions), while strengthening co-operation for the purpose of overall harmonized development of the European Union.

The Interreg V-A Hungary-Croatia Co-operation Programme 2014-2020 belongs to the network of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes, again labelled as the Interreg in the new financial perspective, which constitute an important part and the objective of the European Union Cohesion Policy. ETC programmes contribute to the overall economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union by tackling issues which cross the borders between countries and regions. The aims of ETC programmes are – among others – the creation of common identity, integrated physical space, balanced development and improved policies and governance. To achieve these aims, cross-border cooperation (CBC) programmes identify shared challenges in the border regions, and measures to address them.

The co-operation programme between Hungary and Croatia is the successor of the 2007 – 2013 Hungary – Croatia (IPA) CBC Programme. Just like the previous programme in the year of the accession of Croatia to the European Union, this programme’s co-financing is covered by the European Regional Development Fund for both countries. Thus, the principles and the best practices regulating the programming and the implementation of the instruments of the European Cohesion Policy are fully applicable. Apart from some specific rules and procedures related to the former IPA, the majority of experiences of the 2007 – 2013 Programme are relevant to the current programme and, with respect to its objectives and content, it shows strong continuity with its predecessor.

Due to its limited scope and specific cross-border nature, the programme’s guiding principle is to support selected co-operative strategic actions and pilot projects in priority fields, rather than large-scale interventions. The focus is set on enhancing economic cooperation, addressing the problems of poor accessibility or business environment; enhancing and preserving the environmental and natural assets or preventing the risk of loss related to them; fostering the lack of networks among local and regional administrations and improvement of communication between educational and training institutions and key actors of local economy.

More information on:  http://www.huhr-cbc.com/hr/


The problems and challenges we encounter in the cross-border area of Hungary and Croatia

The programming area covers a total area of 31,085 km² with approximately 2.1 million inhabitants, of which 46% in Hungary and 54% in Croatia (source: EUSTAT, 2011).

The programming area comprises the following NUTS III regions:

Hungarian counties: Zala, Somogy and Baranya,
Croatian Counties: Međimurska, Varaždinska, Koprivničko-križevačka, Bjelovarsko-bilogorska, Virovitičko-podravska, Požeško-slavonska, Osječko-baranjska i Vukovarsko-srijemska.

The program covers this main area of action;  support for competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, promoting sustainable use of natural and cultural assets, enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient Public Administration and investing in Education, Training, including Vocational Training for Skills and Lifelong learning by Developing Education and Training Infrastructure.

The program supports joint education and training services, and thanks to this cross-border program, enhanced cooperation will largely benefit Hungarian and Croatian citizens, particularly in terms of job creation, economic growth and higher quality of life in the cross-border area. The two most important preconditions of effective cross-border cooperation to be met are the existence of cooperation culture and  territorial governance frameworks which can take care of developing and implementing cooperation strategies in a continuous manner.

The problems that can be found in the cross border area refer to hiderd cooperation cooperation by poor cross-border connectivity, low level of language skills, participation in networking activities is restricted, low information flow, low capacity building, low usage of ICT technologies in provision of basic services like health or social services, low public institutional capacities and skills in cross-border cooperation and strategic/sectoral planning, data collection and assessment methods are not harmonised, no good practice exchange and transfer of knowledge between stakeholders, data collection and assessment methods are not harmonised, no good practice exchange and transfer of knowledge between stakeholders, low exploitation of renewable energy sources, small number of development directions beeing identified, there are only five cities with more than 40,000 inhabitants in the programming area, decreasing population, negative migration balance, ageing population, small towns lack full range of urban functions, the border region is characterised by economic downturn, decreasing investment value, growth rates are lower in the border region than the national averages, high rate of unemployment on both sides of the border and majority of long-term unemployed are low-skilled and women.

To improve cooperation, capacity building, information sharing and strategic development is needed for a variety of organizations at different levels of cooperation to strengthen spatial structures and address jointly relevant problems that reffer to crossborder development and dfifferent policy dimensions.


Importance of strategic planning in the cross-border area

The DESCO project is designed to produce relevant strategic documents for the Cities of Ludbreg, Prelog and Lenenye, which will cover different areas such as information and communication technologies, the application of new technologies in local communities, the area of ​​entrepreneurship, local development of small communities and asset management. The draft documents will be used as reference points for the improvement of the existing cross-border cooperation and the planning of new activities that will positively influence on the solving of identified problems in the selected areas during the project implementation and after its completion. Based on the project activities, the following strategic documents will be produced; Strategy for the Development of Entrepreneurship, Smart City Strategy, Urban Planning Strategy, Development Strategy of Town Prelog and Property Management Strategy.

Creating these strategic documents will create preconditions for joint action across the cross-border area, as each strategy will be upgraded with a Action Plan, a list of potential projects and joint initiatives and the sources of funding that will be or are available.

The aim is to create a realistic basis for joint participation in planning and implementation of strategic development for each partner individually and for the entire cross-border area which will meet the needs of all involved stakeholders. In the preparation of strategic documents, 3 partners from 2 countries will be assembled in order to enhance the activities and cooperation between the involved cities, institutions and citizens through the exchange of knowledge, experience, examples of good practice between participants from Croatia and Hungary. The aim is to strengthen partnership and cooperation between local authorities, civil society, small and medium-sized enterprises on both sides of the border.

Such an approach is intended to contribute to the identification of priority activities aimed at strengthening the development potential of all involved regions, reducing regional disparities, boosting the potential in less developed parts of the cross-border area. The drafted strategic documents will provide a framework and guidance for future action and further development based on established strategic goals and priorities, taking particular account of the way it will contribute to the individual development of local settlements involved, increasing the degree of linkage between the involved regions and stakeholders, increasing the competitiveness of the area involved, reducing economic and social inequalities and establishing frameworks for identification of project, programs and  initiatives in the cross-border area.

Due to the general economic crisis that pervades most of Europe, cooperation between institutions, representatives of civil society, business people and a broad circle of stakeholders has become a necessity. Stakehodlers of cross-border area are suspicious; they do not dare launch initiatives and joint programs because they do not have a unique methodology of action. This is the main item that will be created through the preparation of various strategic documents and it will be a methodology of action which will be established and applicable in the activity of several types of stakeholders, local self-government units, representatives of civil society, entrepreneurs, public institutions and all those interested who can work to contribute to the development of local community. Strategic documents will also include various instruments of action that will be tailor-made to any local community in the cross-border area, as it will contain relevant data and information on how to strengthen the capacities of stakeholders involved in the selected areas, description of potential initiatives and projects and sources of their funding. And strengthening the capacity of all involved stakeholders, networking and cooperation will lead to greater opportunities; transfer of knowledge, availability of new information, business cooperation and improvement of the position of all in the cross-border area.


Imre Simonyai

Head of Technical Department of Municipality of Letenye


Tel: 06/93-544-980


Petra Međimurec, dipl.pol.
Senior Professional Associate for Development Projects


Trg Svetog Trojstva 14
HR – 42230 Ludbreg

Mob: +385 99 496 61 55
Tel: +385 42 420 208

E-mail: petra.medjimurec@ludbreg.hr
Web: http://ludbreg.hr/

Mateja Kavran Matjačić, mag. geogr.
Senior Professional Associate for Projects


Glavna 35
HR – 40323 Prelog

Mob: +385 99 528 47 10

E-mail: grad-projekti@prelog.hr
Web: www.prelog.hr