The Croatian Employment Service – CES (Croatian: Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje – HZZ) has implemented the projects funded by the European Union since 2003; with the aim of strengthening employment, meeting the needs of the labour market and monitoring the changes in the labour market. Through the CARDS and PHARE programmes, Croatia had an opportunity to use European funding to increase the participation in the stabilization and association process, to build institutional capacity in order to function effectively within the EU, and to promote economic and social cohesion. The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) replaced the aforementioned programmes in the period 2007-2013, with the aim to assist candidate countries and potential candidate countries in the alignment with the EU acquis and preparation for its implementation.
The Croatian Employment Service has implemented the IPA projects aimed at assistance in transition and institution building, cross-border projects, and projects aimed at human resources development, that is, at the promotion of employment, social inclusion, education/training and further training. The priorities include the improvement of an access to employment and sustainable inclusion in the labour market, through strengthening of the implementation of active labour market policy, capacity building of employment service, strengthening of social inclusion and integration of people with aggravated access to the labour market. In addition, the CES is an active participant also in other EU programmes, such as PROGRESS and Lifelong Learning Programme, through which it deals with the issues of anti-discrimination and diversity in the labour market, matching supply and demand of skills in the labour market, mobility, etc.
After Croatia had joined the European Union, a number of opportunities opened up to withdraw the funds through structural instruments (second half of 2013), European structural and investment funds (2014 -2020). As one of the main beneficiaries of the European Social Fund through the Operational Programme Efficient Human Resources, the Croatian Employment Service has continued to work on active inclusion and improvement of access to the labour market, especially for disadvantaged persons, on issues of sustainable integration of young people into the labour market, implementation of local employment initiatives and strengthening the availability and quality of information and services in the labour market.