Document on EU funds signed

European Commissioner for Regional Policies Michel Barnier signed on December 18 a framework document outlining the provision of European funds to Slovakia in 2004-06, involving €1.61 billion (more than Sk66 billion) for development of lagging regions of Slovakia, the TASR news wire reported.

Slovakia will be able to use €1.04 billion from structural funds and €570 million from the cohesive fund. Signature of the document will follow after Eurofunds talks are wrapped up.

Although Slovakia will not become an EU member until May, Eurofunds disbursements will already be possible as of January, providing that projects are in line with EU legislation in areas like regional policy, public procurement, environmental protection, and financial control.

Commissioner Barnier said he appreciated Slovakia’s progress in preparation for Eurofunds. However, he emphasised the necessity of further steps.

"Slovakia has to ensure that the particular legislation will come into force and the implementation of the programme could thus start in January 2004," said Barnier.

In Slovakia’s case, the strategy of EU regional help focuses on four development priorities: increased competitiveness, job creation, agriculture and country development, and reinforcement of balanced regional development.

Slovakia will take on the priorities through four operating programmes. €151.2 million is reserved for the industry and services programme to support the growth of industrial production, better integration of science and development into production, more effective exploitation of energy, and the tourist industry.

Slovakia will be able to use €284.5 million through the programme for human resources - the aim of which is to increase the flexibility of the labour market, decrease unemployment, and counteract the social separation of vulnerable groups, mainly Roma.

The Programme for basic infrastructure has a budget of €422.4 million and will focus on the limiting effect of road access on regional development. It will also address local infrastructure and environmental improvements, which are likewise lagging outside of the capital and western Slovakia.

The fourth programme is aimed at agriculture and country development and includes €183 million for enhancing the effectiveness of agricultural production, modernisation of the processing industry, and upping the living standards of people living in these regions.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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