The reason for the poor state of affairs in Slovakia drawing available EU funds is poor priority-setting, excessive bureaucracy and complexity in the paperwork, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová said after a meeting with Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, in Bratislava on May 23, the TASR newswire wrote, adding that another factor is Brussels's refusal to pay for certain projects that allegedly included unjustified costs.
“We'll have to pay for them out of the state budget,” said Radičová, referring specifically to the 'social enterprises' project set up during Robert Fico's government that cost the state €24 million.
It also recently emerged that the European Commission will ask for the return of €4 million it provided for reconstruction of Bratislava Airport. The prime minister noted that steps taken by Brussels have encouraged Slovak ministries to introduce tougher conditions for applicants who seek EU funds, making them almost inaccessible.
“I believe that the new rules will speed up the drawdown process as we've planned,” Radičová said in reference to measures designed to remove 68 obstacles to accessing EU funds.
Hahn noted that the EC is aware that bureaucracy is the main obstacle for small and medium-sized enterprises interested in seeking EU funds, adding that the EU executive body welcomed Slovakia's initiative to simplify the process.
“We also realise that we have a certain task here as well,” Hahn said.
The level at which Slovakia had drawn down EU funds within its Operational Programmes was only 5 percent last year, the seventh-lowest figure in the EU.
Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
24. May 2011 at 14:00