The European Commission is refusing to pay more than €44 million from European funds to Slovakia because of an error encountered in a 2011 application for money to help pay for construction of a D1 highway section between Sverepec and Vrtižer (near Považská Bystrica), Transport Minister Ján Počiatek said after a cabinet session on Wednesday, February 20.
“The management of European funds during the previous government, mostly under [former transport minister] Ján Figeľ [Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)] was incompetent and inadequate. And the consequences are rearing their ugly head even now, when the commission refuses to cover a certain portion of payments,” Počiatek alleged, as quoted by the TASR newswire. According to the Transport Minister, the previous government included unjustified expenditure equalling more than €5 million in the original application, made in 2011. "This was blatant incompetence on the part of the govern[ment]," said Počiatek.
As long as the problem remains unresolved, the European Commission will not cover any further payments for Slovakia, even for projects planned for 2013 or later. "Now it all comes down to how efficient our communication with the commission really is," Počiatek said.
Figeľ reacted by claiming that it was his predecessor from the first Smer-led government, Ľubomír Vážny (who is now deputy prime minister for investments), who was responsible for the failings. In turn, Vážny reiterated, according to TASR, that it was Figeľ who informed the European Commission – in 2011 – that non-claimable expenses are in fact claimable.
The SITA newswire wrote that the decision will also impact another European programme, covering the environment, which contained no flaws but, because it was assessed together with the transport programme, has had its allocation from European funds suspended too.
Sources: TASR, SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
21. Feb 2013 at 14:00