Government Unhappy With Absorption Of EU Funds: Babis

Andrej Babiš, European Union

Prague, July 24 (CTK) – The government is not happy with the Czech Republic’s absorption of the European Union funds, and it must pay more attention to the issue than it has, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said at a press conference following a meeting of the council for European structural and investment funds (ESIF).


Cabinet members were asked to send Regional Development Minister Klara Dostalova a list of calls for projects planned until the end of this year, Babis said.


The European Commission paid 13.2 percent of the allocated Kc580.7bn to Czech subsidy recipients from the start of the 2014-2020 programming period until the middle of this year, according to data of the Regional Development Ministry.


The Czech Republic has Kc334.5bn, or 57.6 percent, of the allocated aid secured by contracts, the ministry said.


In January-June, the European Commission paid some Kc12bn to subsidy recipients, according to the ministry.


The Czech Republic has to absorb another EUR1.5bn (some Kc39bn) until the end of 2018, Babis said.


Ministries’ communication with the EU will have to be approved by the Finance Ministry and the Regional Development Ministry, Babis said adding that it is important to coordinate these activities.


Project calls worth Kc662bn have been announced, that is 114 percent of the total 2014-2020 allotment, Dostalova said.


“We try to include more sources in the calls,” she said adding that the EU funds absorption has to be quicker.


The most problematic programmes are the Integrated Regional Operational Programme, the Operational Programme Prague – Growth Pole of the Czech Republic, the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation, and the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education, Dostalova said.


Investment programmes depend on the construction season lasting from April until the end of the year, when there is increased interest, Dostalova.


The European Commission allowed the Czech Republic to transfer a half of the EU aid originally allocated for high-speed internet to other programmes, which concerns about Kc8bn, Dostalova said at the press conference.


The money will go mainly to regions affected by coal mining, that is the Moravia-Silesia, Usti and Karlovy Vary regions, she said.


In the 2014-2020 programme period, the Czech Republic can draw a total of EUR23.9bn (Kc617.5bn) from EU funds.


At the end of this year, the European Commission will assess how countries fulfil their obligations within the Europe 2020 strategy. The Czech Republic can lose 6 percent of the allocated amount if it fails to meet certain conditions.


In the 2007-2013 period, the Czech Republic was allotted about Kc700bn from EU funds, and about 4 percent of it remained unspent.