Czech Republic managed to draw 96.4% of available EU funds

The amount is EUR25.8bn (CZK697bn) and this is the commitment appropriations available to the country under the previous 2007-2013 programming period, the regional development and the finance ministries announced on Tuesday. Deputy regional development minister for EU funds Olga Letackova commented that thus the country failed to draw only less than EUR1bn (CZK26.34bn) of the available EU funds. She noted that the finalized documents for the EU funds drawing under the 19 operational programs, including applications for the payment of the last portion of EUR1.2bn, were sent to the EC for verification last week already. She estimated that the Cohesion Fund and European Regional Development Fund investments accounted for some 34% of government capital investments between 2007 and 2013 and contributed 2pps to the GDP growth. She went on saying that thanks to the EU funds some 4,526 km of down comers were built in sewerage systems and 147 wastewater treatment plans were modernized. EU funding targeted 90% of primary and 75% of secondary schools, public transport, enterprises and research. The cohesion policy and support for tens of thousands of projects helped create more than 94,000 new jobs, over 6,000 of them in the area of research. FinMin Andrej Babis said he sees the use of more than 96% of the allocated EU money as a success of the current cabinet as in the beginning of the cabinet’s term the EU money was spent at really low extent or were not spent at all where there were no projects. He underlined that thanks to the government efforts and the crisis management we have managed to avert the threat that the Czech Republic might lose its money. In the worst-case scenario, the original estimate of the amount of unspent money from the EU was up to CZK85bn. He added that in the future the government should prepare long-term plans for the use of EU funds so that the risk of failing to draw all the available money is averted.

Some EUR24bn are available to the Czech Republic under the 2014-2020 programing period. The slow drawing of EU funds in 2016 due to gradual ending of payments under the previous programming period, the high comparison base and the low preparedness of EU-funded projects under the new programming period were among the main reasons for the fixed investments contraction since Q2 2016, which resulted in GDP growth halving to 2.3% last year. The acceleration of EU funds drawing this year is seen to support stronger GDP growth of 2.6% (according to the finance ministry) or 2.8% (CNB). However, for the time being the EU funds drawing remains slow. In mid-March regional development minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) announced that the ministries have opened 454 calls for proposals in total value of CZK 477bn as of end-February, which means that altogether 78.3% of the total amount of EU funds available to the country under the 2014-2020 programming period are already available for drawing. Back then she also announced that the share of already contracted EU funds amounted to 16.4%, up from 14.2% as of end-2016, while CZK31.3bn or 5.1% have been already paid in to the beneficiaries.

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