Slovakia has absorbed 10.35% of EU funds under the 2014-2020 EU budget framework and the 11 operational programs (OPs) as of end-February, up from 9.96% as of end-January, according to the figures published by the finance ministry on Wednesday. In absolute terms, as of end-February the country has absorbed a total of EUR1,441.5m commitment appropriations of the total EUR13.933bn commitment appropriations available to the country under the 2014-2020 programming period, up from EUR1,388.1m at end-January. The most or EUR704.2m (up from EUR695.8m as of end-January) has already been drawn under OP Integrated Infrastructure (EUR3.949bn is allocated to the program).
The ministry said that by end-2018, the country has to apply to the EC for at least EUR780.6m in fresh EU funds in line with the N+3 rule as otherwise part of the funds would be automatically de-committed by the EC if it has not been used or if no payment application has been received by the end of the third year following that of the budgetary commitment. The top three programs in terms of absolute amounts that must be caught up in the last 10 months of this year include Environment (EUR276.8m), Research and Innovation (EUR219.7m) and the Integrated Regional OP (EUR 69.3m), the ministry said.
Recall that according to a report published on the website of deputy PM for informatization and investments Peter Pellegrini (leftist senior ruling party Smer), Slovakia has used EUR1.78bn in EU structural funds under the 2014-2020 programming period by end-January. The total allocation in all programs is EUR15.49bn. Some EUR32.3m was absorbed in the first month of 2018. This means the EU funds absorption rate increased by 0.21pps m/m to 11.49% at end-January. The report also showed that the country has performed better in terms of contracting EU funds. As of end-January, the contracted amount was EUR5.47bn or 35.32% of the available allocation.
Currently, the country is implementing an action plan to make the EU funds drawing more transparent and simple. The plan comprises 38 measures, 22 of which had been met by end-2017. Faster EU funds absorption may be expected to boost investments this year, thus also GDP growth, which will also benefit from stronger private investments (in the Jaguar’s car plant in Nitra), as well as from higher exports when it becomes operational.