Slovakia has absorbed 23.93% of EU funds under the 2014-2020 EU budget framework and the 11 operational programmes (OPs) as of end-July, up from 22.69% as of end-June, according to the figures published by the finance ministry. In absolute terms, as of end-July the country has absorbed a total of EUR3.297bn in commitment appropriations of the total EUR13,906.1m commitment appropriations available to the country under the 2014-2020 programming period, up from EUR3.128bn as of end-June. The most or EUR1.378bn (up from 1.322bn at end-June) has already been drawn under OP Integrated Infrastructure or about a third of the EUR3.949bn allocated to the programme.
The ministry also said that by end-2019, the country has to apply to the EC for at least EUR1.41bn 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. Based on status of the declared expenditure as of end-June, it is necessary to submit payments applications of at least EUR679.72m (same as at the end of May and as of end-June, but down from EUR718.87m as of end of April), the ministry said. It also noted that as of end-July this milestone has been fulfilled by four operational programs, namely Integrated Infrastructure, Human Resources, Technical Assistance and INTERACT III.
Recall that the Office of the deputy PM for investments and informatization has previously informed that as of end-June Slovakia had drawn at the national level EUR3.82bn from all the funds in the current programming period, which is 24.92% of the total allocation to the country. As of late June the steering authorities made available in valid calls for potential applicants of a non-refundable financial contribution EUR15.77bn, which is 103.05% of the total allocation. In H1, funds were contracted for EUR9.23bn, representing 60.17% of the total allocation. The office has also previously said that the absorption of EU funds in the 2014-2020 programming period should reach more than EUR5bn by the end of this year, which would represent 33% of the total allocation of EUR15.345bn. The EU funds absorption is problematic at the education ministry with the expected de-commitment under the operational program Research and Innovation being about EUR80mn. Slovakia might lose a further EUR40m within the Integrated Regional Operational Program, managed by the agriculture ministry. At the same time, unaffiliated MP Remisova, former deputy chairperson of main opposition party SaS, claimed that the country lost EUR120m in the past year. She suggests that every EU fund call and project over EUR1m should also be evaluated from the point of view of value for money (which would immensely lengthen the process, in our view). She also wants to remove as far as possible subjective criteria from project evaluation and enforce simplification of procedures and reduction of red tape, especially for small applicants.