Slovakia may better absorb EU funds with strategic planning

The European Commission views as obstacles preventing smooth absorption of European Structural and Investment Funds in Slovakia the lack of capacity and the absence of strategic planning, along with administrative problems. As a result, in the current programming period 2014-2020, Slovakia has already lost EUR120m in EU funding and redistribution of resources to final beneficiaries remains at a low level. In addition, sub-optimal preparation of projects funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds has led to delayed investments and short deadlines for procurement procedures, thereby increasing the risk of irregularities. According to the Commission, absorption of EU funds in the next programming period 2021 to 2027 could be helped if some of the shortcomings were addressed identified in the recommendations.

According to finance ministry’s data, Slovakia has absorbed 22.32% of EU funds under the 2014-2020 EU budget framework and the 11 operational programs (OPs) as of end-May, up from 21.63% as of end-April. In absolute terms, as of end-May the country has absorbed a total of EUR3.077bn in commitment appropriations of the total EUR13,906.1m commitment appropriations available to the country under the 2014-2020 programming period, up from EUR3.01bn as of end-April. The most or EUR1.322bn (up from 1.3bn as of end-April) has already been drawn under OP Integrated Infrastructure or about a third of the EUR3.949bn allocated to the program. 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-May, it is necessary to submit payments applications of at least EUR679.72m, down from EUR718.87m as of end of April, the ministry said. It also noted that as of end-May this milestone has been fulfilled by four operational programs, namely Integrated Infrastructure, Human Resources, Technical Assistance and INTERACT III.

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