12. 05. 2017 13:09
The European Union will support the development of a civil society in Slovakia with the sum of €15 million, stated Prime Minister Robert Fico on Thursday. As he added, he expects non-governmental organisations to come up with projects that will help the current Government to combat corruption. According to Robert Fico, it is the first such financial package in the history of Slovakia designed for NGOs. "I believe that non-governmental and non-profit organisations will submit projects for fighting corruption ... that will enable us to improve and streamline decision-making processes and at the same time they will enable the widest possible segment of the public to participate in these processes," he added.
According to the prime minister, worries that the tertiary sector, which basically criticises the state, will be in a situation of conflict of interest if it receives funds from the state are irrelevant. "It's not in conflict, because it has to co-finance its project with five percent. Moreover, the sum of money concerned, ranging from €100,000 to €400,000 [per project], is fully covered by EU funds. It has nothing to do with the state," said Fico.
Meanwhile, an expert conference aimed at challenges, problems and solutions related to EU funds was held in Parliament on Thursday. Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini informed that calls for drawing EU funds worth €10.8 billion had been published by the end of April, making up 70 percent of the total sum of EU funds available to Slovakia. "Concerning the actual drawing of funds, Slovakia had drawn €966 million from all funds at the national level by April 28, making up 6.2 percent of the total allocation," said Pellegrini. As he claimed, Slovakia has been meeting its commitments concerning rules for drawing funds for 2017.
Opposition MPs and experts warn against several problems related to EU funds. "The first problem is in the poor quality and bad implementation of projects and calls, either on the side of the state, or on the applicants' side. There were also calls where corruption and clientelism have occurred," said opposition MP Veronika Remišová. She also named the meaningfulness of projects and excessive bureaucracy as other problems. "We see that EU funds under the same EU rules can be managed in a simpler way abroad," stated Remišová.
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini admitted that not everything is perfect; however, the state is striving to eliminate these problems. He pointed to the fact that operational programmes are governed by binding plans of contracting and drawing funds this year.