Czech Republic at risk of losing €3.9bn in EU funds

By bne IntelliNews July 17, 2015

bne IntelliNews -

 

The Czech Republic's poor track record on accessing EU funding sees the country at risk of losing out on CZK105bn (€3.9bn) in funds for the 2007-13 programme, the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) said in a report on July 16. 

The Czech Republic needs to draw about CZK215bn in this year, as the EU structural funding programme for 2007-13 winds down. The outstanding sum equals 30% of the funds earmarked for the country for the entire seven-year programming period, the NKU noted. This is the last year the country can claim funds from the programming period. 

Under the audit office's worst-case scenario, Prague would fail to reclaim as much as CZK85.1bn this year. Added to previous problems, that could see the Czechs miss out on a total of CZK105bn throughout the 2007-13 programme. Last year, the Czech Republic failed to draw CZK8.5bn; 2013 saw it collect CZK11.4bn less than it paid out to projects. 

The Czech Republic ranks among the slowest EU countries in drawing EU funds. The main reasons for that are delays caused by long approval procedures and frequent changes in rules and methodology, the auditors note. 

A recent scandal involving a tender for the development of a system to monitor the country's EU funds in the new 2014-2020 budgetary period will do little to help the country improve its performance in the coing years. In June the European Commission confirmed the results of an audit by the Czech finance ministry that found a number of flaws in the tender. 

Officials say that the problems are blocking the drawing of funds in the new window. Prague also risks ending up stuck with another large bill for a dubious tender; seven years ago Brussels refused to pay for the 2007-13 monitoring system over similar lapses. 

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