EU Halts Payments to Slovakia worth Tens of Millions of Euros

(Photo by Landespolizei Wien)

Bratislava, July 20 (TASR) – Slovakia might see tens of millions not forthcoming from EU funds, according to data obtained by TASR from individual ministries responsible.

The EU has halted funding in five operational programmes (OPs) due to shortcomings in public procurements, and the ministries are currently holding talks with the European Commission.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry is a governing body for two halted OPs from the 2007-13 funding period – Cross Border Cooperation between Slovakia and the Czech Republic OP, and Bratislava Region OP. The EU Commission decided to halt payments in the first programme in September under previous agriculture minister Lubomir Jahnatek.

“It was due to findings from audits. Shortcomings were identified mainly in public procurements and justification of expenditures. The amount that hasn’t been paid by the European Commission so far reaches €12.17 million,” said ministry spokesman Vladimir Machalik.

According to him, the ministry has drawn up an action plan with measures to improve programme implementation and remove the shortcomings. This includes creating a new methodology for internal first-grade supervision and intensifying cooperation with relevant entities in public procurements.

Shortcomings were also found in the Bratislava Region OP, concerning payments of €11.4 million. These payments were halted in March, with the state – instead of Brussels – paying the money to the receivers. The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry has also boosted supervision of public procurements in this OP.

Health Ministry spokesperson Stanislava Luptakova reported that the halted payments in the Health Care OP amount to €13.34 million. This won’t affect the implementation of individual programmes, as they’ve already been concluded, however, she said. The shortcomings are stated in an annual report for 2015. The Agriculture Ministry sent its official attitude to the EU Commission in May and it’s now waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, the Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry, which governs the Research and Development OP, pointed out that the payments haven’t been halted, but the periods for payments have been interrupted. This will be lifted as soon as necessary measures are adopted. This OP hasn’t seen €9.05 million paid so far. The Commission pointed this out in March, and the ministry has already taken corrective measures.