KDH: European Money Far From Free of Charge

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Legislator for Christian Democrats (KDH) Pavol Zajac (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 17 (TASR) – Money from EU funds are far from being free, said Christian Democrat/KDH MP Pavol Zajac at a press conference in Bratislava on Wednesday, when he criticised the commercial on EU funds called ‘Good News for Slovakia’, TASR learnt on the same day.

Dozens of representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises, mainly construction companies, were present at the press conference as well. Many of them haven’t received reimbursement from EU funds as yet.

Zajac said that the ‘Good News for Slovakia’ isn’t so good after all. “Firstly, I’d like to point to an analysis carried out by non-profit organisation INESS showing that Slovakia has received €17.4 billion from EU funds since 2004. But we also have to make financial contributions to the EU, while co-financing all projects eligible for EU money. Related expenses for the same period have thus amounted to €11.8 billion. Every euro from Brussels costs us 68 cents,” explained Zajac. According to him, there are 32 cents to the benefit of Slovakia, which cumulatively represents €5.6 billion since 2004.

Slovakia is also sometimes losing the so-called compensation money, which can’t be accorded if Brussels uncovers corruption or any other kind of fraud in the public procurement. This sum hovers at around €600 million.

Projects from EU funds are often carried by subcontracted parties – Slovak companies or self-employed persons, who don’t always see their work being reimbursed. “We’re talking about hundreds of millions of euros,” emphasised Zajac.

Ruling Smer-SD not only didn’t pass a law to protect subcontractors, which had been often submitted by KDH, but it also succeeded in creating ‘Lex Vahostav’ in order to protect affiliated oligarchs and sponsors, while covering their debts from the state budget. “If you want to get rich in Slovakia, you have to be Siroky,” said Zajac in reference to Juraj Siroky, head of Vahostav and former head of the Slovak Ice Hockey Association. Over the past four years the Government didn’t manage to establish any mechanism for checking the transparency of contracts concerning the EU funds.