Bratislava, September 19 (TASR) – Education, Science, Research and Sport Minister Martina Lubyova (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) on Monday (September 18) scrapped a controversial EU-fund call for proposals to support long-term strategic research and development, TASR learnt from the ministry on Tuesday.
The Education Ministry stated that no decision on granting the money in the aforementioned call has been issued and no contract on granting the subsidies has been signed.
“The rewording of the call will reflect the society’s demand for stricter criteria for the quality of submitted projects, and the need for greater openness and transparency of the procedures within the call,” said Lubyova, adding that the new call will be launched as soon as possible.
According to the ministry, the new rules will be based on the principles of an agreement signed between the representatives of research universities, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and members of the “Open Science” initiative. The new rules will include, for example, public panel discussions with the presence of professional evaluators and a new database of project evaluators based on stricter and more detailed criteria for the qualifications of evaluators. Moreover, the ministry will discuss the new call with European Commission (EC) representatives.
In order to ensure greater transparency within the Operational Programme Research and Innovation processes, the Education Ministry is to adopt effective measures that will be included in an Action Plan.
The ministry has been through several tumultuous months due to controversial allocations of EU funds towards research that cost Peter Plavcan (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) the Education Minister post and caused the coalition crisis.
Millions of euros from EU funds for research and innovation were allegedly provided to companies that had never done research before.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has suspended payments regarding four calls for proposals and enjoined the ministry to desist from concluding new contracts with funding recipients. The scandal has also caught the eye of the European Anti-Fraud Office and Slovakia’s National Crime Agency.