Czech Minister for Regional Development Kamil Jankovský (LIDEM) has identified six operational programs that are “at risk” of having EU funding cut off — Transport, Environment, Research and Development, Innovation, Integration, and the North-West Regional Operational Program (ROP).
Among these six, the Transport program, EU funding for which remains suspended, is most at risk, Jankovský said in a report presented to the government at its regular Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, which also notes the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has identified problems regarding programs receiving about Kč 6.3 billion worth of funds. The total amount of funds at risk is Kč 15.6 billion, the news server Aktualne.cz reports.
The Czech Transport Ministry could lose EU subsidies for its D8 highway project connecting Lovosice to Ústí nad Labem, the Luxembourg-based group had warned in a report that said while the Czech Ministry of Finance’s audits found flaws in only 1.85 percent of subsidies to the transport sector while EU auditors found problems in more than 40 percent of them.
In this regard, the ECA has criticized the Czech Republic for not putting in place control mechanisms that make it easier to discover possible abuses and irregularities in the drawing of EU funds — and said the Czech Republic should return €160 million already allocated to the D8 highway project. As for the North-West ROP, it emerged last month that officials there were deliberately using a different exchange rates for the euro in calls for bids.
In March, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas, saying the European Commission and the ECA consider the system of audits controlled by the Finance Ministry to be the weakest link of the Czech drawing of European funds, unveiled a plan to transfer Kč 32 billion from operational programs that face problems with drawing EU money to other programs that he said would better drive Czech economic growth.