European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said at a conference on the knowledge-based society project Minerva in Bratislava today that the shuffling of clerks at ministries is one of the main reasons why Slovakia is far behind in drawing EU funds.
Sefcovic referred to the high turnover of employees at ministries as the “erosion of administration capacity”” with the changes complicating co-operation with Slovakia, but most Central European countries are having the same problem.
Basically, those who worth with Structural Funds and who communicate with the European Commission are coming and going and so fast that it is a case of one step forward, two steps back, as negotiations restart and things are done in duplicate.
Sefcovic did say, though, that he appreciated the steps taken by the government to try and deal with the problem and so improve the rate of drawing.
Sefcovic’s criticism comes just a day after the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) has called on the Ministry of Education to step up the allocation of funds, otherwise the country could lose out on a large volume of funding as larger science and research projects take months of preparation.
The funds are there, but there are not enough applications, because the available cash has not yet been designated to project areas, and so the situation has hit a bottleneck. SAV claims that Slovakia is the seventh worst country in the EU when it comes to drawing EU funding, and it spends among the least on research, just 0.5% of the GDP.