10th November 2016

Radio Praha: Czech Republic learns anti-corruption lessons over EU funds

The Czech Republic has not covered itself in glory in the past for its use and supervision of European funds. Programmes worth hundreds of millions of crowns were stopped in their tracks by Brussels following fraud fears and flawed supervision. Now though there are signs that the worst problems have been addressed, Radio Praha wrote.

European funds have made a massive impact on the Czech Republic and other Central European countries. Between 2007 and 2013 around 700 billion crowns (around 26 billion euros) were earmarked for the Czech Republic, more than for Hungary and Romania and around twice the funding being offered to Slovakia.

But the selection of the many projects and supervision soon turned out to be flawed. In the two years to 2015, around 6.5 percent of all structural fund projects had irregularities, putting the Czech up there with Slovakia as one of the worst performers in the European Union. Brussels was later forced at various stages to take the extreme step of freezing the further disbursement of various, funds - in some cases for years - as Prague tried to convince officials that the problems were being addressed.

There’s now a bit less cash in the pot for the Czech Republic for the 2014-2020 funding period, 600 billion crowns, but the country has apparently learned from the painful lessons from the recent funding past and upped its performance.

One of the fundamental steps to curb the risk of corruption appears to have been taken by Brussels itself, by redrawing the types of programmes for the ongoing funding period so that the role of regional authorities in selecting and supervising projects has all but disappeared. The former regional programmes were frequently a problem in the Czech Republic, Radio Praha writes. Read more (in English).

Details on the conference organized by Transparency International Czech Republic where these issues were discussed are available here (in Czech).

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic