Czech officials are gearing up for negotiations with European Commission representatives on how much money the Czech Republic may draw from EU regional development funds in 2021-2027 and what the funds may be used for. The talks are due to begin in a fortnight’s time and the Czech Republic is the first EU member state to undergo them.
In view of Brexit, there will be less finances available for all in the next seven-year-term and competition among EU members is expected to be tough. According to the financial daily Hospodarské noviny the Czech Republic should be able to draw just over 20 billion euros over that period and the Czech government has prepared a framework plan reflecting the country’s long-term priorities.
The money is to be used to promote a more competitive economy based on greater added value, support research and innovation, digitalization, lower the country’s dependence on foreign investors, extend the infrastructure and improve the quality of life in the regions. Other priorities are better education and affordable social housing.
Between 2007 and 2017 the Czech Republic had over 26 billion euros at its disposal from EU structural funds, from which it realized more than 70 thousand projects. The paper notes that more than half of all projects in the public sector – such as new schools and infrastructure – are covered from EU funds. For instance a full 80 percent of the cost of the reconstruction of the D1 highway from Prague to Brno is covered by EU structural funds.
In the next seven year term (2021 -2027) the country will get 13 percent less finances than have been available in the past and it will have a year less in which to submit projects to the EC. Given that the aim of EU structural funds is to reduce regional disparities, with Europe's poorer regions receiving most of the support, many Czech regions will no longer be eligible for that support.
In the past the country has been criticized for mismanagement and inept usage of funding for regional projects. Now it will have to be better prepared than ever before to defend not only its share of the money but its priorities in spending.