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OECD appreciated the approach of Slovakia in fighting corruption in the disbursement of EU funds

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization (ODPMII) is making good progress in the fight against corruption in the implementation of European Union funds. This is evidenced by the key project of the Strategy of the SR for the Management of Risks Related to Fraud and Corruption in European Funds, which is the result of more than a year of intense international cooperation of the ÚPVII with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“The results of the project show the right way to fight corruption in the disbursement of European money. The Office is making systematic efforts to improve national anti-corruption practices. For this reason, we are already coordinating the gradual implementation of measures from the drafted national strategy and we will continue to do so in the preparation of the post-2020 programming period,” said Deputy Prime Minister Richard Raši.

Cooperation on the project between the ODPMII and the OECD began in May last year with the signing of the Declaration on Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption and Fraud between Richard Raši and the then Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Mari Kiviniemi. This activity is one of the points of the Action Plan for Strengthening Transparency and Simplification of the Disbursement of European Funds (“Action Plan”), which was drafted by the ODPMII and subsequently approved by the Government of the SR in September 2017. Since the summer of 2019 a team of OECD experts undertook five fact-finding missions and one expert workshop.

At today’s meeting, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Jeffrey Schlagenhauf praised our country’s existing approach, which is in line with European Union requirements. The main output of the international cooperation project is a national strategy coupled with an action plan to further improve fraud risk management processes for the disbursement of EU funds.

At the end of last year, the ODPMII carried out inspections of introduction and implementation of measures of the Action Plan at 6 ministries. Based on feedback from the ministries, civil society representatives, and beneficiaries, the Office of Deputy Prime Minister continuously reviews, improves and extends the processes and procedures introduced by the Action Plan. It also includes 12 additional measures that can further improve the entire ecosystem.

Among the most important measures is the need for more effective communication between the authorities responsible for the management of European Funds with law enforcement authorities, the establishment of special working group to share information between actors, continued adoption of codes of conduct, or the necessity to create an analytical environment that will examine in depth any discovered discrepancies, audit findings but also fraud.

Making the processes electronic has also helped to simplify these steps, as it is no longer a problem to make an application or any other submission electronically. “State authorities have also ceased to burden the applicants with requiring certificates they are able to obtain themselves within the the state administration. Positive changes have also occurred in some public procurement processes, in spite of this we still see room for further process simplification in this area,” added the Deputy Prime Minister.

The main partners of the SR Strategy for the Management of Risks Related to Fraud and Corruption in European Funds were, in addition to the Managing and Intermediate Bodies, also the Control Bodies in Slovakia (Public Procurement Office, Supreme Audit Office, Certification Body from the Ministry of Finance) and also the Government Office of the SR including the representation of OLAF in Slovakia.