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R. Raši: Memorandum brings a fundamental change in the way EU funds are allocated to local governments

The Memorandum on Cooperation between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization and key local government representatives is supposed to help Slovak towns, municipalities and higher territorial units to significantly increase spending European funds in the regions during the upcoming programming period 2021-2027. Supported projects will be decided by the Partnership Councils in regions and the state will lend a helping hand in this process.

The Memorandum on Cooperation, signed today by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Informatization with key partners of local governments – Association of Towns and Municipalities of Slovakia, Union of Towns of Slovakia, and Association of Self-Governing Regions SK 8 is introducing fundamental change in the way EU funds are allocated to Slovak towns, municipalities and higher territorial units (HTU) during the upcoming programming period 2021 -2027.

“I welcome the signing of the memorandum between our office and the key local government representatives. Together we were looking for an optimal model for simplifying the whole system of EU funds spending for Slovak towns, municipalities and higher territorial units in the next programming period. I believe that the benefits of the European funds will be even more felt by citizens in the regions,” says Deputy Prime Minister Richard Raši.

Support for projects to be submitted by municipalities, towns and territorial units will no longer be decided by the managing authorities at the ministries, but directly by representatives of local government and socio-economic partners. They will be associated in the so-called Partnership Councils.

“In practice, it will work as follows: for example, there are two schools in the region, one being a catchment school with one thousand pupils and the other one only having half the number of pupils, but being able to pay for a better project and have received the support. After the new arrangement, the local governments will decide what needs to be supported and they will also assume responsibility for it,” explained R. Raši.

As a consequence, these representatives will be able to directly decide which project will be supported in the regions, based on integrated territorial strategies. These will include a list of project intentions. In order to spend EU resources efficiently, the memorandum envisages the establishment of Partnership Councils by the end of March 2020 and the preparation of integrated territorial strategies by the end of this year.

Individual ministries will ensure that the whole process of preparing and implementing integrated territorial strategies is in line with both European and national legislation. One of the key tasks of the state in this process will also include technical support in the preparation of the projects. This means that applicants will no longer have to search for expensive companies to prepare projects for them, but local authorities will receive sufficient funding to be able to provide erudite help to the applicants with project preparation.

“Our experience from previous programming periods suggests that often good ideas failed because due to insufficient expertise in the regions. That is also why it is important for us to provide experts in this new process who will help prepare projects,” Raši adds.

Technical assistance in the form of experts will be created at the very beginning of the process itself, i.e. during the preparatory phase of the strategies themselves, thus ensuring better coordination so that EU resources for local and regional authorities can be spent as soon as possible in the new programming period.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the SR for Investment and Informatization perceives the signing of the Memorandum as a further step in supporting the spending of European funds in the regions. The project of establishment of Information and Advisory Centres, which operate in seven self-governing regions of Slovakia, proved to be very successful. Over three years the centres provided 4 500 consultations. At the same time, up to 70% of the applications / projects with which twenty of staff members of the centres helped the applicants were also supported.