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Slovak Premier Urges Faster Aid Use as EU Budget Debate Heats Up

  • East EU member has spent 11 percent of 2014-2020 aid budget
  • Slovakia ready to accept less aid in exchange for flexibility
Robert Fico

Robert Fico

Photographer: Balazs Mohai/Bloomberg

Slovakia should relax its public-procurement rules to speed up the absorption of European Union aid funds to gain leverage in the intensifying debate over whether the bloc should reduce financing for its less developed members, Prime Minister Robert Fico said.

Slovakia has so far spent 11 percent of the 19.6 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in EU aid -- including national co-financing -- that it’s been designated in the bloc’s 2014-2020 budget. That’s the third-lowest share among the EU’s ex-communist members after Romania and Croatia. While the country of 5.4 million has earmarked 51 percent of the funds, red tape is stretching procurement for projects to as long as 600 days, triple that needed in some other members, Fico said.