Brussels, 2 July 2003
EU Cohesion Policy in the Czech Republic: negotiations on the 2004-2006 programmes will start on 3 July in Prague
The European Commission today announced the launching of the first round of negotiations with the Czech Republic on future regional development programmes. Negotiations will start on 3 July in Prague with the Czech Republic. They will be dedicated to the Community Support Framework (CSF) and related Operational Programmes (OP) for the period 2004-2006. In a letter of 25 June, addressed to Pavel Neemec, Czech Minister for Regional Development, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy set out the Commission's position on how Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund should be used in the Czech Republic.
At beginning of March 2003, the Czech Republic submitted to the Commission its National Development Plan 2000-2006 and a first group of Operational Programmes and for Prague two Single Programming Documents. A second group of Operational Programmes was submitted in April.
In his letter Michel Barnier wrote: "The Plan represents a good basis for the negotiations that lie ahead. It is very important that the European programmes in the Czech Republic are a success. It therefore is all the more important that we reach an early agreement so that implementation on the ground can begin as soon as possible taking into account that eligibility of expenditure under these programmes starts on 1 January 2004".
€ 2.6 billion for growth and employment
The Czech Republic will be after Poland and Hungary the third largest recipient of Structural Funds and of the Cohesion Fund amongst the new Member States. The European Council in Copenhagen last December, committed to the Czech Republic for the period 2004-2006 almost € 1.7 billion under the EU Structural Funds and some € 0.9 billion under the Cohesion Fund.
The overall objective of the funds is to realise sustainable development based on competitiveness. Through five Operational Programmes, the Structural Funds will concentrate on business infrastructure and business development, transport and environment infrastructure, multifunctional agriculture and rural development, education, training and active labour market policies. Two separate Single Programming Documents for Prague will focus on urban regeneration, local and economic development and training measures. The Cohesion Fund will concentrate on transport infrastructures and environment.
The Czech Republic has 8 cohesion regions comprising 14 "krajs" (districts) Seven regions are eligible for Objective 1 assistance and one region, Prague, is eligible for Objective 2 and 3 as defined in Council regulation 1260/99 and confirmed in the Accession Treaty.
Aid from the Structural Funds in the Czech Republic will concentrate mainly on Objective 1 « Development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind ».
Aid for the region of Prague will concentrate on Objective 2 «Regions with structural problems whose socio-economic conversion is to be supported» and Objective 3 «Modernising systems of training and promoting employment».
In the case of Objective 1 funds, generally speaking, a Community Support Framework (CSF) describes the socio-economic context of the country or of the regions concerned, presents development priorities and objectives to be achieved, and envisages systems of financial management, monitoring, evaluation and control.
Then, Operational Programmes are adopted detailing the various priorities of a CSF at the level of regions or at the level of an individual development priority (Business Development and Infrastructure, Human Resources Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, etc.).
The Single Programming Documents for Prague will not be part of the CSF, but their actions need to be closely co-ordinated with the actions supported under the CSF.
During the negotiations, the Commission will seek to ensure a high level of coordination between the Cohesion Fund and Operational Programmes and Single Programming Documents.
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