Slovakia: local authorities struggle to access European funds dedicated to Ukrainian refugees

Slovakia: local authorities struggle to access European funds dedicated to Ukrainian refugees

Local authorities implementing aid measures for Ukrainian refugees have still not received money from European funds intended to support member states.

The European Commission adopted the CARE (Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe) program in March, which aims to enable Member States to rapidly mobilize resources available under EU regional policy to help hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The proposal provided additional flexibility to fund a wide range of support measures for refugees, from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). ).

The Ministry of Regional Development, which coordinates EU funds in Slovakia, told EURACTIV Slovakia that the government has found a total of more than half a billion euros in resources available for this purpose.

The problem, however, is that the local authorities implementing measures to help Ukrainian refugees have not yet received money from European funds. Therefore, they continue to finance activities from public collections, their own budgets and the resources of various non-profit organizations.

“Unfortunately, we have received nothing from the state so far, no contribution”, Nitra city spokesperson Tomáš Holúbek told EURACTIV Slovakia. “We have the necessary funds to last the summer, but we don’t know what will happen afterwards. The situation can get worse”explains Mr. Holúbek.

Other municipalities are experiencing similar situations.

“The euphoria of solidarity has been replaced by a reality where everything is on our shoulders, which is what we expected”Michal Kaliňák, central director of the office of the Association of Towns and Municipalities of Slovakia (ZMOS), told EURACTIV Slovakia.

The Ministry of Regional Development said it was still communicating with the European Commission on the adjustment of operational programs.

“A new special priority axis will be created to support measures related to the migration wave. In addition to the allocated amount of half a billion euros, we see the possibility of freeing up additional resources in the operational programmes”replied the ministry.

According to Interior Ministry data, almost 80,000 people from Ukraine applied for temporary refuge in Slovakia at the end of June. However, the daily number of requests has fallen considerably since the peak recorded in mid-March.

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