Study presents breakdown of Czech recipients of EU funding

Třinecké železárny, photo: Public Domain

The vast majority of the European Union funds drawn by the Czech Republic have gone to state projects in areas such as transport, education and science. Of private companies, steel producer Třinecké železárny has benefited the most, says financial daily Hospodářské noviny in the first report of its kind, which was published on Wednesday.

Třinecké železárny,  photo: Public Domain
Between the start of 2007 and the end of 2013 the Czech Republic drew over CZK 750 billion from European Union funds. Of that figure, Třinecké železárny alone accessed close to CZK 2.1 billion.

The Moravian steel maker this year plans to apply for another CZK 800 million from the Brussels coffers, a spokesperson told Hospodářské noviny.

In collaboration with UK-based Czech economist Ondřej Kokeš the newspaper has just produced an unprecedented study breaking down all successful domestic applications for funding so as to map the destination of moneys drawn from the EU.

The biggest beneficiary has been the Czech state, swallowing up CZK 600 billion – or 80 percent – of the total sum that has flowed this way.

Of that amount, almost CZK 250 billion has gone into the state administration. This is followed by transport, on CZK 200 billion. Of that amount, CZK 90 billion has gone on modernising rail routes and CZK 80 billion on roads, Hospodářské noviny reported.

When it comes to individual ministries, Labour and Social Affairs has done best. Some CZK 10 billion of its EU money was spent on a single project focused on worker requalification.

Indeed, with its CZK 2.1 billion Třinecké železárny comes a long way down the overall league table of recipients, placing in the low 40s.

The steel maker has used the EU money to make its production more environmentally friendly. Thanks to the subsidies several key investments were made into dedusting the plant’s largest and most dust intensive lines, a spokesperson told Hospodářské noviny.

Some CZK 47 billion of the total CZK 750 has been funnelled into university education; CZK 18 billion into science and research; and CZK 17 billion into health care.

Of individual research institutions, the greatest beneficiary of Brussels funding has been the Institute of Physics at the Czech Academy of Sciences. It received nearly CZK 5 billion for the unique ELI laser centre.

Brno’s Masaryk University achieved the best “grade” in its field, taking in over CZK 4 billion toward the CEITEC research institute.

Even successful applicants say the process of accessing EU money has been overly complicated, Hospodářské noviny said.

However, the Ministry for Regional Development says such processes have become simpler since the start of the current seven-year EU budget period.

In any event the Czech Republic has done well out of the EU financially. Since it joined the bloc in 2004 it has put some CZK 430 billion into its coffers but drawn out more than twice that amount.