After Slovakia, I paid a visit to the Czech Republic on 30 and 31 March. These two countries are experimenting difficulties in absorbing the remaining EU funds from 2007-2013 and are both involved in the Task Force on Better Implementation. After meeting the national authorities and visiting the beautiful and dynamic cities of Prague and Pilsen, I am convinced of the determination of the Czech Republic to ensure the success of Cohesion Policy.
The Czech Republic is part of the Task Force as the country is lagging behind in terms of absorption of EU funds. I met with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek, with Minister for Regional Development Karla Šlechtová and with Minister for Transport Dan Ťok to discuss concrete and realistic actions to take to speed up absorbtion for the remaining months of the 2007 - 2013 period.
We also discussed the state-of-play of the adoption process of the Czech Operational Programmes for 2014-2020. Although there is still some work to do, I am determined to see the first ones adopted soon after the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework in early May. An important positive step was already recently taken when the Czech Republic confirmed the progress in the implementation of the Civil Service Act and the adoption of a roadmap which should ensure that all implementing measures will have entered into force by July.
I was glad to see that the Czech Ministers and I were on the same page; we are determined to make Cohesion Policy a success in the Czech Republic. For 2014-2014, 22 billion euro from EU Cohesion Policy funds will be invested in the country.
The visit of the beautiful and dynamic cities of Prague and Pilsen, the European City of Culture 2015, as well as of the ELI — Extreme Light Infrastructure in the Dolní Břežany municipality in Central Bohemia convinced me that the Czech Republic has many assets to create opportunities for jobs and growth. And our policy will be a part of it.