Press Advisories

4. 3. 2009 14:29

Official visit of the European Commissioner Danuta Hübner to Czech Republic

Commissioner Hübner highlights Commission support for competitiveness and jobs in response to crisis.

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will be in the Czech Republic on 5-6 March to visit EU-backed projects in the Northeast Region and Central Bohemia, as well as to participate in the European Summit of Regions and Cities in Prague. During her visit, the Commissioner will highlight the package of measures taken by the European Commission to help regional authorities respond to the financial crisis.

Ahead of her visit, Commissioner Hübner stated: "As in the rest of Europe, the Czech Republic is feeling the effects of the global economic and financial crisis, especially in the regions. The European Commission is working closely with the Czech authorities to ensure that they make the most of the EU structural and cohesion funds, in order to boost competitiveness and create jobs. In addition to reimbursing agreed project costs, the Commission will advance more than €1 billion in Cohesion Policy grants to support investment in the country in 2009; this is on top of the €1.5 billion in advances that the Commission has already provided in the past two years.”

Exceptional measures in response to the crisis

The additional advances are a central feature of the Commission's European Economic Recovery Plan. Other measures include immediate funding for major projects, increased flexibility and simplification in the management of the structural funds, and an extension of the deadline for using remaining money allocated under the previous 2000-2006 budgetary period.

On 5 March, Commissioner Hübner will visit the Northeast region where she will meet the three newly elected Hejtman (governors): Radko Martínek (province of Pardubice), Lubomir Franc (Hradec Králové) and Stanislav Eichler (Liberec). In Česká Třebová, she will get an overview of the city's plans to modernise its transport terminal for trains, bus and bicycles. The EU is contributing €5.8 million for this project. In Litomyšl, she will visit the city's castle, which has been renovated with EU funding. Plans are also underway to develop the surrounding site into a recreation area containing a museum, theatre and venue for music festivals.

These initiatives are among the first 120 projects already selected by the region to be funded under the Cohesion Policy for the 2007-2013 budgetary period. In total, the Northeast will benefit from €656 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Northeast programme, tailor-made to the needs of the region, will help develop transport infrastructure, reduce disparities between urban and rural areas, increase the share of tourism in the economy and boost cooperation between businesses and education institutions.

On 6 March, Commissioner Hübner will deliver a keynote address at the European Summit of Regions and Cities on the first conclusions of the consultation on the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion (see separate release) before continuing her visit to the Central Bohemian region. She will be welcomed by the governor of the region, David Rath and other regional representatives.

The Commissioner will see the castle of Dobříš, one of the most important cultural sites in the region, which has benefited from €124.000 in support from the EU for new facilities. In Kladno, the Commissioner will visit the hospital which will receive €1.6 million in EU funding towards the purchase of specialised magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, which provides detailed images without the need for X-rays.

107 projects have so far been selected by the authorities for support under the new ERDF programme for the region, which has been allocated €559 million. Top priorities for this investment include plans to modernise the region's transport infrastructure, develop its tourism potential and to strengthen the role of urban centres as centres for growth.

Background

The main aim of the EU's Cohesion Policy in the Czech Republic is to reduce disparities between regions undergoing rapid development (such as Prague) and poorer regions which benefit from more support. The Northeast and Central Bohemia regions are covered by the policy's "Convergence Objective”, which provides more funding for regions where GDP per inhabitant is less than 75% of the Community average. Together, the two regions will receive more than €1.2 billion in ERDF investment in 2007-2013.

The Czech Republic as a whole has been allocated almost €30 billion in 2007-2013 – the highest aid intensity per capita in the EU. It will receive €13.7 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), €8.8 billion from the Cohesion Fund, €3.8 billion from the European Social Fund (ESF), €2.8 billion from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and € 400 million for territorial cooperation.

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