One-euro coins on the flag of the European Union – illustrative photo.
Prague – The Czech Republic should speed up the comparison of living standards in individual regions. In the future, it will no longer be possible to rely only on drawing from European subsidies, which is why, according to the Minister for Local Development Ivan Bartoš (Piráti), it is important to teach municipalities to involve more private money in projects. The minister said this in an interview with ČTK and added that the current subsidies need to be targeted.
Last year, the Czech Republic had the policy of cohesion, equalization of economic and social differences between individual countries and regions of the EU, as one of the goals of its EU presidency. Bartoš stated that this is one of the fundamental benefits that EU citizens have. “It represents a third of the EU budget,” he pointed out.
In the Integrated Regional Operational Program (IROP) administered by the MMR, around 160 billion crowns are distributed in the last ending subsidy period 2014 to 2020 and approximately 117 billion crowns in the new period 2021 to 2027. The money is used for the development of regions in the Czech Republic, which according to the EU are divided into less developed regions (such as Ústí, Karlovy Vary, Zlín and Moravian-Silesian regions), transition regions (for example, Central Bohemia, Pilsen and Vysočina) and Prague.
The rating of domestic regions is gradually improving. “When you develop regions for several years, you expect that over time the gap between them will begin to close,” said Bartoš. Over time, European subsidies will change direction to other programs, and so many funds may no longer come from the Union to support the regions. “Therefore, it is necessary to speed up the equalization of the quality of life in individual regions, and it is already necessary to think about the involvement of private money, for example the cooperation of municipalities with developers,” Bartoš added.
Cooperation with, for example, cooperation with the National Development Bank or the European Investment Bank. “We have to prepare so that the Czech Republic is not on subsidized European steroids. Now it is 40 percent of investments from European money. Perhaps we will soon invest in two homes for the elderly from another source. It should be the beginning of a longer-term trend,” said Bartoš.
According to Bartoš, money should not go only to the regional level, but directly to districts and cities. We must be able to say, this is a socially disadvantaged area and target it, the minister pointed out. He wants to target municipalities with a size of three to ten thousand inhabitants. Among other things, the state is trying to help them with the preparation of projects, for which the MMR wants to release 1.6 billion crowns. “From the logic of the matter, preparation is expensive for smaller municipalities and they cannot afford to spend even a tenth of the budget on one building,” stated Bartoš.
Bartoš's wish at the end of the election period is to build an additional ten thousand apartments in the Czech Republic per year. Support for the construction of rental housing, amendments to the Building Act and the upcoming Act on Support in Housing can help. Bartoš pointed out that the housing crisis affects almost 1.3 million people at risk of housing shortage the most. Therefore, contact points for housing in municipalities will also be essential, which will help people prevent the loss of housing. We don't want to turn a blind eye to it, or just pretend it's a solution, in which case there could be far more people like that, he said.