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Through the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, the European Union invests billions of euros in job creation and a sustainable and healthy European economy and environment. Programmes to boost employment, education, social equity, competition, and agriculture rely on a EUR 450 billion budget for the programming period of 2014-20. These investments are critical for the development and growth of economies across EU Member States.

Given the size of these financial flows, it is of paramount importance that the right mechanisms are put in place to mitigate the risks of misappropriation of funds. Fraud and corruption divert taxpayers’ money away from investments intended to boost job creation and socio-economic development. Ultimately, this can poison public trust.

During the current programming period, the government of the Slovak Republic has faced threats to the integrity of the ESI funds. In response, it embraced a holistic approach, recognising the need to improve not only the detection and investigation of fraud and corruption, but also prevention through risk management and internal control.

As part of its work to help countries battle fraud and corruption, the OECD assisted the government of the Slovak Republic in modernising its risk management strategy for ESI Funds. Recognising the existing, robust normative and policy frameworks, the OECD focused on overcoming implementation challenges. The result is a plan of action that offers tailored guidance for both Managing Authorities, who play a critical role at the operational level, and centre of government bodies, who take the overall lead in this area. The strategy proposes concrete actions for refining risk assessments and mitigations, and it includes suggestions for greater precision of the risk assessment process through better use of data.

Apart from rigorous risk assessment, effectively handling fraud and corruption risks requires a robust risk management culture, so that assessments lead to better decision-making. As new risks emerge, the government will need to focus on further improving capacity and skills. The strategy presented here provides guidance on the necessary steps for doing so, along with insights on how to monitor and evaluate the entire risk management framework. Better co-ordination among managing authorities, central government, the Public Procurement Office, law enforcement and regulatory bodies can help to make further progress.

Preventing fraud and corruption in ESI Funds is a shared responsibility. The strategy outlines key actions to promote a common understanding of those responsibilities, with guidance for fulfilling them. The strategy draws from the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Integrity and related international standards, as well as insights from OECD member and partner countries. Its ultimate goal is to foster more effective, integrity-driven policies for better lives and outcomes for Slovak citizens.

Disclaimer

This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.

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The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

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Foreword