Minister Mlinar in Brussels “European Commission acknowledges Slovenia’s progress in resolving IT-related problems and withdraws its warning of potential suspension of payments to Slovenia.”
Minister without portfolio responsible for development, strategic projects and cohesion Dr Angelika Mlinar has concluded her two-day visit to Brussels. Today was the first time the Minister met with European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira. Commissioner informed the Minister that the European Commission (EC) is withdrawing its warning of potential suspension of payments of European Cohesion Policy funding which is made from the EU budget into Slovenian budget. The EC announced its warning last July due to the e-MA IT-related problems. The Minister was happy to announce that “the European Commission acknowledged Slovenia’s progress in further developing the e-MA information system which is the result of the hard work of my staff and the staff of other ministries. The information system works and enables smooth implementation of European Cohesion Policy in Slovenia. We will continue to create the best user experience.”
In July 2019 the EC warned Slovenia of the potential suspension of payments under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of the EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 (OP 2014-2020) due to the information system e-MA-related problems identified by the Audit Authority – Budget Supervision Office (BSO) in April 2018 in its audit of the European Cohesion Policy implementation system. By the end of July 2019, GODC had resolved together with the ministries and the contractor the information system-related problems and managed to fulfil the majority of the recommendations. In September 2019 BSO informed the European Commission of the final report of an additional audit which concludes that all relevant improvements of the information system had been made and underlines that the conditions for suspension of payments are no longer fulfilled. The latter was confirmed today by the European Commission.
In their talks, the Minister and Commissioner also focused on the measures Slovenia is implementing with the aim of increasing the absorption of the funding available under the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). “Calls for proposals, projects and programmes have received EUR 2.65 billion which represents 86% of the available 2014-2020 EU funding (EU part). Payment requests in the amount of over EUR 1 billion sent to Brussels represent 34% of the available funding. Despite the fact that Slovenia can draw on the OP 2014-2020 funding in the amount of EUR 3.068 by the end of 2023, the implementation of the projects needs to be accelerated as Slovenia can send its payment requests to the EC only for project activities that have already been realised”, underlined the Minister.
Minister said that she is pleased with the fact that by the end of 2019 Slovenia has received 40% of the 2014-2020 funding available under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESF, ERDF, CF, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) which stands above the EU average (39%). “This proves that we are on the right track to realising the set objectives,” also said the Minister.
Minister and Commissioner also discussed the preparations for the new programming period 2021-2027. In the negotiations regarding the financial framework, Slovenia supports strong cohesion policy. They also touched upon the Just Transition Fund ensuring that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens fairly.
Minister Mlinar also met with the head of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the European Union Iztok Jarc, Ambassador of Slovenia to the Kingdom of Belgium Dr Rado Genori, as well as with the Slovenian members of the European Parliament. Yesterday she also met with the Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. Minister Mlinar said that the meetings which took place in the heart of the EU institutions were of great importance, “Strengthening ties with the representative of EU institutions, representatives of Slovenia in Brussels and the Slovenian stakeholders is very important. Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy will strive to continue with the established dialogue and deepen the relationships.”