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Minister Černač in videoconference of ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy: ''Europe needs swift action building on solidarity, flexibility and specific needs of individual member states''

Minister for Development, Strategic Projects and Cohesion Projects Zvonko Černač and State Secretary Monika Kirbiš Rojs attended an informal videoconference of EU Cohesion Ministers for a policy debate on the role of Cohesion Policy in the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The European Union is facing a series of unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all spheres of life. The damaging social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has put public finances across the EU under strain. EU Cohesion ministers met via videoconference to discuss the proposed amendments to the Cohesion Policy legislative package and the role of Cohesion Policy for Europe’s recovery. The ministers were unanimous that regional disparities could widen and undermine the functioning of the single market; which reinforces the role of Cohesion Policy in the EU’s recovery effort.

Slovenian Cohesion Minister Zvonko Černač underlined that rapid solidarity-based action that takes into consideration the specific needs of individual member states is needed to fight the COVID-19 crisis.

Slovenia welcomes the renewed proposal for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the new and ambitious instrument Next Generation EU. The latter is not only a plan towards recovery across the EU, it is also an important step towards a more united, greener and more digital Europe. Slovenia also welcomes the proposed REACT-EU instrument, measures that help safeguard and create jobs, provide the needed support to SMEs and build the health system preparedness and capacity to face health crises. ‘’We particularly welcome the possibility given to member states to decide on their own where and how to channel the available funding in order to best meet the region- and sector-specific needs’’, added minister Černač. 

As regards the initiative REACT-EU and the Just Transition Fund, Slovenia supports the proposal that the resources are channeled to the areas of greatest needs to respond to the actual needs on the ground and successfully tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. ‘’Slovenia particularly welcomes the additional funding provided under the REACT-EU package, this will enable our country to help the most affected economic sectors that are mostly export-oriented and face a number of issues in international markets as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. As regards the Just Transition Fund, we expect that the Commission will take into account the specific features of each member state and will allow for flexibility in identifying the regions eligible for co-financing from this fund and flexibility in selecting thematic areas to be funded by individual policies or funds,’’ continued Černač.

‘’We believe it is important to keep the long-term nature of Cohesion Policy investments which help achieve policy objectives of the EU for a better life of all EU citizens by reducing social, economic and territorial disparities between individual regions and member states. We support the flexibility of the 2021-2027 legislative proposal which extends the scope of support under specific objectives to national healthcare systems, culture and tourism; but above all, we welcome the increased funding for sector-specific infrastructure,’’ underlined minister Černač. 

Slovenia supports additional funding to the 2021-2027 long-term budget under the new recovery instrument Next Generation EU. In this context, Slovenia is pleased that additional funding will also be earmarked for Cohesion Policy and rural development programmes, which the country has been advocating throughout the negotiations on the next long-term budget.

Slovenia supports efforts to agree on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the new instrument Next Generation EU as soon as possible. 

In terms of national allocation criteria, Slovenian minister said that the method should be based on the relative level of development of each member state or region and explained that Slovenia agreed in principle with the criteria based on latest statistical data available, which would allow member states to adjust internal allocations in case of potential delayed impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Minister Černač nevertheless warned that it was a challenging task for the country to strike a balance between the given flexibility to cover the immediate needs and the long-term objective of Cohesion Policy when deciding on the scope of support in the context of Cohesion Policy planning and implementation.  

Minister Černač wrapped up by underlining that Slovenia supported the proposed funding increase for public health and research. ‘’This will help us fight the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact more effectively. We also need to foster research and vaccine development, strengthen our healthcare systems and improve access to medicines’’. He concluded that strengthening investment in RDI was of utmost importance to help drive the green transition and digital transformation of the EU. 

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