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Minister Černač: ''We can only build a more integrated Europe by improving the systems that must serve EU citizens’’

Minister without portfolio, responsible for Strategic Projects and Cohesion Zvone Černač has participated in a high-level videoconference on Implementation and strategic orientations of future Cohesion Policy instruments. The videoconference was held under the auspices of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Representatives of EU Member States, European Commission, Council of Regions, European Economic and Social Committee and European Parliament as well as Minister-Presidents of the German State of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony participated in the videoconference call to share views on the implementation of future Cohesion Policy instruments and discuss ways to work together for effective crisis management and towards innovative and green economic transition in regions. 

Slovenia and other Member States are dealing with the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, making a concerted effort to mitigate its impacts. At the same time, the country is entering the final stage of Cohesion Policy implementation and is full steam ahead in preparation for the upcoming multiannual financial framework 2021-2027. Another important strand of national authorities’ work is the drawing up of recovery and resilience plans as bases for the country to be able to use the funding made available by the EU under the recovery package. The resources will, as a priority, be earmarked for investment and structural reforms underlying long-term future-proof recovery, boosting resilience and supporting green and digital transition.    

In his delivery, Minister Zvone Černač underlined the importance of a rapid coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirmed the need to make the implementation of Cohesion Policy as flexible as possible. ‘’Slovenia recognizes the need for a flexible implementation system. We need to take on board that recovery and investment needs differ considerably between Member States. National authorities know best where help is most needed, that is why we believe that bureaucracy should not have the final say on the areas of intervention to support Member States’ efforts to stimulate recovery and growth.’’

‘’The necessary simplifications to the implementation system should be reflected in increased result-orientation. Thus, investments should be smartly planned, having added value for EU citizens,’’ stressed the minister and added that while planning Cohesion Policy funding authorities had to fully understand that this in fact involved money coming from all EU citizens. ‘’We need to give this funding back to EU citizens through Cohesion Policy mechanisms – without red tape and unnecessary formal barriers,’’ he stressed.    

The funding will be earmarked in line with the strategic priorities of the Union (EU Green Deal, European Pillar of Social Rights, Digital Agenda for Europe), documents of the European Semester and national strategic documents. Priority areas receiving special attention in the preparation of the recovery plan for Slovenia include healthcare infrastructure (renovation and new construction), long-term care, safeguarding and creation of jobs, green transition, environmental and transport infrastructure and digitization. 

Another topic on the videoconference agenda was the funding made available under the REACT-EU instrument which will be used to revive labour markets (employment subsidies, short-time work schemes, youth employment), support health care systems and provide working capital and investment support for small and medium-sized enterprises. The recovery process in each Member State will also be supported with the funding made available under the Just Transition Fund; in this context, Slovenia plans to expand the scope and include three more regions that will be eligible for support (Soča River region, Zgronja Gorenjska region and Mežiška dolina valley).