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Minister Černač at the Zlati kamen Conference: ''We need good stories, good examples to follow''

Minister without portfolio, responsible for Development and Cohesion Policy Zvone Černač today gave opening remarks at the online conference Zlati kamen (Golden Stone). This year's conference took place amid intense preparations for the next programming period and drafting of the national recovery and resilience plan. The minister underlined that the outcome of MFF negotiations was ''best possible so far'', bringing extensive additional funding to the table to help the country get back on its feet after COVID-19 crisis.

Minister Černač said that after days of negotiations on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2021-2027 and temporary recovery instrument NextGenerationEU, EU leaders reached a historic agreement on 21 July 2020. ''The agreement brings extensive additional funding to the table to help our country boost post-COVID-19 recovery and foster investments in green and digital transition.''

According to the minister, Slovenian authorities are currently working full steam to manage current programming period programmes, prepare for the upcoming programming period 2021-2027 and draft the national recovery and resilience plan. The latter provides for EUR 1.6 billion in grants and a further EUR 3.6 billion in loans to Slovenia. Agreeing on intervention areas and deciding on breakdown of the funding available under the 2021-2027 programmes and the national recovery and resilience plan is an intensive and inclusive process involving representatives of both cohesion regions. ''Positions, opinions and views have been shared with councils, development councils, both cohesion regions, representatives of Economic and Social Council, NGOs, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in these past few months. Over 2,000 individuals participated in the debates held so far,'' explained the minister.

The national recovery and resilience plan, the basis for using the funding made available under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, will be officially submitted to the Commission for approval once the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation is legally in force. Member states’ recovery and resilience plans are expected to be adopted by end-June this year.

''This year and the years to come will be difficult, firstly because we will have to bounce back and boost economic and social recovery in the aftermath of the epidemic, and secondly because we will have to speed up the implementation of activities in all areas in order to be able to smartly spend the remaining available funding. Last year alone, Slovenia managed to spend a little under EUR 500 million in Cohesion funding, record high in the period 2014-2020. This year, we are up for an even bigger challenge – the plan is to spend around a billion euros,'' explained the minister.

Mr Černač also added that ''when we refer to European funding, we tend to oversimplify the term by saying that the funding is non-repayable. In fact, this money comes from the EU citizens, from taxes paid and through other channels. That is why I believe this money must get back to people.'' He also congratulated short-listed finalists who set a good example and the winners by saying that ''we need good stories, good examples.''

State Secretary mag. Monika Kirbiš Rojs also participated in the conference. She presented in detail the progress made in implementing the current programming period and briefed the participants on the state of preparation of the draft national recovery and resilience plan. State Secretary also participated in roundtable ''What should municipalities do to present good proposals and receive as much funding as possible?''. According to Ms Kirbiš Rojs, a total of some EUR 3 billion will be available to Slovenia in the programming period 2021-2027. ''We plan on channelling the funding through three operational programmes. The first one will cover the East, i.e. cohesion region Vzhodna Slovenija, the second one will be devoted to the West, i.e. cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija, whereas the third operational programme will set out how Cohesion Fund resources will be allocated across the country. Unlike in the current period with one programme, local communities will be better off with funding made available under three operational programmes. Additionally, municipalities will be able to look for funding opportunities through calls for proposals under the recovery and resilience plan which will be focused on supporting the resilience of the healthcare system and the long-term care system, mitigating the socio-economic impact of the epidemic, providing strategic investments in green and digital transition and creating a stimulating, enabling business environment,'' she concluded.