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Minister Černač on the occasion of Slovenian Regional Days: Everyone should have an equal starting point

Minister for Development and EU Cohesion Policy Zvone Černač today gave opening remarks at the event Slovenian Regional Days. This year's symposium marked the 50th anniversary of regional policy in Slovenia. Minister Černač underlined that the anniversary was an important milestone offering an opportunity to reflect on past lessons and achievements in the area of regional development.

Anton Melik Geographical Institute of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, Slovenian Regional Development Fund and Association of Regional Development Agencies of Slovenia teamed up to host this year’s Slovenian Regional Days as an entirely virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year's edition of symposium honoured the 50th anniversary of regional policy in Slovenia.

Minister Černač said that the anniversary offered a perfect opportunity to reflect on what we had done right and on what had gone wrong in the past as regards regional development, and to openly discuss all that. At the same time, he highlighted that such stocktaking exercise would help the country set a new course and new goals. ''Today's symposium invites us to contemplate on why our country remains centralised despite a number of institutions promoting balanced regional development in Slovenia. What caused the decentralisation project to fail and what are the consequence of this failure for our people? We need to ask ourselves why the disparities and the development gap keep growing despite a billion of euros invested to bridge them,’’ said Mr Černač.  

According to the Minister, the root-causes of these issues should be looked for in several places. ''Firstly, we need to own up to the fact that the money had not been very wisely spent in the past,'' was straightforward the Minister. He also mentioned that investment in the transport infrastructure had been insufficient in the past years. ''Certain regions, for example, Koroška, Bela Krajina and part of Primorska are not on an equal footing vis-à-vis counterparts and record development gaps because of insufficient allocation of funds to transport,’’ he added.

''Before we finalise the documents for the programming period 2021-2027 and decide on how we will allocate the funding made available, we need to reflect on the past lessons and achievements, and to use this knowledge to design the right measures that will actually deliver on the ground and help us reduce development inequalities across the country. Balanced regional development will also ride on the national Recovery and Resilience Plan, not only because of the funding it provides, but also because of the reforms it sets out. If we wish to become a progressive Slovenia, we need to deliver change and reforms. In this context, it is important that everyone has an equal starting point, no matter what part of the country they are from,’’ concluded Minister Černač.

State Secretary mag. Monika Kirbiš Rojs also participated in the roundtable on EU Cohesion Policy in the programming period 2021-2027. Ms Kirbiš Rojs underlined that EU Cohesion Policy and the projects supported by cohesion funding importantly contribute to reducing development gaps, particularly the projects implemented by municipalities and other regional level players. ‘’EU funding is, along with the annual lump sum paid out to each Slovenian municipality, virtually the only development funding municipalities get to carry out their projects. In the long run, we should start thinking about new regional policy measures at the level of state budget and about system-wide change,’’ she said. ‘’Today, our country is centralized. The capital is overburdened, while certain rural areas are experiencing exodus on a daily basis. We need a strong local self-governance, regional policy and cohesion policy,’’ concluded State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs.