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Minister Černač and State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs in the Savinjska region

As part of the Government visit to the Savinjska region, Minister for Development and EU Cohesion Policy Zvone Černač visited the municipalities Podčetrtek, Nazarje and Žalec. State Secretary mag. Monika Kirbiš Rojs also attended the visit to the Savinjska region and visited the municipalities Rogaška Slatina and Zreče.

Minister Černač attended a working consultation of the Government in Podčetrtek and commented on the importance of additional funding under the Just Transition Fund for the Savinjsko-Šaleška region saying that ‘the abandonment of coal mining brings restructuring of the region. The funding under the Just Transition Fund will be used to ensure people in the region won’t lose their jobs and thus stay in the region.’

After the working consultation, Minister Zvone Černač met with Peter Misja, the mayor of Podčetrtek, and the president of the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia and his colleagues. They discussed the implementation of the Agreement on the Development of Regions mechanism in the current and future financial perspective 2021-2027. The Minister said that EU funding is reserved for well-prepared projects planned by municipalities under this mechanism, however, the funding will be approved only for the projects that can actually be closed by the end of the programming period, namely by the end of 2023. ‘The mechanism that will be simplified will also be implemented in the new financial perspective. In the current financial perspective, the mechanism turned out to be too complicated thus hindering implementation and slowing down EU funds absorption,’ the Minister underlined.

At the meeting, representatives of the municipality Podčetrtek presented numerous achievements and ambitious plans for the future. In Virštanj, they presented the project Centre for the Promotion of Wine, Culture and Tourism which was renovated with the help of EU funds under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The Centre is a valuable contribution to the tourist offer as it supports cooperation of key stakeholders in the field of tourism, culture and viticulture. The investment gave the municipality a modern wine cellar and a multi-purpose venue.

Minister Černač continued his regional visit in the company Podkrižnik d. o. o. in the municipality Nazarje. The CEO of the company, Iztok Podkrižnik, presented the results of investing in digital transformation of the company that was made possible with the help of EU funds under the European Regional Development Fund. Minister Černač said: ‘We are boosting the economy by investing EU funds in research and development, innovation and digital transformation. This potential was recognised and utilised by the company Podkrižnik d. o. o which is one of the leading companies in the field of propulsion technology in Europe. Through their efforts to raise added value, enhance digital competencies of their employees and introduce a digital culture, they also set an example and inspire companies in the area and prove that EU funds serve their purpose. Digital transformation of the economy and the public sector will continue to be one of the key areas of investment. We will allocate the funding available under European Cohesion Policy and the funding available under the Recovery and Resilience Facility for the digital transformation objective.’

State Secretary mag. Monika Kirbiš Rojs met with the mayor of Rogaška Slatina, mag. Branko Kidrič. They discussed the programming of European Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027: ‘Over the next months we will further strengthen the partnership with municipalities and regions. We expect concrete proposals from all stakeholders regarding the development priorities and solutions. We wish to develop the operational programme and submit it to the European Commission by the end of 2021.’ During the visit, State Secretary, together with representatives of the municipality, visited the Vrelec Business Centre.

State Secretary concluded her working visit to the Savinjska region in Zreče where she joined a meeting between Prime Minister Janez Janša and mayor mag. Boris Podvršnik. ‘Our Office and ministries are coordinating the programming documents for the financial perspective 2021-2027. The Member States can expect a formal approval of the implementation bases in the middle of 2022,’ State Secretary underlined at the meeting. Participants of the meeting also discussed the concept of an intergenerational city which could be one of the priorities of Cohesion Policy.

The Government concluded the visit to the Savinjska region in Celje where Minister Černač participated in a public tribune with mayors, businessmen and other development actors in the region.