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State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs at the Posavje Development Outlook 2021-2027 Conference

Posavje Regional Development Agency invited State Secretary Kirbiš Rojs to take part in an online conference Posavje Development Outlook 2021-2027. The State Secretary talked about the programming process and explained how ESI funds are programmed and planned for the upcoming 2021-2027 period. She also touched on possible complementarities with other funding sources.

The State Secretary provided key guidelines for successfully competing for EU funding in the upcoming period: ‘’Our Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy advises all potential beneficiaries from municipalities, businesses or public institutions to follow the recommendations of government departments on project design. The projects must be focused and concentrated at all stages of implementation of EU Cohesion Policy and of other EU funding sources. Making compromise and finding common ground amid a myriad of interests and wishes is a tough job, but we need to work together to align and agree on priorities,’’ said the State Secretary. She proposed that the thematic areas that cannot be co-financed by EU Cohesion Policy be removed from the funding plans. She mentioned, for example, building of schools and kindergartens saying that such investments are no longer eligible for EU funding in line with the Commission’s guidelines. She advised the potential beneficiaries to avoid fragmentation as they plan investments so as to avoid creating additional administrative burden.

In terms of the progress of the 2021-2027 programming process, the State Secretary highlighted that the current investment needs are estimated at around EUR 5 billion, while the amount that the country has at its disposal stands at EUR 3.3 billion. ‘’Over the summer, we held talks with the ministries to agree on the areas and contents that would be supported in the upcoming programming period. As we move on as regards the framing of the 2021-2027 period, we follow the priority frameworks given by the Commission and take into due account the regional differences and specificities. We also check whether the proposed activities should be funded through the state budget or through other funding sources. We wish to avoid seeing any fragmented activities approved. A series of workshops for a wide circle of stakeholders will be held in November and December. The conclusions of the workshops will be fed into draft operational programme to the largest extent possible. The Commission’s said to officially approve the member states’ operational programmes sometime in mid-2022. According to this timeline, the operational programmes should kick off in the beginning of 2023,’’ continued the State Secretary.

Referring to the upcoming 2021-2027 period, the State Secretary underlined the main novelty that sets the period apart from the previous periods saying that ‘’the co-financing rate for the cohesion region Vzhodna Slovenija will remain at 85%, while dropping to 40% for the more developed Zahodna Slovenija. The Government agreed that the funding gap of the less developed parts of Zahodna Slovenija will be covered by the state budget. Government departments are currently working on a regional map – the latter will define the rate of co-financing by the state budget, so that less developed areas will get more support,’’ explained the State Secretary.

In her contribution, the State Secretary touched on the complementarities between different funding sources saying that ‘’the amount that’s been made available to Slovenia is high – EU Cohesion Policy funds have been topped up by the Recovery and Resilience Facility funding. To increase the impact of these resources, we need to make sure they complement each other, but we should also do everything to prevent double funding. Despite the record high allocation for Slovenia, the EU resources are not enough to meet all our investment needs. That’s why we’ll have to find ways to combine multiple funding sources – Cohesion Policy, Recovery and Resilience Plan, state budget, municipal budgets, central EU programmes and private funding,’’ she concluded.

About 60 various stakeholders from the Posavje region took part in the debate on the following development priorities of the region: Economically Strong and Smart Posavje, Social Development of Posavje, Green and Low-Carbon Posavje, Mobile and Accessible Posavje, Balanced Spatial Development – Connecting Urban and Rural Areas.