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‘Further work needed to close the gaps between regions’, agree Ministers Han and Jevšek

  • Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy
The second day of this year's edition of Slovenian Regional Days in Ptuj featured Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, and Minister for Development and European Cohesion Policy, dr Aleksander Jevšek.

Delivering introductory remarks, both ministers underlined the importance of good cooperation between local, regional and national authorities and emphasised the key role of Cohesion Policy funding in reducing the development gaps between regions in Slovenia.  

Slovenian Regional Days are organised by the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, the Anton Melik Geographical Institute, the Slovenian Regional Development Fund and the Association of Regional Development Agencies of Slovenia.

In his remarks, Minister for Development and European Cohesion Policy, dr Aleksander Jevšek, stressed that Slovenia found itself in a very important period of time, with the current programming period about to close soon and the new programming period drawing near. The Minister went on to say that the Cohesion Policy Programme for the period 2021-2027 was approved by the government and the development councils of both cohesion regions. ''We expect the European Commission to approve the programme in mid-December, so that we can start using the funding available under the programming period 2021-2027 at the beginning of next year. This means that our government, which took office on 1 June this year, only has to take one last step to fully deliver on one of its priorities, even though time has not been on our side,’’ added the Minister.    

The Minister explained that Slovenia is eligible to 3.26 billion euros from the EU which will be invested in its development through five policy objectives. ''Cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija already surpasses the average level of development in the EU, but its counterpart in the east of the country falls behind this average,'' underlined Minister Jevšek. He noted that development gaps between Slovenian regions were narrowing, but that there was still room for improvement as lower quality of life of people in the east of the country reflected the differences in the economic development of the regions. Minister Jevšek was certain that if all stakeholders came together and worked collaboratively the country would be able to bridge these gaps and ensure a balanced development of the regions. Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, agreed with Minister Jevšek praising the good work and cooperation of all stakeholders responsible for strengthening regional development. ‘’The Agreement on the development of region is a mechanism that has helped us issue 218 funding decisions worth over 474 million euros in the programming period 2014-2021,’’ Minister Han said and added that the agreements proved to be an efficient instrument worth keeping despite some initial delays and somewhat complex procedures. Minister Han admitted that such agreements are often hard to reach as negotiations take place both horizontally and vertically. At the same time, the Minister outlined the advantages of the mechanism and said: ’’Where there are talks and negotiations, there is cooperation. The more we cooperate, the more synergies we create. The connection pipeline Bistrica-Rodik which brings together both cohesion regions and the Krvavec pipeline which brings together Osrednjeslovenska region and Gorenjska region are a perfect example of such collaborative work.’’ 

Minister Han also stressed the importance of Cohesion Policy funding saying that Slovenia was one of those member states whose development relied significantly on EU support. ‘’The estimated share of public investment financed by the EU stands high at 30%, whereas in the EU, this share equals merely 8.5%,’’ highlighted the Minister. ‘’In the future, the state will have to ensure its own funds without relying so much on Cohesion Policy funding and EU solidarity,’’ he added. In this context, he underscored the importance of data for strategic decision-making and planning. ‘’Here today we are joined by our important partners whose data we use on a daily basis. The data they collect needs to be easily interpreted and understood, and I’m pleased to say that coordination between users and data providers is taking place as well.’’

Later today, the Ministers will pay a visit to a small business zone in the Municipality of Podlehnik, where they will meet with local mayors to discuss the issues of linking border problem areas to important transport corridors and defining the role of border problem areas in the new programming period.