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Government discusses progress in Cohesion Policy implementation

Government discusses progress in Cohesion Policy implementation

Ljubljana, 6 December 2018 – Government took note of the Report on the Implementation of EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 under the Investment in Growth and Jobs Goal for the Period January 2014-End of September 2018. Slovenia has a total of EUR 3.1 billion available until the end of 2023, but the state of play raises concern – Slovenia has fallen somewhat short of effectively using the allocated amount. Thus, the Government called on the ministries involved in the implementation of EU Cohesion Policy to carry out measures to improve and accelerate absorption of EU funding in line with the Action plan to speed up the use of EU funding under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of EU Cohesion Policy in the Period 2014-2020.

Between January 2014 and end of September 2018, a total of 360 (382 as of today) grant decisions have been issued for the projects, programmes or calls for proposals worth a total of EUR 2.09 billion, which accounts for  68 % of the available funding (EU part). EUR 851 million of the amount went to the East – Vzhodna Slovenija cohesion region and EUR 697 million to the West – Zahodna Slovenija cohesion region. A total of EUR 544.5 million from the Cohesion Fund was allocated across the whole of Slovenia. Contracts worth a total of EUR 2.02 billion were signed, which accounts for 66 % of the available funds. EUR 507.7 million has been paid out of the national budget (including financial instruments), which represents 17 % of the available funds. Requests for payment totalling EUR 310 million (EU part), which represents 10 % of the available funds, have been submitted to the European Commission by the end of September 2018.

Current Slovenian Government admits that Slovenia has indeed fallen short in terms of expected levels of absorption and performance, which is reflected in particular in the final implementation stage – the extremely low amount of money coming reimbursed from the EU budget into the national budget. Thus, Slovenian Parliament and National Council urged the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy (GODC) as the Managing Authority to draw up an Action plan to speed up the use of EU funding under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of EU Cohesion Policy in the Period 2014-2020. The document has already been developed and focuses particularly on action to improve and optimise the functioning of IT systems and to reduce the gap between the payments made from the national budget and the reimbursements received from the EU budget.

Acceleration measures are inevitable and necessary in light of meeting the so-called n+3 rule at the end of 2018. The latter requires that the amounts committed under an operational programme are used within three financial years following the year of budget commitment (commitments made in 2015 have to be spent by the end of 2018). Indeed, this means that the annual allocation made in accordance with the financing plan for the financial year 2015 which amounts to EUR 391 million has to be recognised as eligible and certified by the end of this year. Should Slovenian authorities fail to certify the expenditure in the expected amount by the deadline, the Commission will launch the decommitment procedure, the amount to be decommitted standing at EUR 143 million. Slovenian authorities are doing everything in their power to avoid the situation and reach the 2018 target.

The relevant ministries (intermediate bodies) and GODC as the Managing Authority will, in accordance with the action plan and the report on the implementation of the operational programme, specifically focus on the necessary action and measures identified in the analyses done and action plans drawn up (separate documents) and speed them up. Also, priority attention will be given to the procedures for issuance of permits, consents or accompanying documents needed before the projects kick off. The Managing Authority will, working closely with the Ministry of Finance, speed up or shorten the response time to address any errors and optimise IT system performance to better support the implementation of EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020.   

The report also provides information on the implementation and performance of individual priority axes under the operational programme and outlines the scenario for the post-2020 period. Slovenian Government adopted the position on Cohesion Policy beyond 2020 as early as March 2018, i.e. already before the start of the negotiations of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposed and put on table on 2 May 2018. In its position, Slovenia welcomes the fact that the Commission recognized its specific situation which was brought on by the economic and financial crisis, and acknowledged the strong need of the country to invest more in development and growth to drive up economic convergence, support economic transformation, and tackle the challenges ahead. Slovenia is also pleased to note that the allocation of Cohesion Policy resources is still largely based on the GDP per capita which recognises the need to focus support on the areas lagging behind. Slovenia underlines that further efforts should be made to design solutions to prevent a sharp and sudden reduction in Cohesion envelopes at the regional level. According to the report discussed today, the proposal for the post-2020 Cohesion Policy includes important simplification measures concerning the implementation process; however these should be carefully examined by the national experts to see whether the proposed simplifications have the potential to be successfully translated into action on the ground.

Report on the Implementation of EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 under the Investment in Growth and Jobs Goal for the Period January 2014–End of September 2018 (in Slovene)
Action Plan to Speed up the Use of EU Funding under the Operational Programme for the Implementation of EU Cohesion Policy in the Period 2014–2020 (in Slovene)

 

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