Friday, June 14, 2024

Cohesion funds helped implement over nine thousand projects in the 2014-2020 period | GOV.SI

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“Each new job, each investment in social inclusion and environmental conservation, each partnership, each metre of a new or reconstructed road, each pipe supplying drinking water to our citizens is the result of our common efforts to achieve the main goal of cohesion policy – to reduce development disparities between regions. This is how we build solidarity, one of the main principles of cohesion policy. Cohesion brings people and institutions together. It is an indispensable part of our common project called European Union. A project that was designed to help European nations live in peace, harmony and prosperity,” said Minister Dr Aleksander Jevšek in his opening address.

The Minister thanked all the stakeholders who have contributed to the successful closure of the programme, namely the European Commission, ministries, regional and local actors, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations for their initiatives and successful project delivery on the ground. He also thanked his coworkers at the ministry, especially thanking Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio) for their invaluable help with preparing the application form for financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to help Slovenia recover from the natural disaster that hit Slovenia in 2023.  

Senior representatives of the European Commission (EC), Sofia Alves, Director at DG Regio, and Michael Morass, Deputy Head of Unit for Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, and Germany from the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, also delivered their speeches.

Ms Alves recalled that Slovenia has been a member of the EU for 20 years and that it is hard to imagine life today without the EU, which has contributed more than EUR 3 billion to projects in the economic, social and territorial cohesion fields in the 2014-2020 period. She went on to highlight three projects. The National Institute of Biology (NIB), for which the EU has contributed EUR 22 million and which is already one of the leading biotechnology research institutes in Europe; the Gradaščica Flood Protection Project, for which the EU has contributed EUR 57.5 million and which will protect 17,800 inhabitants. The implemented measures already proved successful in the August 2023 floods. The project of upgrading the Maribor-Šentilj railway line, for which the EU contributed EUR 128 million, makes an important contribution to sustainable mobility.

She also touched on the post-2027 period: “At DG Regio, we firmly believe that we must preserve the very essence of cohesion policy, namely to support less developed regions and maintain a regional perspective, to improve the lives of citizens and to ensure equal opportunities for all, and to continue to maintain the principle of shared management between the Member States and the EC.”


Michael Morass spoke about the role of the European Social Fund (ESF), which makes an important contribution to reducing unemployment and strengthening Slovenia’s economic competitiveness: “In the last programming period, around 320,000 participants benefited from ESF projects in your country, including more than 81,000 young people and around 32,000 long-term unemployed. Slovenia is one of the best performing EU countries when it comes to implementing the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is demonstrated by the indicators and reflected on the ground.”

The European Social Fund has a strong focus on upskilling and retraining. Over the last 9 years, more than 136,000 adults in Slovenia have benefited from lifelong learning. More than 35,000 have been supported in their transition from education and training to the labour market, Morass added.

At the end of the ceremony, Minister Jevšek and the Director at DG Regio Alves presented awards to the top three secondary schools that participated in the pilot project At the School of Open Cohesion in the 2023/2024 school year. Third place went to the general upper secondary school Gimnazija Ormož, second place to Secondary Technical School Koper, and first place to Vocational Training Centre Ljubljana. The School of Open Cohesion is an innovative interdisciplinary educational programme aimed at all types of secondary schools. The programme combines civic education, digital and statistical skills and data journalism with horizontal competences. Young people develop skills for critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, as well as interpersonal and communication skills. Eight secondary schools participated this year.

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