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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Draining of European funds: Slovenia has now fallen from the top in Janša’s government to the very bottom

By: Anita Gužvič (Nova24TV.si)

When it comes to spending funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan, Slovenia ranks penultimate among the EU member states, while in terms of cohesion policy, we fell from 4th to 9th place. Apparently, Robert Golob’s government believes that we do not need the money for development and recovery that is lying on a platter, or they are simply not capable of drawing what we drew during the time of Janez Janša’s government. The plan for recovery and resilience prepared by Janša’s government was already being implemented, and tenders for the renovation and construction of waterworks, sewers, digitisation, and development projects had already been published. The programme documents for the cohesion policy 2021-2027 were also nearing the end, and the withdrawal of funds from the period 2014-2020 was in full swing. During Janša’s government – after years of left-wing governments – Slovenia improved the absorption of European funds and was already four percentage points above the EU average, and in terms of the use of funds, it was in 4th place among all EU member states. Now it is falling again.

It is undeniable that the former government of Janez Janša was extremely effective in many areas. Among other things, in just two years they managed to reverse the trends of catastrophic withdrawal of funds from the European Union funds, which former left-wing governments had ineffectively dealt with, but we are back at the tail end with Golob’s government.

Slovenia is at the bottom among all member states

According to Deloitte data, with 231 million euros in advance payments for the implementation of the plan, Slovenia ranked penultimate among all member states, while Croatia with 2.2 billion euros or 35 percent of funds drawn in third place. To date, the situation for Slovenia has not significantly improved, but at the beginning of March, the European Commission gave a preliminary positive assessment of the first request for the payment of European funds for recovery and resilience in the amount of 50 million euros, reports the portal Slovenec.

Long-term care was also withdrawn from the Recovery and Resilience Plan

Since Slovenia will receive 286 million less from the European plan for recovery and development than Janša’s government originally negotiated, the government of Robert Golob is now proposing to scale back the plan for the recovery of resilience, namely by reducing funding and delaying some projects. The suggestion of delaying the implementation of long-term care is especially agitating. Janša’s government promised the European Commission that the law would be implemented in the second quarter of 2022, after which there was a change of power. The government of Robert Golob delayed the implementation: Minister Mesec said at the time that long-term care would start on the first of January 2024, but now they are proposing that it be further delayed to the second quarter of next year. The government’s proposal met with negative reactions from the opposition in the National Assembly.

Let’s remember that when MP Rado Gladek asked the Finance Committee a few days ago what led the government to eliminate projects from the recovery and resilience plan, Minister Klemen Boštjančič replied: “The key principle, that we at the Office for Recovery and Resilience tackled when we scrapped these projects, was what is the least likely to be delivered by 2026. An additional criterion was what we miss most easily. Those were the criteria.”

A special chapter is also the drawing of cohesion funds, which magically improved in the right-wing governments, but then – what a coincidence – collapsed in the left-wing governments. Namely, in 2020, the highest proportion of the absorption of EU funds of the financial perspective 2014-2020 was achieved in relation to the planned funds, namely 90 percent. 101.4 million euros of the planned 112.5 million euros were drawn from European funds. In the field of European cohesion policy alone, this share amounted to as much as 93 percent. In 2021, the trend of drawing European funds further escalated and reached twice as much realisation in the amount of 217.4 million euros.

Now, it took the government almost half a year to redistribute a modest 29 million euros within the framework of the prepared Programme, worth 3.2 billion euros, and to finalise the document with the European Commission, reports the Slovenec portal. So, what is happening with Robert Golob’s government? He constantly says that there is no money in the coffers, and that they do not know how to draw the European funds served on a platter.

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