The Slovenia Times

Commissioner Lewandowski: Slovenia Too Pessimistic


Negotiations on Europe's budget for the 2014-2020 period are currently in the final phase and they are extremely important for the union's future. An agreement on the budget with an emphasis on investment is necessary, especially since austerity measures have proven insufficient in tackling the crisis, Lewandowski said.

Europe needs hope in investment, the commissioner believes. Structural and cohesion funds contribute about 40% of the money for public investments in Slovenia, while in Slovakia the number reaches 76% and in neighbouring Hungary 97%.

Divided into two regions for the purpose of EU funding, eastern and western, Slovenia was in this perspective a "victim of its own success", Lewandowski said.

While the eastern region has not yet reached the limit of 75% of the union's GDP and continues to be eligible for full EU funding, the western part of the country has already exceeded this threshold.

Slovenia therefore advocates a kind of "safety net" provision giving regions that barely exceed the 75% threshold the right to two-thirds of the funds they received in the preceding budgetary period.

If the provision is included in the new budget, western Slovenia could get some EUR 500m in the 2014-2020 period.

Senčar stressed that Slovenia opposed further cuts to the financial framework, adding that a budget geared towards development, growth and jobs was key for the coming seven-year period.

Slovenia sees cohesion funds as development funds, Senčar explained. He expects Slovenia's "net position" in the new financial framework to be positive, meaning the state will receive more funds from the EU than it will contribute.

Lewandowski also touched on the general situation in Slovenia, saying that Slovenians were too pessimistic given the situation in some other EU countries. The true problems lie elsewhere in Europe, he said, adding that Slovenia has "imported" the crisis and not the other way around.


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