The Slovenia Times

Michel promises EU's further support in post-flood reconstruction

Stahovica pri Kamniku
European Council President Charles Michel addresses reporters after inspecting the damage caused by floods in the Kamnik municipality with Prime Minister Robert Golob.
Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

European Council President Charles Michel reaffirmed the EU's solidarity with Slovenia in the wake of the devastating early August flooding, as he saw the extent of damage first-hand on 27 August. He promised the EU will stay by Slovenia's side in the future.

"It is extremely clear that Slovenia is facing a difficult, complex situation," Michel told reporters after he visited the Kamnik municipality north of Ljubljana accompanied by Prime Minister Robert Golob.

"I am impressed by the courage of the Slovenian people, I'm also impressed by the focus and determination of the authorities and your leadership," he said, turning to Golob.

He noted the European Commission's promise to mobilise €400 million from the EU Solidarity Fund, first made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as she visited the country on 9 August, only days after the floods.

However, he said the EU would continue to stand by Slovenia in the future, noting the importance of rebuilding the country to be better prepared for future natural disasters.

Golob said Michel's visit reaffirmed the EU's promise not to forget Slovenia. "The EU stands by our side and it will help us not only with rapid response to natural disasters, but also with reconstruction."

"Today we visited a location where a bridge will be built in the coming days with the help of our European partners," he said.

Joint Slovenian and European Commission teams are examining how Slovenia can effectively tap the funds from the Solidarity Fund.

The government is also working on an application to draw loans from the recovery and resilience plan.

"I hope all this, including cohesion funds, will be sufficient for Slovenia to recover after the floods," Golob said, emphasizing that Slovenia would also have to look for all possible own sources for the reconstruction.

Him and Michel agreed that the money pooled into the Solidarity Fund would have to be increased.

"If we are successful in addressing other member states for these funds to be increased, I believe Slovenia can count on more substantial support from the (Solidarity) Fund," Golob said, responding to a question by a journalist who noted that the damage estimate had increased substantially since the €400 million was promised. The latest government estimate puts the cost at €5 billion.

Golob and Michel also shared the view about the importance of the EU's enlargement, which is ranking as the main topic of their dinner with Western Balkan leaders.

"The EU is facing the dilemma of how to set out the enlargement process so it can meet the challenges of our times," said Golob.

The dinner will discuss the opportunities for the Western Balkan countries and "why their efforts to harmonise legislation should be stepped up so that we can move forward at the European Council in December".

The dinner is attended by all heads of government from the region, except for Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. They as well as Michel will also attend the Bled Strategic Forum on 28-29 August.


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