The Slovenia Times

PM Raises Flood Safety and Rail Network Upgrade in Brussels


"I have highlighted measures designed to prevent flooding in Slovenia," Cerar told reporters after the meeting, which comes in the wake of the latest floods that hit the country.

Noting that the problem was also a matter of infrastructure, Cerar said that EU funding could contribute greatly to efforts to prevent flooding and other consequences of extreme weather.

"I specifically raised the importance of upgrading the rail system in Slovenia, which would have many good effects, including environmental and economic ones.

"If a second track [between Divača and Koper] was built, we could link the port of Koper with Central Europe," Cerar said, explaining that the project caught Juncker's keen interest.

He said the railway system upgrade plans envisaged various EU funding possibilities, not only in the framework of the investment package.

He said it would be premature to discuss the amount of funds. The Finance Ministry is working on a proposal of various investment projects to be proposed to the European Commission the total value of which could be EUR 9bn, but the PM said these were at the moment just drafts and ideas.

Cerar indicated to Juncker that the Slovenian government was ambitious, was looking to make a breakthrough and wanted to contribute to economic revival and environmental protection.

Cerar also briefed Juncker on the situation in the country, reporting that his government was taking measures aimed at fiscal consolidation and economic stabilisation.

The European Commission is due to assess euro countries' budgetary plans by the end of the month, with Cerar saying he had detected no signals Slovenia's plan for 2015 would not be assessed as appropriate.

Cerar underscored Slovenia expected to get equal treatment over budget deficit and other fiscal measures. "We cannot consent to double measures for larger countries to be treated differently than small ones."

He said Juncker accepted the argument with understanding, promising to put in his word against double standards. "The future will tell how successful the European Commission will be in this respect," he said, announcing the government would react accordingly in case of unequal treatment.

The pair also touched briefly on the Luxembourg tax scandal, with Cerar noting that Juncker had appeared very calm and convincing about the matter.

"I believe he has a clear vision. Regardless of the situation I believe he is aware we need a strong and effective Commission. I wish the same so I hope the situation will not provoke other processes."

Although a joint statement is the order of the day following such meetings, the president of the Commission did not address reporters.

Commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud described the meeting as a "constructive and cordial courtesy visit" without disclosing any details.

Juncker has not appeared before the media following the disclosure that Luxembourg tax authorities helped multinationals avoid tax in countries where their operations were based.

Cerar also met Slovenia's member of the Commission Violeta Bulc, who is in charge of transport, with the pair establishing potential for synergy and joint action in projects important for Slovenia.


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