The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Raises Issues in EU Investment Plan


He is worried about definition of state aid in project financing and the treatment of borrowing by the national development institutions.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments is the main element of the European Commission's investment plan which is to unlock at least EUR 315bn worth of primarily private investment into European strategic projects and thus boost Europe's growth and competitiveness.

The funds would provide security to investors through EUR 21bn in capital from the EU budget and the European Investment Fund (EIB). Member states now need to agree on the management of the fund and the makeup of the bodies that would decide on the selection of projects eligible for funding.

In today's session of EU finance ministers Slovenia raised three issues, according to Mramor: differences in risk taken by the EIB and national development banks, the definition of state aid in the financing of projects and the treatment of debt taken for the purpose by the national development institutions.

The minister explained that the EIB, being secured with the money from the EU budget, would take much less risk compared to the state development institutions such as the SID development bank in the case of Slovenia, and that high risks reduced the options for their participation in the investment plan.

Another trap could be a lack of a clear definition as to when the financing of a project is considered as state aid. The fairly cheap financing provided by development institutions could represent state aid along with the ramifications related to the approval of such aid.

A third issue is the question of whether development institutions belong to the general government sector or not. "If they do this can be another trap for [Jean-Claude] Juncker's plan," Mramor said, noting that their borrowing would in that case mean an increase in public debt and deficit, which are bound by rules.

Mramor discussed how to best tap on the opportunities offered by the EU investment package and other EU funds available for the development of infrastructure with Slovenia's member of the European Commission, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.

The main topic was the strategy for the network of rail, road and other infrastructure, which Mramor said could be one of major advantages for Slovenia and which the country could build its growth on also in the future. He said a second Koper-Divača rail track was part of that but would not specify further.


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