The Slovenia Times

Summit100 Calls for Quality Projects for Juncker Plan


"Slovenia, Croatia and other countries in the region will be able to tap into the plan well. We believe companies will submit good projects," Damir Kuštrak, a board member of Croatian food group Agrokor and one of the moderators, told the opening panel of the second day of proceedings at Summit100.

Kuštrak called for businesses to team up through various modes of cooperation to be more competitive in the market. "Let's hope the Juncker plan will help move things in the right direction."

The other panel moderator, NLB bank chairman Janko Medja, echoed the view as he said that the Juncker plan in particular favoured projects bringing together several EU members as well as EU members and non-members from the neighbourhood.

"The European Investment Bank as well as the European Commission want to support the region and see great potential," Medja said. "Politics and business must ensure projects are prepared to connect countries and markets so we'll be able to use the opportunities."

The investment plan targets especially transport, energy, digital economy and innovation. Since many of the companies in these sectors in the region are state owned, Kuštrak proposed considering further privatisations.

European Commission official Alessandro Carano too underscored the need for quality projects. There is enough liquidity in the market, it merely needs to be directed into real economy, he said.

Carano also called for further steps to improve the European investment environment as an essential component. "We need the countries' commitment to reform here."

Meanwhile Janez Škrabec, the chairman of Slovenian civil engineering firm Riko, expressed the hope that the Juncker plan would not be "as complicated as drawing from cohesion funds". He referred to the red tape and delays accompanying EU fund phasing.

Slobodan Đinović, the CEO of Serbian telecoms provider Orion Telekom, urged the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) not to focus on big infrastructure projects alone. "We need more investment in venture projects that can yield more."

Carano said that the only factor counting in the selection of a project would be its significance, rather than which industry or country it came from and that there would be no political awarding of projects.

One of the options would be to combine projects into investment platforms focused on a sector or region. "It's up to the market to develop ideas," Carano said.

The idea to combine smaller projects into platforms is the right approach for EIB director for the Adriatic region Romualdo Massa Bernucci. "It enables targeting smaller projects that could otherwise be included individually."

Vedrana Jelušić Kašić of the EBRD underscored the need for improving the business environment and climate throughout the region, and developing and linking the capital markets.

She believes the region will have to develop a coordinated dialogue in the fields of transport, energy and broader in order to build and enhance its position in Europe.


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