The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Left Without CEF Funding for Koper-Divača Track For Now


Slovenia, which had applied for EUR 413.3m in cofunding for the Koper-Divača track, presently estimated at EUR 1.4bn, will be able to apply again in the next call for applications in the autumn.

It has secured co-funding for the siding track at the Koper port, also considered vital and meaning the start of the second track. The project is estimated at EUR 26.84m, of which CEF is expected to cover EUR 20.56m.

The other project approved for the Connecting Europe Facility in the Slovenian envelope segment, which is worth EUR 160m, is an upgrade of the railway section Poljčane - Slovenska Bistrica, in the north-east of the country. EU funding is expected to cover EUR 18.41m of the project's estimated EUR 46.96m in costs.

Infrastructure Minister Peter Gašperšič said that Koper-Divača not making the cut in the open section of the call was not surprising given the large number of projects entered and that the reason was also because the financial plan for the project had not been finalised yet.

He however argued that "it is key that we get EU funding even before we get a private partner", saying that failing to present a final plan of financing should not be a reason to throw out the project in the coming calls for applications.

The government is meanwhile continuing with the search for a private partner and selecting possible models for a public private partnership. The decision on whether to apply for CEF again in the autumn or wait until next year will depend on progress made on that front.

A list of potential public private partnership models is expected to be debated by the cabinet in July and the most appropriate could be selected by the autumn. A tender for interested private investors is expected to be published next year.

Touching on possible models, he mentioned one where a private investor would build the track and then be paid back by the state as part of a credit scheme that would not count as public debt.

Another possibility would entail the involvement of Luka Koper since "the investor will probably also want to have control over what happens with the port".

The minister confirmed that interest has been expressed by Chinese, Turkish, German as well as French investors.

Slovenia has meanwhile secured another EUR 13m in cofunding in the open section of the CEF, with the European Commission okaying eight of the 12 projects filed with an estimated total value of EUR 48.1m.

Thus the EU will for instance finance half of the EUR 7.5m project documentation for a second tube of the Karavanke tunnel and contribute slightly over EUR 6m to a EUR 30.5m project that involves Luka Koper and is meant to improve access to northern Adriatic ports.

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said today the Commission would propose that EUR 13.1bn be distributed among 276 projects as part of the first CEF call for applications. The projects are estimated to be worth a total of EUR 29bn.

The total number of entries for the call, which closed in March, was 730 and their total value EUR 36bn. Because of unexpectedly strong interest, a number of good projects did not make the cut, Bulc added.

She invited all members states to also apply in the next call, when the Commission will make available around EUR 7bn in EU funding. Some of the projects will also be put on the list for the Commission's so-called investment offensive, which is meant to attract private investors as well.

Representatives of the Luka Koper port told the STA they were "of course disappointed" by the news. They stressed that despite the modernisation of the current single track, limitations remained and "an additional track would be urgently needed in the long term".

A strong reaction came from Dejan Židan, the head of the coalition SocDems, who said it was "incomprehensible how the need for a second track is recognised by partner countries...such as the Czech republic or Slovakia or even more distant ones, like China, but not the European Commission". He said Slovenia had the right to demand a "detailed explanation" from the Commission.


More from Nekategorizirano