Bulc urges attracting private investors into transport projects


One such option is to combine non-refundable funds from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) with the mechanism of private capital with EU guarantees from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

"Europe craves investment, which is why we're willing to cooperate, get engaged and help to awake investment mentality and get the money to go around," the commissioner said.

Institutional private investors have an estimated liquidity of between EUR 6,000bn and EUR 7,000bn, but the money does not circulate due to a lack of interesting projects to co-fund.

This is why it is important to draw up quality projects so they will be in a position to ensure a cash flow, she said.

The European Commission estimates the EU would need EUR 500bn in investment to establish appropriate infrastructure to ensure interoperability and to follow ambitions. There is now EUR 26bn available for trans-European transport network TEN-T.

A total of EUR 7.6bn will be available for development of infrastructure in the second call for applications for non-refundable funds in CEF, for which the deadline expires on 16 February.

Out of the EUR 6.5bn available in national envelopes, there is still EUR 121m available in the envelope for Slovenia.

Out of 700 projects applied in the first call, 276 were selected to acquire EUR 13.1bn, including all 13 Slovenian projects applied.

The latter included a study for a second tube of the Karavanke road tunnel on the border with Austria, an upgrade of the Poljčane-Slovenska Bistrica rail link and a siding at the Koper freight station.

"Investment in transport infrastructure can be – apart from exports – a factor for increasing GDP growth," Infrastructure Minster Peter Gašperšič said.

As less EU funds are available for Slovenia in this budget framework, alternative sources of financing will be set out shortly in an operative plan for the implementation of the transport development strategy.

Slovenia will be able to compete for EU funds with projects such as the construction of the second Karavanke tunnel tube and the completion of the Draženci-Gruškovje motorway and several rail links.

A combination of mechanisms is planned for the second rail track between the port of Koper and the inland hub of Divača, an EUR 1.4bn project which is to be build in a public-private partnership.

The minister said that apart from an investment by a private partner, the project would also vie for funds from the open part of the CEF call as well as the EFSI mechanism.

Slovenia is looking for support for the project in other countries. The talks are most advanced with Hungary, which is interested in a concession in the port of Koper in exchange for investment.

More details are expected after the meeting of both governments on 22 January.