Ljubljana/Luxembourg – The European Investment Bank (EIB) is ready to help Slovenia financially after the Covid-19 crisis, EIB vice-president Lilyana Pavlova told the press on Friday. Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj stressed the importance of investment for post-epidemic recovery.
The EIB has been active in Slovenia since 1977 and in this period it has allocated more than EUR 7 billion for various projects, Pavlova noted. In the last decade alone, it has invested over EUR 3.7 billion to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and infrastructural projects.
Despite the coronavirus crisis, 2020 was a very good year for partnership with Slovenia, according to Pavlova. The EIB group approved EUR 254 million in financing to the country last year, including EUR 33 million through the European Investment Fund (EIF) and EUR 221 million through the EU’s in-house bank, which is 20% more than in 2019.
Listing key projects in Slovenia in 2020, Pavlova highlighted the expansion of the optical network for which the EIB approved EUR 100 million in a long-term loan to the national telco, Telekom Slovenije, the second tube of the Karavanke tunnel, where the EIB signed a EUR 90 million contract with the state-run motorway company DARS, and a EUR 31 million deal with power utility Elektro Maribor for works on the distribution network in the north-east.
Pavlova also pointed to the EIB’s consultancy work, which she said would be crucial in the years of recovery when a lot of different types of financing will be available.
According to the vice-president, the EIB would like to continue to support growth and development in various fields and on different levels in Slovenia, focussing on post-epidemic recovery and green projects this year.
Šircelj said the government had been acting decisively in the last year to mitigate the consequences of the crisis and that the recovery would be a long-term process. He said certain measures would be discontinued in the future while more aid would be provided to the sectors that had hit the most.
“The exit strategy does not mean merely healing our wounds but introducing new measures to improve the state of our economy,” he stressed, pointing to investments to make the economy more competitive, green and digital.
He expressed hope that the good partnership with the EIB would continue. The Koper-Divača rail project is green and sustainable and once the main construction works start Slovenia will do its best to win the EIB’s funding for the project, he announced.
So far the EIB has approved up to EUR 250 million in loans for the project.
In the meantime, several projects to modernise Slovenia’s sole seaport in Koper will be conducted and Šicelj is also hoping for the EIB’s support there.
The minister mentioned railway and road projects, support to SMEs after the crisis, and the construction of apartments by the Housing Fund.
Ulla Hudina from the European Commission Representation in Slovenia said that the Commission had been in intensive talks with Slovenia since the end of last August on its national plan for drawing of funds from the EUR 672.5 billion EU recovery fund.
The EU’s main demand is that 37% of investments from the national plans go for green recovery and 20% for digital transition and the Commission will be very strict about this, Hudina said.
Commenting on the information that Slovenia plans much more investments in roads than in railways, she said the Commission favoured railway projects, especially on the main European corridors, and that the plan was not final yet.
She said various options for funding would be available in the coming years and that combining different sources, both private and public, would be encouraged. The Commission and EIB will offer countries advice and technical support on this, she said.