Cohesion Policy targets all regions and cities in the European Union in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and improve citizens’ quality of life. Cohesion Policy underpins European solidarity and the bulk of Cohesion Policy funding is concentrated on less developed European countries and regions in order to help them catch up and reduce the economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist in the EU.
Cohesion Policy complements EU policies such as those dealing with education, employment, energy, the environment, the single market, research and innovation. In particular Cohesion Policy provides the necessary investment framework to meet the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy. In order to reach these goals and address the diverse development needs in all EU regions, EUR 351.8 billion – almost a third of the total EU budget – has been set aside for Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020.
In the 2014-2020 period Slovenia is eligible to EUR 3.255 billion under the European Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund of which EUR 159.8 million is earmarked for Connecting Europe Facility (for transport) and EUR 64 million for European Territorial Cooperation programmes. The remaining, i.e. majority, of the available funding will be spent to meet the Europe 2020 Strategy goals focusing on key areas of economic growth and job creation:
• research and innovation
• information and communication technologies
• enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises
• supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy
The European Commission has identified 11 thematic objectives in the framework of which the Member States finance European Cohesion Policy measures and thus contribute to meeting the Europe 2020 Strategy goals:
1. strengthening research, technological development and innovation
2. enhancing access to, and use and quality of, ICT
3. enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, of the agricultural sector (for the EAFRD) and of the fishery and aquaculture sector (for the EMFF)
4. supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors
5. promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management
6. preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency
7. promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures
8. promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility
9. promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination
10. investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning
11. enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration
In line with the EU methodology Slovenia will be divided into two cohesion regions, namely the cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija (west Slovenia) and the cohesion region Vzhodna Slovenija (east Slovenia). The cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija will be eligible to EUR 855 million and the cohesion region Vzhodna Slovenija to EUR 1.27 billion, namely under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The funds available under the Cohesion Fund (CF) will not be divided for the two regions and the whole of Slovenia will be eligible to EUR 1.055 billion for the construction of environmental and transport infrastructure as well as for sustainable use of energy.
The funding available under the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund will be spent for investing in research, human resources development, investing in educational system and training system to speed up entering the labour market, promoting entrepreneurship, start-ups, internationalisation, developing new business models for small and medium-sized enterprises and job creation. Investments will focus on areas with a clearly-defined market potential and areas which enhance added value and access to sources of financing. Slovenia will establish conditions for a long-term stable environment which will – by taking into account the societal challenges (demographic movements, environmental pressures, access to food, etc.) – promote the development of new high-quality jobs and preserve the existing jobs under the changed economic structure.
Primarily investment will focus on supporting the so-called soft topics and will ensure combination of measures covering investment in human resources, activation, mobility, research, development and innovation and greater energy and material efficiency. The 2014-2020 period thus no longer focuses on regional and/or sectoral projects but on integrated and well-developed projects which will contribute to meeting the set objectives/results. Regional projects will be financed in the framework of thematic priority axes and on the basis of the division into two cohesion regions. Due to the fact that Slovenia is eligible to a smaller amount of EU funding if compared to the 2007-2013 programming period, Slovenia will have to use the available funds very efficiently in all areas.