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European Commission visits the Savinjsko-šaleška region

European Commission visits the Savinjsko-šaleška region
Photo: Bor Slana

On the occasion of the special ceremony marking the adoption of Slovenia’s Cohesion Policy Programme 2021-2027, a delegation from the European Commission, led by Ms Sofia Alves, the Director at the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, visited Slovenia. The European Commission delegation and the representatives of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, led by its State Secretary mag. Marko Koprivc, visited the Savinjsko-šaleška region.

State Secretary mag. Marko Koprivc said that he was very pleased that “in addition to the adoption of Slovenia’s Cohesion Policy Programme, the fair energy transition action plans have been adopted for both coal regions, namely for the Savinjsko-šaleška region (also called the SAŠA region) – where we are today – and the region of Zasavje,” adding that over 250 million euros are earmarked for the fair energy transition of both regions.          

State Secretary said that Government Office plans to publish the first calls for proposals for awarding EU funding in March. “It is our shared responsibility to prepare high-quality projects and thus facilitate the energy transition that will benefit all the inhabitants of the two coal regions,” also underlined State Secretary.

In her address, Ms Sofia Alves, the Director at the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, stressed the importance of the transition towards climate neutrality with coal regions facing demanding challenges, which the Just Transition Fund under the new programming period helps address. 

“The Just Transition Mechanism has been set up in the frame of the European Green Deal to make sure no region is left behind. In the 2021-2027 period, the Just Transition Fund makes 19.2 million euros available to regions most affected by the transition towards a climate-neutral economy. “We expect everyone at the national, regional and local levels to contribute to the fast implementation of well-prepared projects. Thus, 2023 is the key year for investments. Let’s use this opportunity to make the fair energy transition a success story for these regions’ future generations,” said Ms Alves.   

European Commission’s visit to Slovenia was also an opportunity to discuss and consult with local authorities. The mayor of Urban Municipality Velenje Mr Peter Dermol welcomed the visitors on behalf of all the region’s mayors: “It is time to change our mindset. We are aware of our responsibility towards the environment and the community. If we build the much-needed trust, it will be much easier to carry out all the changes resulting from the restructuring of the region. The SAŠA coal region is ready, but we need our partners, namely the the support of the state and the European Commission, which I thank for their fruitful cooperation. I have said many times that it doesn’t all depend on financial resources; indeed, individuals play a key role in the energy transition. I believe that we will be successful because we have the needed knowledge and willpower.”       

The challenges the region faces in the coming years, and the concrete projects, were presented by mag. Biljana Škarja, Director of the SAŠA regional development agency, Mojca Šteblaj, Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, dr. Janez Rošer, Director of the coal-mining company Premogovnik Velenje, Viktor Vračar, General Manager of the thermoelectric power plant Termoelektrarne Šoštanj, mag. Gašper Škarja, Director of the municipal company Komunalno podjetje Velenje, mag. Iztok Mori, Director of Municipal Administration of Urban Municipality Velenje, and Karla Sitar, Head of the economic development and restructuring division at the Urban Municipality Velenje. After the discussion, the participants visited the valley area. 

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