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Western Slovenia to Remain Eligible for EU Cohesion Funds

Brussels, 06 October (STA) - The European Commission's draft cohesion policy for 2014-2020 introduces a transitional period allowing regions like Western Slovenia, whose GDP was below 75% of the EU average but rose to above 90% of the average over the last period, to continue phasing at least two-thirds of the existing funds.

The European Commission drafted three categories of regions in the proposal it adopted on Thursday: less developed regions whose GDP is below 75% of the EU average, transition regions whose GDP is between 75% and 90% of the average, and more developed regions whose GDP is above 90% of the average.

The second category, which is newly introduced, is designed to ease the transition of regions that have become more competitive in recent years but still need targeted support.

The Commission however decided that even the regions that were so far below 75% and are now above 90% should be able to to benefit from gradual transition to the highest category, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a statement.

"So basically we propose that such regions, Western Slovenia among them...get at least two-thirds of the existing level of aid," Potocnik said.

While Eastern Slovenia's GDP remained below 75% of the EU average, meaning it would be able to continue phasing EU funds at the same level, Western Slovenia, which already exceeds 100% of the average EU GDP, could face serious problems if the bloc did not introduce the transitional period.

Potocnik said that this was good news for Slovenia, as it will still be able to phase a considerable amount of EU funds, which, according to unofficial estimates, could amount to around EUR 500m over the next period.

He believes that the Commission laid good foundations for boosting the bloc's cohesion in the 2014-2020 period.

The Local Government and Regional Policy Office welcomed the Commission's draft, saying that this was a priority for Slovenia, "but because of different interests of EU member states, the negotiations will be hard".

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