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Slovenia: shaping the future sustainability of mountain areas / Slovenia / Regions / Homepage


Cohesion funds can give new impetus to the development of mountain areas in Slovenia. Two of the five policy objectives in effect until 2027 provide significant financial incentive to improve public services and the quality of life of local communities, while preserving nature

Slovenian territory is 72% dominated by mountains, a popular destination with almost 1.5 million visitors per year. At EU level, mountainous areas represent 28.8% of the territory and 16.9% of the general population. Primarily popular as tourist destinations, the mountains are currently subject to ecosystem and biodiversity vulnerabilities due to climate change. The main handicaps of these areas are the absence or insufficient infrastructure in place for permanent living close to nature and low employment opportunities as well as significant levels of depopulation, sound leakage and demographic change. .

Despite the obvious structural disadvantages, a recent study conducted by Euromontana shows that among the younger generations, 66% of respondents are interested in settling in mountain areas, provided that greater attention is paid to investment and the development of territorial policy. Although at EU level there is no policy dedicated to mountain regions, neither does the European Green Deal mention their presence and role from an environmental protection perspective, a viable alternative to invest in the mountains of tomorrow remains the cohesion policy and the associated funds dealing with regional social issues, economic and territorial disparities.

For the period 2021-2027, cohesion policy focuses on sustainable economic competitiveness and some 392 billion euros will be distributed among the Member States, on the basis of the GDP per capita of the regions. In the case of Slovenia, where mountain tourism plays an important role for the local economy, the cohesion funds amount to 3.54 billion euros. As illustrated in the fact sheet set prepared by the Montana project174, in Slovenia funds will be channeled through four programs (ESF+, ERDF, Cohesion Fund for the whole country and JTF), with some €1.5 billion coming under the Regional Development Fund which addresses existing disparities in the East and West Cohesion Regions.

Cohesion funds in Slovenia have to address the long-standing challenges of sparsely populated mountain regions, such as poor public amenities and services, mobility infrastructure, job opportunities and education. In his resolution on demographic trends in EU regions and cohesion funds, the European Parliament pointed out that “the lack of diversification in the regional economic structure of certain regions risks creating a negative ‘label’, resulting in the emergence of a ” geography of discontent” where citizens feel left behind. Therefore, particular attention should be given to younger generations, in order to counter current drivers of disparities and foster quality of life and a positive economic outlook. In addition, these considerable investments should contribute to increasing territorial attractiveness by stimulating skilled jobs, rural entrepreneurship and equality.

Among the five strategic objectives of the cohesion policy, the coupling of the resources available under “A greener Europe” (Objective 2) and “A Europe closer to the citizens” (Objective 5) offers a double opportunity for the future of the mountains by favoring inclusive and sustainable local development, in harmony with the natural environment. Although Slovenia National Reform Program 2022 does not specifically mention the term “mountain areas”, the funds available under objective 2 help to contribute to the construction of environmental infrastructure and the preservation of biodiversity in the country, while those from Goal 5 will focus on promoting economic growth in urban and rural areas and reducing disparities. In synergy and complementarity with the planned investments of the Cohesion Funds, Slovenia is authorized to delegate part of the resources from the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the Common Agricultural Policy for the achievement of the objective.

Certainly, interventions should be based on an integrated strategy drafted in consultation with local communities and stakeholders, to reflect and address both the characteristics and vulnerabilities of the ecosystem, in addition to the need to go beyond beyond the seasonal approach to mountain tourism. The Slovenian National Reform Program indicates that the government has committed to spend by the end of next year all the cohesion funds received in the previous budgetary framework (2014-2020) and, in the meantime, to work on the current financial period (2021-2027) .

Overall, in the presence of a clear territorial vision and in line with the Union’s priorities on green and digital transitions, cohesion funds can become a catalyst for the repopulation and rejuvenation of the country’s mountainous areas.

This content is published as part of the “Work4Future” project co-funded by the European Union (EU). The EU is in no way responsible for the information or opinions expressed within the framework of the project. Responsibility for the content rests exclusively with OBC Transeuropa. Go to “Work4Future”

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