In the year 2021, Slovenia continued to draw European Union funds and was already four percentage points above the EU average, but then something apparently went wrong. Official statistics from the European Commission show that Slovenia has not yet met any of the reform milestones that are among the conditions for funding the recovery plan. Well, there is no denying it – the government is doing a great job, especially now that it has 20 ministries.
“This is an official statistic of the European Commission, according to which Slovenia has not yet met any of the reform milestones that are among the conditions for the financing of the recovery plan,” Peter Žerjavič, a correspondent of the Delo newspaper recently wrote on Twitter, adding that many other countries are also in trouble and have not yet drawn even a fifth of the funds. Countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden have also not met the milestones or targets that they should have – but these countries were not particularly interested in the fast-track funding back in 2020 when the 800-billion-euro package was being negotiated.
As early as mid-August 2022, the media reported that Slovenia had fallen from 4th to 11th among all EU Member States in the absorption of 2014-2020 ESIF funds since April – so in just four months – and that Slovenia’s absorption was clearly lagging behind the EU average for the Cohesion Fund, which is particularly concerned with co-financing major infrastructure projects in the environment, transport and energy sectors. However, it was also evident that 2020 was the first year in the 2014-2020 programming period when Slovenia managed to break into the EU-27 average and has even been above average in the absorption of funds since then, the media outlet Slovenec wrote.
One of the key features of the Recovery and Resilience Fund is its performance-based nature, according to the ec.europa website. The Recovery and Resilience Fund is disbursed when Member States have satisfactorily completed key steps in implementing the reforms and investments included in their Recovery and Resilience Plans. These key implementation steps are called milestones and targets. Milestones represent a qualitative implementation step, and targets represent a quantitative implementation step. The milestones and targets to be achieved by each Member State are set out in the EU Council’s Implementing Decision. For the milestones and targets to be satisfactorily met, Member States should complete the relevant reform and investment steps and send the relevant evidence to the European Commission, which then has to give the Member State in question a positive assessment.