29 March 2023 – Donor States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and Slovenia held the fifth EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021 Annual Meeting, which took place in Postojna, Slovenia, to discuss the state of play of individual programmes, and to ensure efficient spending of the funds available under the EEA and Norway Grants.
In his opening address, dr. Aleksander Jevšek, Minister of Cohesion and Regional Development, said that he was delighted that Slovenia had come to a point of fully implementing all projects and programmes planned in the frame of the current funding period. “Indeed, the EEA and Norway Grants, in addition to the available EU cohesion policy funds, make an important source of funding that supports Slovenia’s development. I am convinced that all projects that are currently being implemented will, in the end, make a significant contribution to realising the set objectives and to making positive shifts in the areas that are of strategic importance not only for Slovenia but also beyond our borders. I am convinced that in the years to come, we will further strengthen our cooperation and continue learning from each other,” said Minister Jevšek.
Trine Skymoen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Hungary, thanked everyone for the excellent cooperation and dedication to making the EEA and Norway Grants a success. She pointed out that the two financial mechanisms foster the continuation of fruitful collaboration between Norway and Slovenia. Kristín A. Árnadóttir, Ambassador of Iceland, also thanked everyone for the excellent cooperation and outlined the best practices of the past bilateral cooperation. She presented the areas Iceland believes should be supported in the next financial period.
Presentation of reports and the implementation of programmes
In the first part of the meeting, the Combined Strategic and Annual Report for 2022 was presented. The representative of the Financial Mechanisms Office presented the Active Citizens Fund, the programme Social Dialogue – Decent Work, and two horizontal funds, namely the Fund for Regional Development and the Fund for Youth Employment, underlining the importance of the cooperation of the Slovenian institutions. Programme Operator of the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme and the programme Education, Scholarship, Apprenticeship and Youth Entrepreneurship reported on the implementation of both programmes and projects. The Budget Supervision Office of the Republic of Slovenia presented its work and the Audit Report. The representatives of the Donor States welcomed Slovenia’s progress over the last few months regarding the implementation of projects, inviting Slovenia to continue with the successful performance of projects.
The bilateral initiative Supporting the Green Start-Ups of Tomorrow, implemented in the framework of the Fund for Bilateral Relations by the Primorska Technology Park in cooperation with three Norwegian partners (Oslo Science Park – STARTUPLAB, Insj UIO and Park Hamar – Learning HUB), was also presented. The main long-term goal of the initiative is to find new ways to empower today’s youth to make full use of tomorrow’s opportunities by creating environmentally sustainable and socially responsible jobs.
Presentation of projects
In the second part of the meeting, three projects were presented. The representatives of the municipality of Postojna presented the local project Predjama Sustainable, which aims to introduce sustainable solutions and arrangements in the field of mobility. Currently, visitors to Predjama cause heavy traffic, which burdens and disturbs the local people and the environment.
The representatives of the Soča Valley Development Centre and the Norwegian partner Viken County Council presented the project ReMOBIL, which focuses on developing a model and testing six regional mobility centres. They also discussed why bilateral cooperation should be encouraged.
Representative of KUD Center 21 presented the project The Guardians of Rivers, which is implemented in the framework of the Active Citizens Fund. The project’s main aim is to increase public awareness about the importance of protecting natural and human environments, especially watercourses, and promote active citizenship in this field.