Ljubljana, 17 October 2013 – The capital of Slovenia hosted the 3rd international conference Ljubljana Forum which was attended by nearly 60 lecturers in the field of spatial planning, economy, politics and research as well as representatives of government and non-governmental organisations. The participants also discussed managing water and transport in the Danube region, they also focused on the topical issues and challenges for the future Cohesion Policy in the 2014-2020 period, the latter being the subject of the address given by the Minister, responsible for economic development and technology, Stanko Stepišnik, MSc.
The Minister said that the Government of the Republic of Slovenia pursues the objectives outlined by the European Union in the Strategy Europe 2020. “This is a strategy of green growth which offers concrete business opportunities for overcoming the crisis in a sustainable way. In doing so it is of key importance to generate ideas, inventions and commercially successful innovations. The waves of innovations which combine technological progress with collective changes in the perception, way of thinking and behaviour are the main driving force of structural changes. We needs innovations because the current patterns or production and consumption are not sustainable in the long run and need to be changed by enhancing the efficiency of the use of resources” said Minister Stepišnik, MSc. He believes that a shift from the present linear economy – where we do mining, where we produce, use and dispose – to circular economy – where the waste of one industry become the raw material for another industry –is crucial.
As was outlined by the Minister, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MEDT) is in the process of drafting the programming documents for the next 7-year period –Strategy for Smart Specialisation, Slovenia’s Development Strategy, Partnership Agreement and Operational Programme. These documents will serve as a basis for the absorption of the European Cohesion Policy funds in the period 2014-2020. In this period Slovenia will be eligible to 3.3 billion euros and the documents are and will be subject to a wide public consultation. “We do not want the documents to remain unimplemented. Smart strategy is not enough, what we also need is smart implementation” said Stanko Stepišnik, MSc.
The Minister said that Slovenia will focus the funds on the areas with the greatest impact on growth and jobs. At least fifty per cent of the funds will be allocated for the promotion of the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, enhancing research, technological development and innovation as well as employment, mainly employment of young people.
On the basis of the analysis of the activities and consultations the Strategy for Smart Specialisation also defines the internationally competitive strategic areas where Slovenia has the knowledge, competence and capacities in the economy and knowledge institutions, namely, the development of new materials and technologies; manufacturing, process and information-communication technology; solutions for electric and electronic components and devices. Minister Stanko Stepišnik, MSc said that the projects in these fields will have to follow the social challenges in the field of sustainable energy, sustainable construction as well as sustainable mobility, efficient use of resources, health, food, environment, inclusive and safe society. The Minister believes that the objectives can be realised if all the stakeholders participate in the process of their implementation.