After taking over the presidency of the Visegrad Group, Poland hosted a ministerial meeting entitled “Cohesion policy and new European challenges”, where the ministers discussed the field of cohesion as well as the functioning of the internal EU market. This was the first meeting connecting the cohesion policy directly to economy and competitiveness. The Polish Presidency has thus opened up a debate on topics such as efficient functioning of the internal market, which would strengthen the competitiveness of areas whose development is lagging behind.
The Slovenian ministers expressed support for the joint efforts of the Visegrad Group and other participating states to overcome the obstacles in the internal market, and a joint support to the strong cohesion policy without which the structurally less developed areas cannot fulfil their development potentials.
Minister Počivalšek encouraged the participants of the conference to consider the possibility of organising such meetings more often. “Polish priorities are not just the priorities of the V4 states. I believe that it is our common goal to support innovativeness and competitiveness in the economy, including start-ups, as well as the strategy for a single market for goods and services,” said Počivalšek and emphasised the importance of economic cooperation between Slovenia and the Visegrad Group states: “Hungary is Slovenia’s sixth most important foreign trading partner. Czech Republic is ninth, Poland seventh, and Slovakia fifteenth.”
In her speech, Minister Alenka Smerkolj focused on the future of the cohesion policy and its key challenges. She emphasised the importance of cooperation between V4+4 ministers in improving the visibility of the cohesion policy, which consolidates its position as one of the key EU investment policies by achieving results and effectively addressing the development challenges. “The European Union has clear priorities and puts a lot of effort to make them even stronger. It is vital that the investments under the cohesion policy are directly linked to these priorities,” she added.