Slovenia struggles to recover from floods as EU funds fall short

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Slovenia is facing a long and costly recovery process after being hit by the worst floods in its history, which killed at least six people and caused more than half a billion euros in damage.

The floods, triggered by torrential rains and landslides, affected two-thirds of the country, submerging towns and villages, destroying roads and bridges, and cutting off access to some areas.

The Slovenian government declared a state of emergency and appealed for international assistance through the EU and NATO mechanisms. It also allocated 10 million euros of humanitarian aid to the Slovenian Red Cross and Caritas Slovenia to help the residents of the affected areas.

However, the EU funds available to Slovenia under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the bloc’s main instrument to support the post-pandemic recovery, are not enough to cover the costs of the reconstruction.

Slovenia is expected to receive 2.5 billion euros from the RRF, of which 1.8 billion are grants and 705 million are loans. The European Commission has endorsed Slovenia’s recovery and resilience plan, which focuses on green and digital transition, health care, education and social inclusion.

However, only 13% of the total amount, or 231 million euros, has been disbursed so far. The rest will be paid out in installments based on the achievement of milestones and targets set out in the plan.

The Slovenian government has said that it will use part of the RRF funds for sustainable mobility and digital transformation projects that were affected by the floods. However, it will also have to find other sources of financing, such as issuing bonds or raising taxes, to cope with the unprecedented disaster.

Some experts have suggested that Slovenia could apply for additional funds from the EU Solidarity Fund, which provides financial assistance to member states in the event of major natural disasters. However, this would require meeting certain criteria and thresholds, as well as obtaining approval from the European Parliament and the Council.

Meanwhile, some neighboring countries have offered their help to Slovenia. Croatia has provided a military helicopter to secure a broken levee on the Mura River. Austria has sent water pumps and generators. Hungary has offered rescue teams and equipment. Italy has expressed its solidarity and readiness to cooperate.

The Slovenian people have also shown their resilience and solidarity in the face of adversity. Many volunteers have joined the clean-up operations and donated money, food and clothing to those in need.

The Slovenian government has vowed to do everything in its power to ensure that the money reaches the most vulnerable and that people are not left alone. It has also pledged to rebuild better and more sustainably, in line with the EU’s green and digital goals.

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