Slovenia receives 100 million euros from EU Solidarity Fund to tackle consequences of floods
Brussels/Ljubljana (STA) – The European Commission has approved an advance of 100 million euros from the EU Solidarity Fund for the reconstruction of Slovenia following the August floods. The country’s Minister for Cohesion and Regional Development Aleksander Jevšek described this as very good news.
As the Commission explained, the EU Solidarity Fund would be used for the recovery and reconstruction after the August floods, including the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure, the implementation of measures to protect cultural heritage affected by the storm, the clean-up of the affected areas and intervention costs.
“This is very good news, especially for those who suffered the most damage during the floods and for those of us who were preparing the Solidarity Fund application, which had to be done in a relatively short time,” said Jevšek.
Slovenia sent its application to Brussels on 20 October. While the advance payment does not require the approval of the EU Council and the European Parliament, it will need to be approved before the expected additional 300 million euros can be disbursed. The government was expecting a decision in March or April, the minister said.
Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion, stressed that the EU stood by Slovenia. This is a “testament to the fact that this advance payment of 100 million euros is the maximum mobilised to date under the EUSF,” she said. (29 November)
Schengen enlargement not on the agenda at JHA Council on 4-5 December
Bucharest (Agerpres) – Schengen enlargement was not going to be discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council in early December, because the Netherlands had not officially expressed its position on Bulgaria after the recent elections, Romanian Interior Minister Cătălin Predoiu said.
“The Dutch government, which had a position on Bulgaria last year, is to take a position in parliament and parliament is to decide on the matter. This procedure in the Dutch Parliament coincides with the date of the JHA Council. It is impossible to discuss the issue in the JHA Council on 4-5 December until the Dutch government has clarified its position on Bulgaria,” explained Predoiu. He did not rule out that the issue could be put on the agenda of another JHA meeting in December.
At the same time, Predoiu stressed that over the last year “Romania has achieved a remarkable performance” in terms of border protection. “All the figures of illegal migration have decreased, at all borders, especially at the western border, where it was a problem. The border with Serbia has seen a decrease in illegal migration figures by up to 90 percent.”
In this context, the minister said that “there is no longer any official position of any European member state that questions Romania’s performance in fighting illegal migration and protecting the border.” (29 November)
EU clamps down on migrant smugglers, Von der Leyen launches global alliance
Brussels (ANSA) – The European Commission has launched a new crackdown on migrant smugglers to further strengthen the surveillance of external borders. The underlying strategy still is to primarily stop irregular flows at the source and, secondarily, to prevent entries. Brussels and Rome seem to be in full agreement regarding this strategy, and it constitutes the framework for the international conference for the Global Alliance against Traffickers convened in the Belgian capital.
“We have to build a systemic response,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, adding that “we also need a Global Alliance” against traffickers. She said that the best way to save lives was to prevent these people from embarking on the journey. According to her, this requires close cooperation with international agencies and, above all, partnerships with third countries.
The summit had been announced by the President of the Commission in her State of the Union address. Representatives from 57 countries arrived in the Belgian capital this week: from Europe to South-East Asia, from North Africa (although the Tunisian minister was absent) to the Balkans. (28 November)
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