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MEPs raise concern over Janša’s failure to appoint prosecutors to EPPO and attacks on the media

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Prime Minister Slovenia Janez Janša

Prime Minister Slovenia Janez Janša attended the plenary session of the European Parliament at the start of Slovenia’s six month presidency. The presidency will focus on the timely implementation of the Next Generation EU stimulus package, on facilitating the adoption of national recovery plans and on the Conference on the Future of Europe. MEPs used the occasion to raise concern over press freedom in Slovenia and the failure by the government to appoint two prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s office (EPPO). 

Janša said that he was sorry that there was a delay, but this doesn't mean that Slovenia is withdrawing from this mechanism: “Actually, we would like all member states to participate in the EPPO. We believe that this is a necessary mechanism for the good supervision of European funds and that it is in our common interest.” He said that the delays were due to procedural complications linked to the appointment of a new Minister of Justice and that prosecutors would be appointed by Autumn. 

Janša's government canceled the nomination of two prosecutors (to be approved by the European Public Prosecutor's Office) prompting the resignation of Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič. In a statement, European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi wrote: “The manifest lack of sincere cooperation of the Slovenian authorities with the EPPO seriously undermines the trust in the effective functioning of the management and control systems for EU funds in Slovenia."

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MEPs also raised concerns over media freedom, citing the Reporters Without Borders 2020 report where it reported that the Prime Minister’s party the SDS has: “Stepped up its campaign of smears and threats against journalists, both on social media and in media outlets, some of which are now owned by KESMA, the foundation in charge of a network of pro-government media outlets in Hungary. The high level of media ownership concentration in Slovenia is weakening pluralism and encouraging self-censorship.”

Janša replied that journalists just didn’t understand the language and that they should not believe what they were being told. He said that journalists should come to Slovenia for a week, with an interpreter to see the attitude of the government towards the press. 

Ahead of the Slovenian presidency, Reporters Without Borders called on EU states to be vigilant with regards to any attempts by Janša to obstruct efforts to strengthen media freedom in Europe: “Ever since coming into power in March 2020, the Prime Minister Janez Janša and his government have shown disregard for media freedom. They have frequently attacked the Slovenian and international journalists on social networks, attempted to undermine the editorial and financial independence of the public television RTV SLO and arbitrarily suspended the funding of the national press agency STA. The critical media are pressured by the discriminatory distribution of government advertising, while Slovenia boasts one of the most egregious examples of abusive lawsuits known as SLAPPs filed, among others, by an individual with close links to Janez Janša. 

“An ally of Viktor Orban, the Slovenian Prime Minister has taken his country down the path of the Hungarian regime. This decline is reflected in Slovenia’s falling by 4 places to the 36th spot in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders in 2021.”

Climate change

Commission adopts new guidance on how to protect future infrastructure projects against climate change

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The European Commission has published new technical guidance on climate protection of infrastructure projects for the period 2021-2027. These guidelines will allow climate considerations to be integrated into future investments and the development of infrastructure projects, whether they are buildings, network infrastructure or a series of systems and built assets. In this way, European institutional and private investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU's climate objectives.

The guidelines adopted will help the EU to implement the European Green Deal, to apply the instructions of the European climate law and to contribute to greener EU spending. They are part of the perspective of a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of -55% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050; they respect the principles of ‘primacy of energy efficiency 'and‘ not to cause significant harm'; and they meet the requirements set out in the legislation for several EU funds such as InvestEU, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF ) and the Just Transition Fund (FTJ).

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European Commission

EU Cohesion policy: Commission adopts €21 billion Greek Partnership Agreement for 2021-2027

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The Commission has adopted the first Partnership Agreement for the 2021-2027 programming period for Greece, the first EU country to submit its strategic reference document for deploying more than €21 billion of investments for its economic, social and territorial cohesion. The Partnership Agreement lays out the strategy and investment priorities to be addressed via the Cohesion policy funds and the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF). These funds will support key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition and will contribute to develop a competitive, innovative and export-oriented growth model for the country.

Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (pictured), said: “I am pleased to approve the Greek Partnership Agreement for 2021-2027, the first EU country to have submitted it to the Commission. This is a political contract that translates European solidarity into national priorities and investment plans aimed at making our member states future-proof, while correcting the internal disparities. The Commission is working shoulder to shoulder with all member states to make sure that the next programming period works for all regions and all citizens wherever they are. A more cohesive growth model is possible with stronger and more resilient economies and societies. It is time to make internal disparities history.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “I trust that the strategies and investment priorities outlined in this Partnership Agreement will help build prosperous and sustainable fishing and aquaculture in Greece and a thriving blue economy that plays a crucial role in supporting coastal communities and delivering a green transition.”

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In total, the Partnership Agreement comprises 22 programmes: 13 regional and 9 national. The 13 regional programmes (combine European Regional and Development Fund - ERDF and European Social Fund Plus) and correspond to each administrative region in Greece. Greece is strongly committed to the coordinated use of the Cohesion policy funds with the Recovery and Resilience Facility. A new Capacity Building programme will also facilitate the project preparation process and help strengthen the administrative and organisational capacity of beneficiaries and authorities.

A green and digital economy

Greece has planned significant investments - 30% of the ERDF and 55% of the Cohesion Fund - in energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emissions, as well as in waste and water management measures. The development of sustainable public transport will be pursued in Attica and Thessaloniki and expanded to further agglomerations throughout the country. Moreover, a new governance mechanism will allow more investments in the protection of biodiversity. Greece has also taken a strong political commitment of closing down all the lignite power plants by 2028, thus contributing significantly to the EU and national climate neutrality targets. Finally, the Partnership Agreement marks a shift away from the road investments in favour of multi-modal and more sustainable modes of transport.

More social cohesion

Promotion of social cohesion stands high on the agenda through investments in employment, quality and inclusive education and training, green and digital skills as well as high-quality social inclusion services, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. The delivery of investments will be accompanied by key reforms, as well as capacity building mechanisms for beneficiaries and public administration.

A holistic approach to the fisheries, aquaculture and maritime sectors

Greece will invest in a holistic approach in the fisheries, aquaculture and maritime sectors to enable the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the European Green Deal, the EU Strategic Guidelines for sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture, and the EU Communication on Sustainable Blue Economy.

The Partnership Agreement specifies how the Greek fisheries, aquaculture and blue economy sectors, as well as coastal communities, will be supported. The main aim being to promote resilience and the green and digital transitions, 35% of the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund resources will be allocated to mainstreaming climate objectives.

A digital economy and society

Priority will be given to strategic investments in both infrastructure and soft measures related to digitalisation of companies and public services and the upgrade of digital skills across the population. More than 38% of the ERDF funds will support research, innovation and development of small and medium-sized enterprises, based on a new and improved national/regional smart specialisation strategy.

Background

Within the Cohesion policy, each Member State has to prepare a Partnership Agreement in cooperation with the Commission. Linked to the EU priorities, this is a reference document for programming investments from the Cohesion policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It defines the strategy and investment priorities chosen by the Member State and presents a list of national and regional programmes which it aims to implement, as well as an indicative annual financial allocation for each programme.

More information

2021-2027 long-term EU budget & NextGenerationEU

Questions and Answers

Cohesion Open Data Platform

Breakdown of Cohesion policy allocations per member state

@ElisaFerreiraEC

@EUinmyRegion    

@VSinkevicius

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Education

Global Education Summit: Team Europe pledges leading contribution of €1.7 billion to the Global Partnership for Education

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At the Global Education Summit in London, the European Union and its Member States, as Team Europe, pledged €1.7 billion to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to help transform education systems for more than one billion girls and boys in up to 90 countries and territories. This represents the biggest contribution to the GPE. The EU had already announced its  €700 million pledge for 2021-2027 in June.

The EU was represented at the summit by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen. Their interventions highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children's education worldwide, and the determination of the EU and its member states to act.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Education is the most basic infrastructure for human development. Reading, writing, math, logic, digital skills, understanding our life. No matter on which continent you live. Education should be a truly universal right. That is why the European Union invests in international cooperation for education more than the rest of the world combined. And we are stepping up efforts in these extraordinary times.”

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International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: “We have committed not to allow COVID-19 to reverse decades of progress in improving access to education and our acts follow words. With €1.7bn pledged to date, Team Europe is proud to be a leading donor of the Global Partnership for Education and support free, inclusive, equitable and quality education for all. Education is an accelerator of progress towards all Sustainable Development Goals and will have a central role in the recovery. Together with all our partners, we can ensure that every child has the chance to learn and succeed.”

Team Europe for global education

EU support to education is focused on ensuring quality, equality and equity, and on matching skills and jobs. This means in particular:

  • Investing in well-trained and motivated teachers that can equip children with the right mix of skills needed in the 21st century. At least 69 million new teachers will have to be recruited by 2030 for primary and secondary education, including more than 17 million in Africa.
  • Investing in equality, and in particular promoting girls' education and leveraging the potential of digital innovations. Educating and empowering girls is a key aspect of the EU Gender Action Plan III, which aims to curb the rise of inequalities in the context of the pandemic, and accelerate progress on gender equality and women's empowerment.
  • Investing in skills for the future, to prepare future professionals, business leaders and decision-makers for the green and the digital transformation.

The Team Europe approach of the EU and its member states creates scale, coordination, and focus that help maximisze joint impact in providing education opportunities for every child.

Background

The Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025

The Global Education Summit is a replenishment conference for the GPE, the only global partnership for education that brings together representatives of all education stakeholder groups including partner countries, donors, international organizations, civil society groups, foundations and the private sector.

The GPE, hosted by the World Bank, provides financial support to low-income and lower-middle-income countries — especially those with high numbers of out-of-school children and significant gender disparities. Most funding is allocated to Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2014-20, the EU and its member states accounted for more than half of all contributions to the GPE.

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Education: EU increases its commitment to Global Partnership for Education with a pledge of €700m for 2021-2027

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