The Slovenian High level seminar took place on Ljubljana, November 14th 2014. It was moderated by Polona Lah. As all the participants have many years of experience in projects of ETC programmes the exchange of ideas was vivid and fruitful. Main topics have arisen. The main conclusions are described below.

- ETC projects “broaden horizons”
Participants who are or have ever been in the role of decision makers reported that ETC projects often bring new knowledge in municipalities, ministries and other public bodies. Usually only a few people at municipalities or ministries are aware of the new methods and practice being (or started to being) used across EU. They find it hard to pass this knowledge and ideas to their colleges. But when a certain municipality or ministry participates in the ETC project that whole “climate” of the public body very often changes. Decision makers, who are taking a direct role in ETC projects, gain new knowledge and adopt new perspectives of their colleagues from abroad.

- The importance of municipalities participation in ETC projects
Participants agreed that in order to successfully implement a project it is essential to have at least one municipality which implements and tests certain methods developed by the project. Without a “pilot municipality” ETS project is just another set of theoretical solutions that are very likely to be forgotten after the project is finished. But with the “pilot municipality” the results are tangible and therefore more likely to be capitalized in the future.

- Obstacles for participating in ETS projects
However, Slovene municipalities find it hard to participate in ETS projects as partners. The reasons identified at the seminar were:

• lack of staff (even if a certain ETS project is approved that gives a municipality no mandate to hire new employees; the whole burden of the project implementation falls on the already existing staff)
• changes of staff (at the time of the elections (every four years) many municipalities go through a major staff changes)
• lack of experts (regarding urban development, there has been a research on the background of staff working in the spatial planning departments of the municipalities; the results are pretty alarming as most of the staff has absolutely inappropriate expert knowledge to manage spatial planning in urban areas)
• fear of cofinancing (even though ETC programmes finance large portions of the projects (MED finances 85%) finding the other 15% can be quite a challenge for a municipalitiy)
• majors prefer quick and visible solutions (while ETS projects usually bring intangible and long-term results)

- One of the possible solutions (already being implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning) is to include municipalities in projects in clusters. Namely, in Slovenia there is no official regional level (only the national and local one). Therefore municipalities are small and unable to handle large projects, like ETS projects. But if several municipalities are included in one ETS project (the ministry has so for done it via regional development agencies) than the projects tasks and financial risks are spread and the results are better. A least these are the observations of the representative of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.

- Quality of ETS projects
A lot has been said about the quality of ETS projects. Especially to what extent do ETS projects results contribute towards the national goals. There are some good practices. For example Institut "Jozef Stefan" Institute - Energy Efficiency Centre has capitalized the results of ETS project Elih MED by including its findings and conclusions into the Slovene Action Plan for Energy Efficiency. Similarly, the results of Attract-SEE will be part of the new Slovenia's Development Strategy 2014-2020.

However, too many ETS projects never end up being useful for national goals. Many participants had to admit that too often the main reason for participating in the European project is financing (ensuring money for salaries). Participants described situations when it was very difficult to influence the content of the projects. Usually they are being invited to participate in the project “in the last minute” and have to face the already elaborated project aims and goals. All they can do is contribute to certain sections of the project application while the topics that would really be relevant for Slovene situation are often left out.

- Slovene FLC should become more efficient
Slovene first level control (FLC) has approximately half a year of a delay. This is a big threat for Slovene institutions to become an “undesired” partner in ETS projects. Participants agreed that if FLC is unable to process all the work that needs to be done than hiring an external company could be a good solution.

The agenda was the following:

10.00 – 10.15
ETS Programmes and goals of cooperation
Nadja Kobe, Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy
10.15 – 10.30
Future of Cohesion Politics in a new programming area (2014 – 2020)
Marjana Dermelj, Ministry for Economic Development and Technology
10.30 – 10.45
EU sustainable energy politics – synergies with ETS programmes
Damir Staničić, "Jožef Stefan" Institute - Energy Efficiency Centre
10.45 – 11.00
Urban Empathy and SUMO toolki
Aleš Podgornik, Institut "Jozef Stefan" Institute - Energy Efficiency Centre

D I S CU S S I O N    (11.00 – 13-00)
»Mainstreaming« of the projects of ETC programmes – basis for the discussion:
• Self-presentation of participants
• Do you participate in ETC projects and how can the results of these projects help you with your work?
• Are you familiar with and do you use the results of ETS projects in which you haven't been directly involved?
• Suggestions for recognisability and capitalization of the results of ETS projects.



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