The State Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure Jure Leben has completed talks at the European Commission regarding the Divača—Koper Second Track project. He described the discussions as successful, since the Commission will sign an addendum guaranteeing funds in the amount of 44.3 million euros for preparation work.
These EU funds, which are earmarked for the initial studies and the first phase of the construction work, were not the subject of the recent Supreme Court decision, which annulled the referendum about the Second Track Act. The legislation defines the financial structure of the project.
Leben did not answer questions regarding the date of the preparation work. According to plans, the work is scheduled to begin in late April. Leben believes that the timetable could be realized, but more information will be made available next week.
Leben added that, according to the deal with the Commission, the 109 million euros for the upgrade of the Koper—Divača Second Track, which would have been made available based on a public tender using “blended finance,” will remain suspended until the official results of the referendum are published. He added that the people of Slovenia need to take part in the referendum and vote in favor of the act in order for the funds to become available. If the referendum results in a “no” vote, new talks with the Commission will need to take place. The financial construction will be finalized a year after the signing of the contract that will take place if the referendum results in a “yes” vote, said Leben.
On Tuesday, the Commission stated that it considers Slovenia to be a trustworthy partner and that it supports the continuation of the Second Track project, added Leben.
When asked about Hungary’s possible involvement in the project, Leben explained that Slovenia and Hungary are currently coordinating the dates of their talks, which can continue. However, the government, whose work is currently limited to everyday affairs, will not be able to initial an agreement. Instead, it will only be able to prepare a report, leaving it up to the next government to decide how to proceed.