Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with Slovenian Prime Minister Golob

Thank you very much, Prime Minister, dear Robert, for taking me to Črna.

It is so important to see, firsthand and with my own eyes, the massive impact of this disaster. It was heartbreaking to see the devastation that the rain and the flooding and the mudslides have caused. We feel with the victims, we mourn those who have lost their lives. But it was also heartwarming to see the enormous solidarity of people and their confidence and their courage. I met people who stood together and stand together in the most difficult times; volunteers from all walks of life; a government that reacted swiftly immediately and worked closely with the authorities and the municipalities; the army, the police, the civil protection, the firefighters, the Red Cross, the mountain rescuers, just to name a few, who really showed that solidarity is one of the outstanding virtues of the Slovenian people.

And I am here today to let Slovenia and the Slovenian people know that Europe stands by your side. We were with you in the first days, immediately with the material that was needed. It is the mobile bridges, the excavators, the helicopters, the technical team and the crews. Of course, we will stay as long as it is necessary. It was also impressive to see the contributions of the Member States. I met French, Germans, Austrians and Croatians, just to name a few, that were working in Črna. But of course, European solidarity is also needed when it comes to financial support.

I discussed today with the Prime Minister a package of three components, for the immediate needs but also for the mid and long term. A lot of investment has to be done for the recovery of this country.

This package consists of, first of all, the Solidarity Fund. And here, we will make accessible EUR 400 million – EUR 100 million of them still this year and EUR 300 million next year. Here, as always, time is of the essence. So we need the request of Slovenia and a first damage assessment so that we can start with the disbursement.

The second element is NextGenerationEU. Besides the funds that Slovenia is already using and has programmed, there are still EUR 2.7 billion accessible. Slovenia can request them. Here too, time is of the essence because this request has to be done until the end of August. Therefore, the Prime Minister and I agreed to immediately, as of today, create a Task Force between Slovenia and the Commission to immediately work on the administrative requirements to make sure that these EUR 2.7 billion are accessible for Slovenia for investment.

Then there is the third element, this is existing and already programmed money that can be reprogrammed. These are EUR 3.3 billion of cohesion funds. This lasts until 2027. So we have a good package of immediate support, of medium-term and long-term support for the reconstruction and recovery of Slovenia.

All in all, I must say that Slovenia is an outstanding example for a country, a member of the European Union, our friend, that has always been responsive immediately when others were in need. We know that from the Italian flooding or, for example, your Croatian neighbour's earthquake. Now, Slovenia needs help. And of course, we stand by our friend, we stand by Slovenia. Slovenia can count on Europe.

Thank you very much for bringing me here today. It was very important for me to have an impression of the impact of the flooding and of the common work that is ahead of us.