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Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-06-04 09:03:30
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Slovenia austerity program comes to force

Slovenia’s government will continue with its austerity measures to cut the budget deficit after a trade union said it will challenge some of the moves at the Constitutional Court.  Lawmakers in Ljubljana on May 11 adopted a revised budget and other savings measures that foresee public-sector wage cuts and reduced benefit payments as the euro-region nation seeks to implement the so-called fiscal compact inspired by Germany.  The union representing soldiers and other employees at the Defense Ministry will ask the Constitutional Court to decide on the matter “due to unjust and unconstitutional provisions in the austerity legislation,” the group said yesterday in an e- mailed statement.

“This is just a first step,” the Finance Ministry in Ljubljana said today in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg questions. “Now we will focus on pension and labour market changes, on easing the burden for the economy via the creation of a wealth fund, as well as healing of the banking industry.”  Slovenia, whose public debt more than doubled since the 2007 introduction of the euro, pledged to cut spending by about 800 million Euros ($994 million) this year to win investors’ confidence over the sustainability of its debt load as the crisis in Europe intensifies on concern that Spain may be the next country to ask for a bailout.

The economy grew 0.2 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, exiting a recession as demand outweighed a drop in investments, the statistics office said today.  Two police unions yesterday dropped their demand to organize a referendum on the austerity package after reaching an agreement with the government. A referendum would have delayed the implementation of the measures, according to Finance Minister Janez Sustersic.


Slovenia plans wealth fund to streamline state-asset management

Slovenia plans to create a sovereign- wealth fund by merging agencies that are managing state assets to boost revenue from their investments.  “The aim is to streamline the management of state assets and make them more efficient,” Finance Minister Janez Sustersic told reporters in Ljubljana today. “We will later decide which just portfolio investments, which are strategic are and we want to keep and which companies will be sold.”

The fund will report to the lawmakers while profits will be used to finance pensions and the budget, Sustersic said. The plan is to merge five different agencies with total assets estimated at more than 10 billion Euros ($12.54 billion), Finance newspaper reported yesterday.

Slovenia, the first post-communist nation to adopt the euro in 2007, wants to earn more from state-owned companies as it seeks to reduce budget spending and enact the so-called fiscal compact inspired by Germany. Slovenia’s export-driven economy is in its second recession in three years and is forecast to shrink 2 percent this year, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.


European biotic park

As regards biodiversity and landscape diversity, Slovenia is at the very top in the world; therefore, Slovenia can justly be called a “European biotic park”. More than 22,000 animal and plant species rank Slovenia among the nature richest countries in Europe. In a small space Slovenia offers an exceptional mosaic of biotic, landscape and cultural diversity and people who in constant contact with nature have become aware of the inevitable interdependence of humans and nature. Establishment of protected areas is among the most important mechanisms for preserving plant and animal species and their habitats. Nature parks, which are predominantly a nature conservation category, are also a management mechanism for protecting nature, managing NATURA 2000 and preserving landscape diversity. Currently, 12.5% of Slovenia’s territory is protected by various protection categories, while 35.5% of its territory is protected within NATURA 2000. Protected areas partly overlap with NATURA 2000 protected areas; they cover a smaller area than NATURA 2000 areas, but have a higher level of organisation with elaborated management plans and managers. Protected areas include one national park, three regional parks, 45 landscape parks, one strict nature reserve, 56 nature reserves and 1,217 nature monuments that are protected with national or municipal acts. The last protected area established in 2012 was the Radensko polje landscape park, while establishment of the Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe regional park is being prepared.
NATURA 2000 is a European network of ecologically important areas that are determined on the basis of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Slovenia has 109 species of birds from the Birds Directive as well as 61 types of habitats important for Europe and 140 species of plants and animals from the lists in the Habitats Directive. On this basis 26 areas for protecting endangered bird species were determined, which is 25% of Slovenia’s territory. In addition, 260 areas were proposed for protection of endangered or rare plant and animal species and habitats, which is 32% of Slovenia’s territory. Areas partly overlap, so total NATURA 2000 area covers just over 35% (7,202 km2) of Slovenia’s territory. Around 70% of Slovenia’s NATURA area is covered by forest, which shows that it is generally well preserved.

In addition to playing an important ecological role, forests are also habitats of many plant and animal species, protect settlements and infrastructure, prevent landslides in mountainous areas and protect the quality of water. This is why forests are among the most important ecosystems. In addition, they play a vital role in maintaining stable climatic conditions and the situation in the environment. Forests and other wooded areas cover more than 40% of the EU. As regards Slovenia, in 2010 forests covered 59% of its territory. Enlargement of European forest areas exceeds the loss of forest areas on account of infrastructure and urban areas. In 2010 forests covered 42% of total EU area. Of all European forests, around 20 million hectares (13% of total EU-27 area) is in protected areas. The most extensive protected forest areas are located in Italy, Germany and Spain (in total more than 8 million hectares or almost 42% of total protected forest areas in the EU-27). As regards the total area of protected forests, which are primarily intended for protection and preservation of biodiversity, and natural and cultural resources within protected areas, in 2010 Slovenia was ranked among EU Member States with less extensive protected forest areas: 241,000 hectares or 1% of total area of protected forest areas in the EU-27. In 2010 Slovenia had 9,600 hectares of forest reserves, which are left for natural development and are especially important for preserving biodiversity. In 2010 land areas in the EU-27 which are in the Habitats Directive determined for preserving biodiversity covered almost 59 million hectares; in Slovenia 636,000 hectares or 1% of total protected land areas in the EU.

Slovenia has 69 autochthonous tree species, brown bears, wolves and lynxes. Forests are important for preserving biodiversity. In Slovene forests there are 69 autochthonous tree species. Our forests are habitats of many species of animals, some of them already endangered. Due to the preservation of forests, Slovenia is among the few European countries in which all three large predators can be encountered in nature: brown bear, wolf and lynx. Forests are also habitats of many amphibians and mammals. In general, roe deer and wild boar are widespread in our country, while red deer and chamois are slightly less widespread. Red deer and chamois live in Julian and Kamnik Alps, in Karavanke and in some forest areas of Pohorje, while red deer also live in the subalpine world and in Prekmurje.

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