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The European Union is brought under the Slovenian flag


The Slovenian government of Janez Janša takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union. This ultraconservative personality fails to win unanimous support as the EU is in the midst of a debate regarding its future.



Janez Janša and his government take over the EU presidency for six months (Photo: Slovenian Government)
Janez Janša and his government take over the EU presidency for six months (Photo: Slovenian Government)
EU / SLOVENIA. Portugal and its Prime Minister Augusto Santos Silva are handing over the EU Presidency to Slovenia on Thursday 1 July 2021.
 
Janez Janša, President of the government of this country of two million inhabitants, a Member State since 2004, will therefore assume, with his government and for six months, the presidency of the Council of Ministers of the EU. He is already familiar with this position, having held it in 2008.
 
A former communist dissident and then independence hero, the sixty-two-year-old man, who has been at the head of Slovenia since December 2004, is not unanimously supported. His propensity to send multiple tweets a day has earned him two nicknames: "mini-Trump" and "Marshal Twito", a contraction of Twitter and Tito, the former dictator of Yugoslavia to which his territory belonged before gaining independence in 1991.
 
Janez Janša holds a particular grudge against the press, describing the national news agency STA on this social network as a "national disgrace" before cutting off its funding, and some journalists as "retired prostitutes", "drunkards" or "liars". As a self-proclaimed populist, he is not soft on academics and judges either.

Problems with monitoring EU funding in Slovenia

On 27 May 2021, he had to accept the resignation of his justice minister. Lilijana Koslovic did not like the fact that the two judges she had nominated for appointment as national prosecutors in the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) were rejected by her government president. It had judged this decision "without legal basis". This new European Public Prosecutor's Office, operational since 1 June 2021, is responsible for fighting financial fraud affecting the European budget.
 
The two ousted candidates had previously investigated allegations of bribery involving Janez Janša.
 
In an official statement, Laura Kövesi, head of EPPO, noted at the end of May 2011 that "the manifest lack of sincere cooperation of the Slovenian authorities with EPPO seriously undermines confidence in the effective functioning of the management and control systems for EU funding in Slovenia."
Slovenia is now the only one of the 22 members of the Luxembourg-based body that has not yet appointed its representatives.
 
Janez Janša's role model in Europe is Viktor Orbán, a champion of illiberalism and a staunch opponent of immigration. The Hungarian Prime Minister recently made headlines for passing a law blocking all references to homosexuality and transgender people among minors. In a joint letter, 17 Member State leaders say they see the text as a "threat to fundamental rights and in particular to the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation".

Four priorities for the EU

Slovenia will lead the debate on the future of Europe during its EU Council Presidency (photo: EU Council Presidency)
Slovenia will lead the debate on the future of Europe during its EU Council Presidency (photo: EU Council Presidency)
However, the Slovenian government will not have a free hand in this presidency. Firstly, since 2007, the office has had to follow a common programme defined by Slovenia, but also by the previous holder of the office (Portugal) and the next (France, which will take over the presidency in 2022). Secondly, the creation of the post of EU president in December 2009, which will be held by Belgian Charles Michel in December 2019, also limits his powers. He must work closely with him and with Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Finally, Janez Janša will also have to deal with the other 26 EU leaders.
 
The EU Council Presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, in particular the Commission and the European Parliament. "Its role is to try to reach agreement on legislative dossiers in trilogues, informal negotiation meetings and meetings of the Conciliation Committee," says the Council website.
 
A week ago, Anže Logar, Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, unveiled the priorities of his country's six-month Presidency of the EU Council under the slogan: "Together. Resilient. Europe". There are four priorities: recovery, resilience and strategic autonomy of the EU; reflection on the future of Europe; the European way of life, the rule of law and European values; strengthening security and stability in the European neighbourhood.
 
"The Presidency is an opportunity to strengthen integration within the EU and its institutions, and to steer development towards an innovative and creative community based on sustainable development," he said on the occasion. "As we strive to achieve a recovery that will cover all sectors of the economy and all parts of society as quickly as possible, particular attention will be paid to the recovery mechanism and the new generation EU recovery package. The latter is based on the green and digital transitions," the Minister continued.
 

Better integration of the Western Balkans

In the context of the debate on Europe’s future initiated on 9 May 2021, and whose conclusions are expected in spring 2022, he states his belief that "a good understanding of the constitutional, socio-economic, political, historical and other similarities and differences between the Member States can help strengthen the rule of law in the EU."
 
Of course, Anže Logar also insists that "the European future of the Western Balkan countries and the continuation of the enlargement process must become the strategic interest of the Union." He therefore intends to focus his six-monthly roadmap on "the socio-economic recovery and integration of the Western Balkans in various European policy areas, ranging from infrastructure, transport and energy connectivity to research and innovation, decarbonisation, digitalisation and cyber resilience." According to the Slovenian minister, "all this is crucial for a credible and secure European Union, which we want to highlight at the EU-Western Balkans Summit, hosted by Slovenia this autumn."
 

Frédéric Dubessy


Friday, July 2nd 2021



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