Yesterday, Prime Minister Janez Janša, together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Anže Logar, Minister of the Economy Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs, Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti and Minister of Health Janez Poklukar, had a virtual meeting with President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups. After the meeting, President of the European Parliament and Prime Minister Janša issued a joint statement for the media.
In the statement, Prime Minister Janša thanked everyone for the very constructive discussion between the ministers and the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups on the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of the year. “Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament is an extremely important, originally democratic EU institution, and any progress can only be achieved through close cooperation, so we are counting on the close cooperation between the Council and the European Parliament and on the fact that this cooperation will be at least as good as in 2008, when Slovenia was the first new EU Member State to lead the EU Council and the European Council at the time,” said Prime Minister, adding that according to the Lisbon Treaty, the role of the European Parliament is even more important and thus Slovenia’s commitment to make this cooperation the focal point of procedures in the second half of 2021.
The key topic of today’s meeting was the resilience and recovery of the EU. “We are happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel after over a year-long epidemic, and that recovery is ahead. However, this must also be a time of achieving greater EU resilience in the event of similar crises, and Slovenia is determined to make this a priority during its presidency, since the memories are still fresh and because it is easier to make progress in such conditions,” said Prime Minister. He added that this was also necessary in order for the EU to be more resilient and for Slovenia to achieve the EU’s strategic autonomy with regard to all critical issues, where many shortcomings had come to light in the last year and a half. “We are counting on the European Commission to approve the national recovery plans as soon as possible in the coming weeks,” said Prime Minister Janša, adding that our common great success is the agreement on the Next Generation EU and the necessary resources. According to the Prime Minister, the latest forecasts of macroeconomic indicators at the EU level are more favourable than last year’s autumn forecasts, so “we expect that it will be possible to ensure a recovery in the second half of this year and next year to compensate for last year’s losses.”
“As far as crisis management and preparations for making the EU more resilient is concerned, we are also working on the EU’s cyber resilience together with the previous German and Portuguese presidencies. We are targeted by individual cyberattacks almost on a weekly basis, and our goal is to ensure to the greatest extent possible that Europe builds own defence capabilities against cyberattacks, both symmetric and asymmetric,” added Prime Minister.
One of the events held during Slovenia’s presidency of the EU Council is the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is important because it comes in the post-epidemic period, in the time of recovery and efforts for greater resilience, in the post-Brexit period and in the time of many turbulences that Europeans have experienced for the past decade and a half. “This debate must be open, and everyone must be able to participate,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša, adding that research shows a great deal of people’s interest in participating in this debate. “ An interest in participation has also been expressed by two thirds of our citizens, and Slovenia will strive to open a space for discussion for all,” said the Prime Minister, announcing that this will be the central topic of the Bled Strategic Forum held in early September, where diverse participants from various European institutions are expected. “We are also discussing the participation of the chairs of the parliamentary groups from the European Parliament in this forum,” he added.
The topics of today’s conversation with the chairs of the European Parliament’s political groups also included the European way of life and respect for the rule of law. “The rule of law is not a rule of arbitrary policy, nor is it a matter of selective justice and different criteria; instead, it presupposes equal rules for all and equal treatment of all EU Member States under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. In this context, some progress can be made, both in individual Member States and in the EU as a whole,” emphasised the Prime Minister.
Furthermore, he spoke about freedom of speech and expression of the individual, which is an essential building block of democratic processes in both the Member States and in the European Union, as well as in all legal proceedings. “This freedom of speech cannot be limited by any higher freedoms or interests that were invented in totalitarian regimes and in the situation we see in Belarus today,” stressed Prime Minister Janez Janša. He also pointed out that Slovenia proposes the establishment of a European Institute for Constitutional Law. “When facing a dilemma, the EU usually sends the Venice Commission, which is a Council of Europe institution. We need our own similar institution and one of our proposals is aimed at that,” the Prime Minister said. He added that the situation in Belarus had also been mentioned at the meeting. “Everyone who is a victim of the repressive regime in Belarus deserves not only our solidarity and support, but also the help and measures taken at the last EU summit. These measures need to be upgraded in the future, and at the heart of them must be our efforts for security, human rights and respect for political freedoms, including those of political prisoners in Belarus,” the Prime Minister said.
As he concluded: “Our goal is a Europe, whole, free and at peace with itself, and a Europe capable of extending this area of freedom of high standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms to its neighbourhood, because the wider and larger this area is, the safer we will be together.