The Slovenia Times

President urges closer EU integration


In the latest in a series of calls for a more tightly knit EU, Pahor said Slovenia must strive for a more integrated Europe despite the potential risk to its sovereignty and position in the EU.

He labelled the risk as "reasonable" and said this made closer integration the "right path".

His address comes only a fortnight after he told a debate on the future EU constitution that the EU must strive to implement a federal institutional structure.

In today's address, he assessed that the process of closer integration must be carried out gradually, with the current priority being the foundations.

Speaking at the EU Today - Time for Closer Integration? conference organised by the European Commission Representation in conjunction with the STA, Pahor said that the biggest risk of closer integration for Slovenia is its position in Cohesion instruments.

The question is whether Slovenia can retain its current position or be subject to a deterioration which would relegate it under the required level of cohesion support. "The latter would represent an unacceptable risk."

In his opinion, debates such as today's conference create an intellectual platform to debate important decisions facing the country and its broader region.

"The EU is our homeland and it must remain so," said Pahor, assessing that the bloc promoted reconciliation, peace and development. "It shelters us from a return to the old geopolitical ways."

Despite the current lack of "emotional and political" foundations for deeper EU integration, Pahor feels that this will be created soon. "Things cannot stay as they are...which is why we need to be prepared when the time comes to decide."

One of the alternatives to federalisation is the creation of a EU of different tiers, in which case Slovenia must strive to be among the most active members.

"If we were to fall behind, it would mean that we have failed to achieve the fundamental idea stemming from independence, which was being members of Euro-Atlantic organisations. This means being part of the most tightly-knit part of Europe," said Pahor.

The president also said Slovenia needed to make a decision about its position in Europe. "It is up to us to get intellectual momentum and when the time comes to decide on deeper integration of all 28 members or to remain in the tightly-knit group in case of a tiered system."

Head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia Zoran Stančič said that the European executive was looking to promote debate at national level on how to achieve greater integration.

In most countries there are clear calls for more Europe and a clear demand for common European solutions to new challenges in the economy and finance, said Stančič.

The formal debate was opened with the Report on Completing the European Economic and Monetary Union, which was presented in June by the five presidents of the European institutions.

The report laid out a vision and timetable for achieving a complete EMU, said Stančič, with the outcome now dependent on the debates in the member states.


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