The Slovenia Times

Janša, Merkel Agree Stable Finances, Growth Go Hand in Hand


According to the chancellor, the pair discussed the current situation in the EU and eurozone and agreed that countries should stick to the programmes that were agreed on and the rules to keep the eurozone running.

Having sustainable public finances is a must, but this is not enough to achieve long-term growth, they added.

"Without stability [of public finances] it is impossible to plan a positive future. That is why we find the dilemma between economic growth and austerity an artificial one. Rules must be obeyed, we should accept the fact that we can only spend what we earn," Janša said.

"Rules must be clear and they must apply for all," the prime minister said, adding that this was why Slovenia was among the first countries to ratify the fiscal pact in April.

The officials also talked about the efforts for reforms in both countries, with Merkel praising the austerity measures that Slovenia is now passing as "the right and necessary" moves.

She said the Slovenian government was tackling challenges with great courage and expressed conviction that it would succeed in its efforts.

Janša said that the government was striving to make the business environment in Slovenia more attractive to foreign investments, noting that some changes in this direction had already been made in the area of the tax system.

Among other changes, the corporate tax was lowered, while tax cuts on investments were introduced along with tax holidays for newly-founded companies. Costs of labour will go down significantly and flexicurity will be introduced to the labour market, according to Janša.

Moreover, the Slovenian parliament is in these days making "probably the most important decision in recent years" while deciding on the bill on the stabilising of the public finances, he noted.

Janša and Merkel also reviewed the possibilities for enhancing cooperation between Slovenia and Germany in the area of infrastructure, especially railways.

Janša already discussed the issue with CEO of Deutsche Bahn Rüdiger Grube on Tuesday. He confirmed today that they had talked about the possibility of reviving the idea of a Slovenian logistics holding.

The idea of the logistics holding, which would involve Slovenian railways operator Slovenske železnice in partnership with Deutsche Bahn, was floated during Janša's first term in office between 2004 and 2008, but lost momentum after Borut Pahor took office in the 2008 election.

Janša and Grube found yesterday that "the basic interest" in the project was still there, but the specific terms on it are yet to be discussed.

Janša also told today's press conference after the meeting with Merkel that he was particularly happy to be visiting Germany - in what is his first official visit abroad since he started his term - on 9 May, when Europe Day is observed along with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and Germany.

Among the topics of the meeting with the German chancellor was also the Western Balkans, in particular the process of Croatia's EU accession.

After the meeting with Merkel, Janša was received by Bundestag Speaker Norbert Lammert. According to Janša's office, the pair pointed out that economic growth should be built on real foundations and that agreements and contracts endorsed at the EU level should be honoured.

The pair also agreed that a firm budget policy can prevent stagnation and accelerate economic growth. Lammert said Germany's development in the past decade proved that balanced public finances and budget were a precondition for economic growth.

Janša and Lammert labelled the relations between Slovenia and Germany as excellent, but added that the cooperation between the two countries could be further enhanced in many areas.


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