The Slovenia Times

EU Parliament President Schulz Starts Busy Visit


Schulz, recently picked by European Socialists (PES) as their candidate for the president of the European Commission, is visiting in the capacity of European Parliament president and will first be received by Speaker of the National Assembly Janko Veber today.

On Friday he will address the National Assembly, while meetings are also planned with PM Alenka BratuĊĦek, President Borut Pahor and the opposition as well as with the Social Democrats (SD), the only Slovenian party belonging to PES.

A joint press conference with him was also announced for Friday morning by Solidarity, a party which has recently emerged from several movements from the 2012/13 winter street protests and plans to enter the election race for the European Parliament.

Schulz, who was the head of the deputy group of the European SocDems (S&D) from 2004 to 2012, told the STA that his message in the Slovenian parliament will be that "the situation in Slovenia is not different from other parts of Europe".

"We need growth and growth has a precondition - this is investment," he said before visiting Slovenia, arguing that investors need certainty, which is why "a banking union is in our common interest".

"I know that in Slovenia people had the feeling that they had to pay a lot for irresponsible speculation, but this is the feeling all over in Europe."

Thus his message is that the EU needs to end a situation where big companies pay no taxes when making large profits, while their losses are covered by taxpayers.

Schulz's political message will meanwhile be about "what happens when strong countries give lessons to weaker countries", he said, pointing to events in Ukraine.

He noted that "we should not forget that people in Maidan Square died with the European flag in their hands" and that "we should not take our European achievements for granted" but "fight for them every day".

Schulz feels that the say the Lisbon Treaty has given voters in the choice of the European Commission president will boost turnout in the coming EU election.

He argued that turnout has also been falling in national elections because more and more voters feel their voice plays no role.

Schulz said parliamentarians at all levels would need to reflect on this problem, which also has to do with voters' lack of understanding of EU processes, so he called for direct contact with voters and a stronger role of local decision-making.

He argued that people need to understand that they can influence the orientation of those whose decisions affect their everyday lives.

Schulz highlighted among concrete measures of the European Parliament that could convince EU citizens efforts to "bring rules into a completely deregulated financial market", cutting bankers' bonuses and a push for a tax on financial transactions.

The serious issues that the EU needs to focus on after that include trade, climate change, tax evasion, migration, border control, and security in energy supply, Schulz announced in the interview with the STA.


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