The Slovenia Times

PM in Parliament: 2015 Will Be Year of Challenges for EU



Cooperation and communication among EU member states is especially important in the light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Cerar stressed, adding that the issues of inequality, unemployment and alienation would need to be tackled to prevent such events in the future.

Although Slovenia is in no bigger risk of an attack after the Paris events, the country is aware that this is a very fragile situation, he said, underlining the importance of cooperation among members states and also with Western Balkan countries.

Another big challenge the EU faces is kick-starting the economy and maintaining sustainable economic growth.

The process of implementation of structural reforms and balancing of public finances is already showing first results in Slovenia, he noted.

But if the country is to continue on this course of development, the structural measures must continue, Cerar stressed, adding that the process of privatisation of the selected 15 companies would continue.

Touching on the EUR 315bn investment plan proposed by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Cerar said it must become a success. Slovenia is preparing 22 projects worth EUR 9.9bn and the list is still open, he said.

The government has set up a task force to draw up and monitor the projects and strive for transparent mechanisms of financing.

Cerar also said Slovenia would look for opportunities for economic growth in the free trade agreements, in particular the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), while opposing the lowering of existing environmental, social, working and health standards in the EU.

The fear surrounding these agreements is not completely unfounded, but it is also not completely insurmountable, he said. Negotiations on such important agreements must not be rushed, but the fact is that close partnerships have become common place in the globalised world.

This was challenged by MP of the opposition United Left (ZL) Luka Mesec, who said that Slovenia was being "very naive" in its striving for the adoption of the free trade agreements.

He said that the agreements would have no positive effect on GDP while they might cause job losses. He also warned that Slovenian companies were not ready for tougher competition and pointed to the issue of food safety.

Turning to foreign policy issues, Cerar said that the EU was united on the policy of sanctions against Russia pending the implementation of the Minsk agreement. The change in the relations with Russia calls for measures for the bloc's energy self-sufficiency, according to Cerar, who expects a clear vision of the energy union with respect to the climate change to be presented in February.

Slovenia's main strategic interest is for the EU and its institutions to stay strong, but the country will remain "constructively critical" and will continue to advocate food safety and self-sufficiency, public health, freedom of movement and free movement of capital, the PM said.

The declaration was carried by 53 votes to three with 74 out of 90 MPs present at the vote.


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