EU Commission on virtual Rule of Law Report visit to Slovenia

Brussels – The European Commission is on a virtual visit to Slovenia today in preparation for its second Rule of Law Report, which is expected in July, the Foreign Ministry confirmed for the STA. Slovenia submitted its assessment of the situation in late March. The purpose of the visit is to obtain additional information and clear up any issues.

The ministry said the visit was an informal exchange of information that was part of the Commissions’s preparations for the annual report, adding that talks were conducted with representatives of relevant departments as part of the process.

Interlocutors are picked by the departments, whereas the Commission’s officials could also meet representatives of various stakeholders or civil society according to their own choice, the ministry said.

The report is based on four pillars: the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and other institutional checks and balances. This year’s report will also focus on prevention measures to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša addressed a letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in February, inviting the Commission to appoint a fact-finding mission that would visit Slovenia to get acquainted with the relevant situation.

In response, the Commission said that the annual report on the rule of law was the proper framework to assess the situation of media freedom, which is “a pillar of our democracies”.

Close cooperation and months-long exchanges with member states are part of that process, and work on the next annual report on the rule of law has already started, the Commission added.

The exchanges depend also on virtual visits to member states that serve as an opportunity for the Commission to discuss the rule of law development with various stakeholders, including judicial authorities, law enforcement authorities, journalist associations and civil society.

The first report, released in September 2020, raised concern over online harassment of journalists in Slovenia, warning about a lack of response by the judiciary as well as lawsuits against journalists that have an intimidating effect.