EU Parliament vice-president says Slovenia can push forward EU priorities

Ljubljana – First Vice-President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has spoken to the STA ahead of her visit to Slovenia, saying that the country could push forward the EU priorities over the next six months as it assumes the EU Council presidency. She also discussed the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Maltese politician, who was elected the first vice-president of the European Parliament last November, is coming to Slovenia on Tuesday as representative of the European Parliament responsible for contact with national parliaments.

Her visit is related to the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council, which Slovenia will assume in July from Portugal, with Slovenia’s priorities being one of the main topics of talks with Slovenian representatives.

Metsola will meet Marko Pogačnik, the chair of the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee, and will also be received by National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and Prime Minister Janez Janša.

In a telephone interview with the STA ahead of the visit, Metsola said she expected a very open debate as she was looking forward to the Slovenian presidency of the EU.

“I remember very well the previous Slovenian presidency [in 2008] and how successful it was, so I look forward to having this presidency being just as successful,” she said.

Metsola noted that Slovenia was not a small country and that it could be the leader, pushing forward EU priorities over the next six months, while admitting that the presidency was being assumed “in an unprecedented time”.

“Strengthening the resilience of the EU in the post-pandemic reality must be at the forefront,” she said about expectations from Slovenia, adding that the focus was also on climate, which was very important for the whole institutional setup in the EU.

When it comes to the international aspect, the statements by the Slovenian government on Belarus are very encouraging, she believes. “We need to keep this issue high on the agenda.”

As for migration, Metsola said that the European Parliament was looking forward to progress in the field. “There is a plan on the table … which talks of different forms of concrete solidarity that can be shown by countries on the periphery of EU.”

What is also important is the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will be chaired by the Slovenian presidency, and where Metsola sees the need to “strengthen the EU in a very, very fragile situation.”

“Newer member states have shown in the past that they can lead the process and bring all the different sides to the process together within this conference,” she said, adding that a country like Slovenia could act as an arbiter.

Slovenia can also push forward new ways of how Europe can come together in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, where all the voices at all levels need to be heard, Metsola concluded.