Brussels/Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša highlighted the EU’s resilience and post-pandemic recovery as key topics of Slovenia’s upcoming EU presidency at today’s virtual meeting with the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents. Slovenia will cooperate closely with the Parliament, Janša said.
“We are happy to see the sun at the end of this cloudy epidemic year that is behind us, and a period of recovery ahead,” Janša told the press after the talks.
However, this also needs to be the time of boosting the EU’s resilience to potential new similar crises and Slovenia is strongly determined to set this as a priority of its presidency of the EU Council in the second half of the year, the prime minister said.
The goal is for the EU to achieve strategic autonomy in all critical areas where deficiencies were detected in the last year and a half, he said.
Janša also highlighted cybersecurity, which the presidency trio of Portugal, Slovenia and Germany has been working on. The EU is to set up its own firewall and build own defence capabilities against cyber attacks, the prime minister explained.
During Slovenia’s presidency, the Conference on the Future of Europe will also be held, which Janša deems important in the light of the post-epidemic recovery, efforts to boost resilience, and the post-Brexit period. This debate must be open to all and Slovenia will strive for this, he said.
Officials also discussed the European way of life today and the respecting of the rule of law, which sets the same standards for all and also envisages equal treatment of all EU countries in line with the Lisbon Treaty.
Certain progress can be reached within this framework both in individual countries and the entire EU, and that will be Slovenia’s goal, according to Janša.
Slovenia proposes the creation of an European institute for constitutional law. When faced with a legal dilemma, the EU mostly turns to the Venice Commission, a Council of Europe institution. “We need a similar institution of our own,” Janša said.
Slovenia would like to cooperate closely with the European Parliament in implementing these goals. Janša said he expected this cooperation to be at least as good as it was during the country’s first presidency in 2008.
The Lisbon Treaty has given an even bigger role to the Parliament and Slovenia is committed to putting this cooperation in the centre of procedures in the second half of the year, he said.
Any kind of progress in open issues in the second half of the year could only be achieved in close cooperation, Janša said, labelling today’s talks as very constructive.
European Parliament President David Sassoli said after the meeting that the debate had been broad and that many issues had been discussed with Slovenian counterparts which would need to be tackled during Slovenia’s presidency, when a new post-pandemic EU perspective would need to be set.
Several journalist questions were addressed to Janša at the virtual press conference following the talks, including regarding the procedure to appoint Slovenia’s two European delegated prosecutors, EU enlargement, the rule of law and the media situation in Slovenia.
He did not answer the question about the media, saying he received neither the image nor sound, so he could not hear the question.
Several other participants said they clearly heard the question.
The press conference was held simultaneously from Brussels, where Sassoli was located, and Brdo pri Kranju, from where Janša took part.
Sessoli said that the financing of a press agency had also been discussed and that the heads of political groups from the Parliament asked questions about this.
The Slovenian prime minister provided his explanation about the financing, Sassoli said, adding that the Parliament deemed press freedom an important matter.
As for the enlargement of the EU and the Schengen zone, Janša said Slovenia supported the enlargement of the Schengen zone to Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. These are steps that strengthen safety in Europe, he said.
EU enlargement should be a strategic response to many challenges, including the influence of foreign players in the Western Balkans and border issues.
“If you ask me how to solve the problem of different views on some key issues, including the borders in this region, the answer is the EU perspective,” Janša said, suggesting that several countries should perhaps join the bloc at the same time.