PM: Key question on EU presidency is whether epidemic will have been over

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša believes that the key question of Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021 is whether the Covid-19 pandemic will have ended by then. If not enough Europeans get vaccinated by mid-2021, the main priority will be battling the pandemic.

Speaking to the press after a meeting of senior Slovenian politicians on Monday, the prime minister said the key question of the presidency was whether a victory against Covid-19 would be declared in Europe by then.

“This will happen when 70% of Europeans are successfully vaccinated with an efficient vaccine. If this does not happen before our presidency, battling the epidemic will be our first priority,” he said.

According to Janša, Slovenia’s expectations of the EU presidency are flexible, with contingency scenarios being in place if some other threats appear during that time.

He noted that a strategic plan for tackling the pandemic was one of the two priorities added subsequently to the joint programme of the presidency trio of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. The second is a plan for facing cyber attacks.

“Since May … both priorities have not only been adopted, but they are being intensively worked on today … as it is clear that these are permanent threats. The European Union … has not been prepared for either of the two.”

Janša added that there was a lot of work in this respect, which was invisible. “The remaining institutions are working on preparations, so there will be no problems, also because we have experience.”

President Borut Pahor too stressed that it was important that the preparations were undisrupted, not only at the technical level but also at the political level. These are political topics and proposals from Slovenia for their tackling, he added.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the country that wants to show its ambition at the European and global levels,” he said, adding that Slovenia could establish itself as a leader if it presented some clear ideas.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said the National Assembly was also getting ready for the EU presidency organisation- and content-wise. The matters have largely been agreed on already, so parliament will be completely ready, he added.