Slovenia to play major role in conference on EU’s future

Ljubljana – Slovenia will play a major role in the organisation of the Conference on the Future of Europe as the bulk of the project is held during the Slovenian EU presidency. The country would like to add value to the conference substance-wise as well. It will strive to make sure that as many voices of EU citizens are heard as possible.

Although Slovenia will not be in charge of leading the event’s discussions, it will strive to actively contribute to them and seek to add value to the Slovenian EU presidency as well, the Foreign Ministry had told the STA.

The conference, which was launched on 9 May, is a joint undertaking by the heads of the European Parliament, European Commission and the government of the current member state holding the EU presidency.

In the second half of the year, when Slovenia presides over the Council of the EU, Prime Minister Janez Janša will participate in the organisation of the conference. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan is on the conference’s executive board, which will oversee the general organisation and management of the project.

During its EU presidency, Slovenia will be a nexus between other member states and the organisers of the conference, a link providing an exchange of information and views, the ministry said.

As a member state, Slovenia will also actively take part in the discussions and seek to add value to the conference substance-wise in line with a joint decision that has been made by Janša, President Borut Pahor and a number of experts.

“At a governmental level Slovenia will strive for a Europe that will be stronger on the outside and more flexible on the inside. The country will strive for the strengthening of the EU’s capacities and for a better resilience to various types of crisis,” the ministry said.

The government will also support efforts to increase the role of the EU in the bloc’s foreign and security policies that should be managed strategically and in cooperation with partners.

Moreover, Slovenia will strive for the strengthening of the EU’s leading role in areas on a global level, including environmental issues, global public health and demographic policy.

The government will aim to build trust between member states based on principles of equality, mutual respect and cooperation, the ministry noted.

This year’s Bled Strategic Forum, the country’s prime foreign policy event, will be fully dedicated to discussions on the future of Europe. Many top officials from other EU countries and EU institutions are expected to attend, as well as representatives of key European international partners and civil society.

Addressing a debate that launched the conference in Slovenia on Thursday, Janša said it had been agreed within the current presidency trio (Germany, Portugal, Slovenia), as well as the next (France, the Czech Republic and Sweden), to open up discussion.

“This should not only be a discussion on a governmental level, but a discussion where anyone could participate,” he said.

The success of the conference depends on the extent of inclusion, on the input by the young, local communities and regions, precarious workers and other segments of Europe’s society, said Matjaž Nahtigal, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.

According to him, the key challenge of the conference is setting up a knowledge society and knowledge economy for all.

Nahtigal thinks that the conference could help strengthen democratic discourse by the civil society in Slovenia, provide support for independent institutions and help create initiatives that would reinvent the country as an active, productive and creative member of the bloc.

According to the Future of Europe Eurobarometer survey, which was conducted between 22 October and 20 November 2020 and released ahead of the conference’s launch, 63% of Slovenian respondents intend to take part in the conference, 12 points above the EU average.