I already wrote that Slovenia is part of the euro zone, has a population of two million, has opened its preliminary Presidency web site and acts as President of the Council of the European Union (including the European Council) from 1 January 2008. Now it is time to take a closer look.
When France invited ministers from the first and second Presidency trio, the Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel stressed that his country would like to see a Europe which invests in people and works for the future.
The ratification processes of the Reform Treaty are going to be on the agenda. The Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs reaches a new phase of implementation. Environmental changes require the attention of the EU Council. There are great foreign policy challenges: the Middle East peace process, continued integration of the Western Balkans, and Kosovo, where Rupel stressed the importance of reaching unity within and outside the European Union.
Slovenia wants to contribute to the dialogue between different cultures and religions, and the government has made a proposal to establish a Euro-Mediterranean university in Piran.
At an EPC seminar Slovenia’s EU ambassador said that Slovenia had been preparing for the EU Presidency since 2005. Ljubljana is going to start the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty almost immediately after signing, and would begin work on the detailed decisions needed to implement the new Treaty provisions.
The renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs is not going to change policies radically, but more resources will be put into research and innovation, renewing business potential, helping small and medium-sized enterprises and improving labour markets.
In January, after the United Nations’ Bali Meeting, the European Commission is going to publish an energy and climate change package containing binding targets to reduce emissions. The Permanent Representative hoped that the European Council in March would endorse the proposals. In parallel work continues to liberalise the electricity and gas markets.
Senčar emphasized the importance of a European perspective for the Western Balkans. The fight against organised crime and further security reforms are important in the region. Easing the visa regime could bring about progress, which is impossible while young people remain isolated from Europe.
Unity within the European Union and with the USA and Russia on the status of Kosovo is essential. Bold action is needed to enable Serbia to become a “strategic partner” of the EU, Senčar said.
Every EU Presidency is important for the different dossiers, so there is considerable advance interest among those who follow European affairs.
A succinct but undated Presentation as well as additional information and news can be found on the web pages of the Slovenian Government Office for European Affairs. Before the Presidency pages in three languages (English, French and Slovene) become more active, these web pages seem to offer the most to those from the outside who are interested in getting to know the next EU Presidency.
The think-tank Notre Europe has promised a study by Manja Klemenčič on the Slovenian Presidency shortly.
Background and sources:
Slovenian EU presidency preliminary website, fully online as of 1 January 2008; http://www.eu2008.si
Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union; Government Communication Office; http://www.ukom.gov.si/eng
The programme and priorities of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU; Government Communication Office; http://www.ukom.gov.si/eng
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel speaks at French Government consultations on the EU’s future; 17 november 2007; http://www.mzz.gov.si
EU Integration and Citizenship – Priorities of the Slovenian Presidency; European Policy Centre, EPC, 3 December 2007; http://www.epc.eu
Presentation, highlights, documents, news etc.; Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Government Office for European Affairs; http://www.svez.gov.si/en/
Notre Europe: a study on the Slovenian EU Presidency by Manja Klemenčič is going to be published shortly; http://www.notre-europe.eu