August 3, 2021

Slovenia takes over EU Presidency amid rule of law debate

Slovenia took, Thursday 1is July, the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for six months, against a backdrop of tensions between the community institutions and Prime Minister Janez Jansa, for subjects relating to respect for the rule of law. The meeting of European heads of state and government in Brussels on June 24 and 25 was symptomatic. While the Twenty-Seven debated at length the Hungarian law on “the protection of the family”, which equates homosexuality with pedophilia, only the Polish and Slovenian prime ministers defended Budapest. Mr. Jansa, who often plays on his proximity to Viktor Orban, was the most virulent.

The Commission has not launched any infringement proceedings against Slovenia on matters relating to freedoms. However, it could do so shortly in the case of the new European public prosecutor’s office. The Slovenian government has still not appointed the two national prosecutors it must send there, thus hampering its action. It is indeed not in a position to investigate, in particular, the use of 2.5 billion euros that will be paid to Ljublijana as part of the European recovery plan.

As for the decision of Mr. Jansa, taken at the beginning of the year, to cut the food to the national news agency STA because it would contest his political line, the community executive has no way of contesting it. . “Ljubljana has just made a new proposal on this subject. We must examine it to know if it is only a communication operation, or if there is substance ”, we explain to the Commission.

Call for press freedom

More generally, Slovenia has recently increased the number of decisions which have the effect of reducing press freedom. Six international organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, recently signed an appeal to restore it, while expressing their fear that the Slovenian government would take advantage of these six months of presidency to hamper it.

In the European Parliament, the Social Democrats, the Left, the Greens and the Renew Liberals wrote to the Commission on June 29, asking it to suspend the payment of European aid to Slovenia, as long as it does not respect Right wing state. “The mechanism of conditionality of the payment of European funds to respect for the rule of law can only be activated if the practices of a country result in a misuse of European funds, this is not the case in Slovenia”, we comment to the Commission. On Thursday, in any case, the community executive validated the Slovenian national recovery plan.

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