March 2008, published in Grayling's Circum Europa - 2008/Q1/Issue 5
The EU Presidency is currently held by Slovenia from 1st January to 30th June. Its main priority remains the successful ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty, followed by the EU’s good relations with the Western Balkans, energy and climate change, and the implementation of the new Lisbon cycle for growth and employment.
Slovenia's early approval of the Treaty has been seen as an encouraging and positive signal from the country with two million inhabitants. The EU Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, described the vote as an "expression of Slovenian support for a more effective, democratic, transparent and stronger European Union". Indeed, it was noted from within Brussels that Slovenia was among the first countries to approve the text.
The recently elected Slovenian President, Danilo Türk, elected in November 2007, has already demonstrated his enthusiasm for all things EU. However, it needs to be recalled that the Slovenian people elected Mr Türk largely in protest against the then President, Janez Drnovsek, and the Government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa. The latter has been broadly accused by Slovenians of increasing prices following the country’s switch to the euro in January 2007.
The next parliamentary elections for the Slovenian Parliament will be held on 8th October 2008 and the parliamentary campaign between the Government of Janez Jansa and the opposition sustaining the President, has already started.
Slovenia’s image is one of a peaceful and attractive tourist haven, and they can only stand to gain from their current EU Presidency. The real tests will come however once their Presidency comes to an end and attention turns to the internal political strife, conveniently being ignored for the moment…