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State Secretary Lenarčič: The Slovenian Presidency delivers everything that the European Union expects and needs

At the end of the first half of Slovenia's Presidency of the European Council, the State Secretary for European Affairs Janez Lenarčič presented the Presidency’s main activities and achievements at a press conference. In his estimation, the Slovenian Presidency has delivered in terms of both substance and organisation. Slovenia has set itself realistic objectives. It has focused on current issues and has tackled them successfully. "The Slovenian Presidency is delivering everything that the European Union expects and needs" stated Janez Lenarčič.

Among the numerous events which State Secretary Janez Lenarčič referred to, the meeting of the European Council was the most significant. Slovenia has successfully passed the test. Heads of State and Government endorsed the Presidency’s ambitions in three key areas. The new cycle of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs will focus on implementation, while the areas of knowledge and innovation, strengthening the competitiveness of business and the social dimension have been updated. The European Council also confirmed that the climate and energy legislative package provides a good starting point and a basis for reaching agreement. More important still is the commitment that the Member States will find a political agreement by the end of 2008. At the same time, leaders reached an agreement on the fundamental principles to be taken into account when sharing burdens between the Member States. The European Council also outlined further steps to provide stability in financial markets.

As regards general affairs and external relations, a common view on the situation following Kosovo’s declaration of independence, and the agreement to send a EULEX military mission, were listed as important agreements. The Slovenian Presidency focused a great deal of attention on strengthening the European perspective of the Western Balkans. It was for this reason that Ministers or representatives of the countries in that area, including the Prime Minister of Kosovo, attended part of the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich).  A Presidency statement was adopted at the meeting, bringing fresh impetus to the European integration of the Western Balkans.

Significant work has also been done in the field of justice and home affairs. Furthermore, a dialogue on visa liberalisation for the Western Balkan countries has been initiated. At the EU-US Troika of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs concerning issues related to the Visa Waiver Program, an important agreement was reached, stating that a two-tier approach would be adopted when concluding memoranda of understanding and implementing agreements. As a result, the USA will henceforth discuss issues of national security with national bodies, while issues which fall within the jurisdiction of the EU will be discussed with EU bodies. At the same time, Ministers of the Interior agreed on a new timetable for setting up the Schengen System SIS II, which should be completed by September 2009 at the latest, and on key issues regarding the establishment of the European Police Office (Europol). The last step of the Schengen area enlargement was taken yesterday, when internal air border controls were abolished between Schengen Member States.

Agriculture Ministers concluded a discussion of the Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy, which was the Slovenian Presidency’s key priority in the area of Agriculture. Based on 25 decisions, which have been successfully coordinated among the Member States, the European Commission will prepare legislative proposals to be discussed under Slovenia's Presidency in May. Furthermore, Ministers reached important agreements on the implementation of cross-compliance simplifications and the increase of national milk quotas.

State Secretary Janez Lenarčič also pointed out several other areas, e.g. energy and transport, where intensive work is still underway. Within the third legislative package for the single electricity and gas market, Slovenia endeavours to reach a political agreement on the key issue – proprietary/effective separation – by the end of June 2008. The Slovenian Presidency has been also chairing intensive negotiations with the European Parliament on the Galileo Implementation Regulation, endeavouring to reach an agreement with the European Parliament at first reading.

During the first three months of Slovenia’s Presidency, some important legislative acts have been adopted via codecision with the European Parliament – the Consumer Credit Directive, the legislative package in the field of product, the Customs Code, the Postal Directive and the Document establishing the European Institute of Technology.


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Date: 04.04.2008