For further information on the Presidency's agenda, see the Slovenian Presidency calendar and the programme and priorities, as well as the Council's 18-month programme for the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies.
Treaty of Lisbon
Following the signing of the Lisbon Treaty by EU heads of state and government on 13 December, the main challenge now is swift ratification. The incoming presidency has high hopes that all 27 member states will adopt the text of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of 2008. Slovenia will try to set a positive example by ratifying the text at an early stage during its presidency.
Slovenia stresses the "immense importance" of stability in the Western Balkans region and sets out the key challenges for the EU there. Advancing the European perspective for the region is a "high priority" for the Slovenian presidency, most notably by concluding Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) - which represent an important step towards EU membership - with all the Western Balkan countries. In 2008, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina hope to sign the SAAs initialled by the EU in late 2007.
However, the "most pressing issue" the EU currently faces is the settlement of the final status of Kosovo. The talks are now moving toward a critical phase, after a recent round of talks led by an international contact group failed. At the European Council on 14 December, EU leaders agreed to send an ESDP mission and a contribution to an international civilian mission to Kosovo. However, the EU remains split over possible recognition of unilaterally declared independence by Kosovo. The settlement of the Kosovo issue and the subsequent EU mission there is seen as the biggest external challenge currently faced by Europe.
Energy and climate change
After the Bali climate conference in December, the Commission is expected to propose a comprehensive energy and climate change package in January, with a special focus on emissions trading, carbon capture and storage and renewables, among others. The EU will also have to decide on how to implement its ambitious climate change targets with a view to preparing for the international summit in Copenhagen scheduled for the end of 2009. Moreover, common ground on the issue of the final phase of liberalising European energy and gas markets is yet to be found.
Growth and Jobs
With the Lisbon strategy currently under review, EU leaders will decide on the implementation of the next Lisbon cycle when they meet at the Spring Council (13-14 March). Slovenia has made it clear that no radical changes are to be expected, however renewed impetus should be given to increasing research and development (R&D), improving business potential, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and creating flexible labour markets. The Slovenian Presidency also hopes for a timely adoption of the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2008-2010).