A star pupil playing it safe in the EU: Slovenia’s Council presidency

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The EU presidency will serve as a powerful instrument for further ‘Europeanisation’ of Slovenia both in terms of adopting European practices, norms and values and promoting its political interests at EU level, argues Manja Klemen?i? in a paper for the think tank Notre Europe.

The December 2007 paper argues that the Council presidency may act as a catalyst for the Slovenian government to “streamline its EU policy priorities, clarify its national interests in dealing with the EU” and signal its orientation within the Union. 

Slovenia assumed the EU presidency on 1 January 2008, becoming the first of the countries that joined the EU in 2004 to do so. 

Klemen?i? outlines the significance of the EU presidency for Slovenia, highlighting changes such as the intensive training of officials in EU affairs to handle the requirements of a presidency, increased meetings between Slovenian officials and their European colleagues and increased awareness of the EU throughout Slovenian society. 

Moreover, she describes its presidency as a “unique opportunity for Slovenia to profile itself […] as a competent, efficient and committed EU member state” and “show that it has clear positions” on European and global political issues. In proving that it is capable of holding an EU presidency successfully, Slovenia would “strengthen its recognition” internationally, she adds. 

Specifically, Klemen?i? highlights the Western Balkans as perhaps the only where Slovenia has the “confidence and interest to provide leadership within the EU” and accordingly “expects to achieve most”, but warns that it is here that “the risks of failure are strongest”. 

Obtaining a date for the opening of accession talks with Macedonia as well as candidate status for Serbia will be easier than making progress on Kosovo and Croatia, she believes. 

However, Klemen?i? warns that “limited administrative resources” and its status as a newcomer mean that Slovenia will have limited ambition during its presidency, preferring to “play it safe” while seeking to consolidate its international reputation. 

The study concludes that the Slovenian presidency will be characterised by “thorough preparation”, “curbed ambitions” and “high public support for the EU”. 

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