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Press Release

1.05.19

Slovenia at home in Europe after 15 years as an EU Member State

Photo: Uroš Hočevar

 

Fifteen years ago, or on 1 May 2004 to be precise, Slovenia became a full member of the European Union. On 23 March 2003, with a turnout of 60%, almost 90% of voters voted for EU membership. Today, Slovenians continue to be strong advocates for the European Union and its values. The 15th anniversary of Slovenia’s accession will be celebrated at a gala event to be held at Brdo pri Kranju on 8 May.

 

The European Union has had a very positive impact on Slovenia’s development and on the life of its citizens. Student exchanges make it possible for young people to learn about other European countries and expand their knowledge and experience, helping them to enter the job market more easily. The internal market offers numerous advantages to entrepreneurs and the general public alike. These days, it takes us less time to earn the money to pay for a loaf of bread or a cinema ticket, and there is a much greater range of goods in the shops.

 

In many areas, we are above the average for EU Member States – or even among the leading countries. For example, Slovenia has a higher share of female graduates in natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics than any other EU country: 20.5 per 1,000 people aged between 20 and 29. The EU average is 13.1. Slovenian students are, on average, one year younger than their European counterparts and generally opt to continue their studies immediately after finishing secondary school. As the international Evroštudent study shows, this sets Slovenia apart from other European countries.

 

Therefore, after 15 years, we continue to support a strong, future-oriented and development-led European Union. As was the case on 9 May 1950, we must focus on developing cooperation and a common future in a safe, stable and successful family of EU nations working for the benefit of all its citizens.

 

After 15 years, we will have our third opportunity to take part in European elections. It is up to us European citizens to decide who is to take the decisions that will affect us in the years to come. Despite the growth of Euroscepticism and nationalism across the continent, something that will be reflected in this round of European elections in particular, the fact remains that European countries can only achieve more and come up with better answers to today’s global challenges if they work together – Brexit and the economic crisis have sharpened the debate and focused minds on the future of the European Union. While the general opinion is that the EU must change and develop, there is still no agreement on the path to be chosen in order to deepen ties and strengthen European identity.

 

Political leaders have put together several suggestions for future development, such as the White Paper on the Future of Europe and the Rome Declaration of the leaders of 27 member states and of EU institutions from March 2017. However, as the European Union is the sum of all its citizens, the EU and the Slovenian government last year inaugurated a discussion on changes to and the future of the European Union, open to all citizens. The suggestions and opinions they have put forward will be presented to EU leaders on Europe Day, 9 May, in the Romanian city of Sibiu.


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