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Prime Minister Cerar in Brussels favours ambitious and development-oriented future European financial framework

 

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar attended today in Brussels the informal meeting of leaders of the EU-27 Member States, who focused their attention on two important topics that are especially significant for the future of Europe. They addressed issues related to the multiannual financial framework for the period after 2020, and institutional issues that are arising in view of the European elections in 2019. The EU leaders, who today conducted the first such discussion, agreed that the future financial framework must be effective and development-oriented. Equally, they agreed that the content of the budget must be under time constraints, so that such important negotiations will in any event be concluded before the European elections.

   

Prime Minister Cerar advocated a development-oriented and ambitious European budget. As he stated following the meeting, the leaders as expected had open, informative talks that signal the preamble to real negotiations on the multiannual financial framework for the Union after 2020. Indeed the EU leaders mainly discussed the political priorities that should serve as a basis for negotiations, explained the Prime Minister. They agreed, he added, that greater attention would need to be focused in the future particularly on migration, security, defence and also social issues.

   

It is clear that this time around the budget negotiations will be impacted in particular by the anticipated departure of what has been a net contributor, the United Kingdom, i.e. Brexit, and by the need to cover new priorities that reflect the present-day challenges of the Union. It is in Slovenia's interest for the European budget to be above one percent of the gross national income of the Union, judged the Prime Minister.

   

''The budget will shrink slightly in real terms with the departure of the United Kingdom, so we need to resolutely advocate Slovenia's interests,'' he explained. Here he noted that it will be very important to maintain the level of cohesion funding which Slovenia vitally needs for development. Slovenia therefore cannot accept any excessive reduction in cohesion funding, was the message Prime Minister Cerar conveyed to his counterparts.

  

In the words of Slovenia's Prime Minister, the European budget must be development-oriented and ambitious, supporting young people and innovation, while at the same time it should ensure sufficient funds for addressing new challenges such as security and migration, as well as certain social issues 

Right upon his arrival at the informal summit, the Prime Minister expressed the expectation that in the next EU multiannual financial framework Slovenia would remain a net recipient of European funds, but added that of course Slovenia's long-term interest is to continue its planned development and to rank among the most advanced EU Member States.

  

At the forefront of the discussion on institutional issues was the concept of lead candidates, regarding which Prime Minister Cerar took the view upon his arrival at the meeting that he was not in favour of it, principally for the following three reasons: there is no clear legal basis for it, it inappropriately curbs the scope for selecting high-quality candidates, and leads to excessive politicisation of the European Commission and certain other institutions. Slovenia does not support the system of lead candidates, he told his counterparts, citing the aforementioned reasons. Political groups in the European Parliament can of course use this method, but there is nothing automatic in this, and leaders of the Member States must decide freely on this, he explained.

  

Prime Minister Cerar underlined that it is in the interest of the entire Union to have a European Commission that works for the common/balanced, therefore European interest and safeguards the common legal order, the acquis, something for which he himself will always strive. This issue is indeed important especially in terms of inter-institutional balance and of the democratic nature of the Union.

  

The concept of lead candidates was used at the last European elections in 2014. This involves each political group in the European Parliament appointing their own lead candidate, who would in the event of the group's victory in the elections become president of the European Commission. Yet here there is no automaticity, agreed the EU leaders. Indeed the predominant position is that in the selection of the Commission president the European Council has clear jurisdiction to make nominations.

  

The EU leaders then resolutely rejected the proposal from Jean-Claude Juncker regarding the possibility of merging the offices of president of the European Commission and of the European Council, and they also rejected the proposal to reduce the number of European Commission members. Currently it is highly important for each country to have a commissioner within the Commission, judged the Slovenian Prime Minister.

  

Regarding the initiative from French President Emmanuel Macron to establish what are called transnational lists, as Prime Minister Cerar reported, European leaders agreed that the idea is not feasible in the upcoming European elections, but that this interesting idea is worth investigating and considering in the light of the European elections to be held in 2024.

  

They also addressed the composition of the European Parliament in the 2019-2024 term. They were in agreement that the portion of parliamentary seats left vacant by Brexit should, in line with the provisions, be fairly divided among the Member States, and the remainder should stay vacant up until the next EU enlargement.

  

Before the meeting started, the Slovenian Prime Minister also attended the high-level international donor conference on the Sahel, through which the international community embarked for the first time on resolving the situation in that region. This was a high-level donor conference under the aegis of the Sahel Alliance and in support of the G5 Sahel Joint Force (Mauretania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad). At this event the international community took its first steps towards resolving the situation in the Sahel, especially in the areas of political and diplomatic cooperation, security and development, and succeeded in gathering EUR 414 million.

  

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