7. 3. 2013

Prime Minister Janez Janša: It is necessary to be more active on the national level and in defending our interests

(Photo: Danijel Novaković/SPA)

"It is necessary to understand that this declaration is but a framework for adopting key decisions as required by the situation and in response to initiatives proposed. Today, there are two sets of documents before you. The first is the draft of the declaration, a political document setting up key priorities in the coming period, priorities as we see them and also as the European institutions see them, since we embrace their timetable. The second defines priorities for Slovenia's activities within the Council of the European Union in the current year and the first semester of 2014," said Prime Minister Janez Janša today at the 11th regular session of the National Assembly, when presenting the draft Declaration on activities of the Republic of Slovenia in the institutions of the European Union in the period January 2013 – June 2014.

Janez Janša underlined that effective use of European funds is fundamental. "We have currently used about half of the funds available, at this time last year the situation was much worse. In the second half of the last year, after this project was speeded up, more than 500 million Euros were received from the EU budget. Last year, there was more than 100% increase in the funds received from the EU budget. In 2011, the average of funds received was 22 million Euros per month, last year it was 46 million Euros per month; however, additional measures will be needed to keep this pace." Prime Minister Janez Janša also underlined the need to avoid the temptation to "redirect budget funds, earmarked to be used as national participation for co-financing of projects mostly financed from the EU, to other purposes, as this would mean that EU funds earmarked for Slovenia and badly needed, would remain unused. If these several 100 million Euros are used, rather than in investment projects, for wages in the public sector to fulfil certain promises given light-heartedly in the past weeks, the price to pay in terms of development will be huge."

"The declaration defines seven priorities. One: actions to exit the crisis, two: active contribution to the debate on the reform of the European Union, three: further strengthening of the economic and monetary union within the European Union, four: achieving the set rate of economic growth and jobs creation, operating infrastructure and working single market, five: efficient use of resources and improving the quality of life, six: implementing the right to safety and freedom, and seven: pursuing regional integration and supporting EU enlargement process. More items could certainly be added to this list, however, seven priority areas are more than enough and in these we need to have clear goals," stressed the Prime Minister.

Speaking of the preparations for the next week's meeting of the European Council the Prime Minister pointed out that "the results of the European Semester will be addressed, and guidance to Member States on the five EU priorities will be provided: pursuing fiscal consolidation, restoring normal lending to the economy, promoting growth and competitiveness, tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis, and modernising public administration.

"In the last year the Slovenian Government introduced measures in all five priority areas defined by the European Union; by revising the 2012 budget and by adopting the budgets for the current and the next years the foundation for fiscal consolidation was laid. The budget deficit was reduced, and this is now a good starting point for exiting the mechanism of excess deficit in which Slovenia has been caught since 2009. The adopted pension reform is already contributing to the consolidation effort," added the Prime Minister and stressed that "in 2008 Slovenia enjoyed 92% of EU average, and only 84% at the end of 2011. The drop in gross domestic product in this period was among the highest in the European Union, behind Greece. We were at the second place of this sad ranking. However, the worst scenario may still be avoided, if the adopted reforms are actually implemented."
The Prime Minister continued by reminding that many things remain to be implemented in the national legislation, including the golden fiscal rule, as time is running short.

He stressed that "there are no productive jobs without economic growth. The strengthening of the single market of the European Union is, alas, moving too slowly. This market has still a huge potential for growth of the European economy. Slovenia supports a rapid adoption of the Single Market Acts I and II, a set of actions to boost growth which are currently being on the European agenda."