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Quo vadis Europe?

Europe Day is a day to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. The Council of Europe celebrates it on 5 May and the European Union on 9 May. A reflection on the future of the European Union was at the forefront of this year's Europe Day.

Europe Day, which is celebrated on 9 May, is intended for celebrating peace and unity in Europe and the memory of the beginning of the establishment of the European Union as we know today

Europe Day, which is celebrated on 9 May, is intended for celebrating peace and unity in Europe and the memory of the beginning of the establishment of the European Union as we know today | Author Den Rozhnovsky/Shutterstock.com

The Conference on the Future of Europe started on 9 May 2021. It was also one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of last year. Slovenia, as the presiding country, also participated in chairing the Conference. It ended on this year's Europe Day with a concluding event in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. At the event, members of the Conference's Executive Board presented to the presidents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and France, which currently presides over the EU Council, proposals in various fields: health, environment, EU decision-making, the Union's external action, the economy and the rule of law. The plenary session of the Conference adopted 49 proposals with more than 300 measures.

This year's Europe Day was marked by disagreements over the future of Europe and concerns about whether the basic treaties need to be amended to implement the proposals. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron called for revision of the treaties, while 13 Member States, including Slovenia, expressed reservations.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gašper Dovžan noted that Slovenia wanted to convey the position that all proposals should be taken into account, and that Slovenia does not avoid responsibility or discussion on possible changes to the basic treaties. "Slovenia will, however, emphasise in possible discussions the need to maintain the equal position of small countries and smaller language communities that find it more difficult to reach voters in other Member States," the Ministry said. The idea to assemble a convention on the revision of the treaties of the European Union has meanwhile been endorsed by the President of the Republic Borut Pahor.

The point that the European Union needs change was also indicated by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Member States have differing views on one of the Union's fundamental principles - the rule of law.

On Europe Day, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia published certain data showing how Slovenia is connected with other European Union Member States.