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State Secretary Štucin presents the importance of the MLA Conference to the EU General Affairs Council

State Secretary Marko Štucin attended the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels. Ministers and state secretaries for European affairs focused on preparations for the European Council, EU-UK relations and the rule of law.

When discussing the draft conclusions for the EU Heads of State meeting, State Secretary Štucin reiterated his support for Ukraine. He drew attention to the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia and supported the initiative to ensure accountability for these crimes. In this context, he welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, for the illegal deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia. "The MLA Conference hosted by Slovenia in May 2023, which will negotiate the adoption of a convention on mutual legal assistance and extradition for the most serious crimes, can help in the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine," stressed State Secretary Štucin. The ministers and state secretaries were joined at a working lunch by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Olha Stefanishyna, with whom they exchanged views on the reforms Ukraine is undertaking as part of its efforts to move closer to EU membership.

State Secretary Štucin welcomed the planned discussion of heads of state on competitiveness, the single market and economic resilience. In this context, he stressed the importance of strengthening the internal market, especially in services, the role of SMEs, the close link between trade and industrial policy, and an ambitious, fair, sustainable and open EU trade policy based on an updated multilateral trading system. He pointed out that the EU is facing a challenging process of decarbonisation of all sectors of industry and that their restructuring will have a significant impact on existing value chains. He expressed his agreement in principle with the objectives of the proposal for a Net Zero Industry Act. In this context, he pointed out that we need a broader EU industrial agenda that supports the green transition of all industries.

In the energy debate, State Secretary Štucin welcomed the progress made on joint gas purchases, which will contribute significantly to strengthening the EU's energy security. He also stressed that it is important for Slovenia to take into account national circumstances and efforts to achieve the green transition. On electricity market reform, he spoke in support of changes that will help the deployment of renewable energy sources and ensure stable and fair prices for citizens and businesses.

The General Affairs Council went on to adopt two decisions, building on the political agreement reached in February 2023 on the Windsor Framework. State Secretary Štucin voiced his view that the agreement represents an important step towards enhanced EU-UK cooperation, including in the area of citizens' rights.  

In the framework of the regular annual dialogue, the ministers and state secretaries for European affairs also exchanged views on the state of the rule of law in five Member States (Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic) and discussed documents relating to the European Semester 2023.