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Prime Minister Golob: Europe Day is celebrated on Victory Day

It is now 73 years since French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman drafted the declaration establishing the European Coal and Steel Community. The basic aim of this idea, which was conceived only a few years after the end of the Second World War, was to establish closer cooperation between countries in such a way that war between them would no longer be not only unacceptable, but also unfeasible.

Prime minister dr. Robert Golob

Prime minister dr. Robert Golob | Author Office of the Prime Minister

From this community, today’s European Union has emerged. It is no coincidence that we celebrate Europe Day on the day of the victory over Nazism and Fascism, when the Second World War officially ended in Europe and the commitment to the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights became the cornerstone of the new Europe.

As stated in the preamble of the Treaty on the European Union, the countries of Europe are uniting to form the European Union, taking into account the historical significance of the end of the division of the European continent and the need to create a solid foundation on which to build the Europe of the future. Russia’s terrible aggression in Ukraine has brought the importance of peace and unity in Europe even more to the fore.

Today, the European Union is much more than a community of peace, democracy and the rule of law. It is the largest single market in the world, offering citizens the freedom to live, study or work anywhere in the EU. For purposes of employment, social security and taxation in another EU country, as an EU citizen, you have the right to be treated in the same way as citizens of that country. Thanks to roaming rules, EU citizens can use telephone and internet services in another Member State at no extra cost. These are things that we may take for granted today. But it is indeed a great success in integrating European countries into the European Union.

As early as June 1991, when Slovenia became an independent and autonomous country, its strategic documents included the goal of full EU membership. Slovenia became a member of the EU on 1 May 2004, together with nine other countries. It is now officially part of the European house. Additionally, it has acquired the right to co-determine and co-shape European rules and policies. Slovenian citizens and businesses have unhindered access to European countries and markets. The European budget has made more than €10 billion available to Slovenia in the current 2021–2027 budgetary framework, in addition to more than €4 billion in grants and loans under the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.

And last but not least, Slovenian has become an official language of the European Union. Being in the European Union does not mean not being Slovenian. On the contrary, EU membership has given Slovenia many opportunities to promote and protect its culture and language.

EU membership not only offers benefits, but it also imposes responsibilities. Responsibility for proactive and constructive engagement in EU policy-making in a way that protects Slovenia’s interests. Responsibility for designing appropriate projects and drawing funds from the EU budget available to Slovenia. But responsibility is also needed to protect fundamental values and freedoms which, despite the fact that we live in the 21st century, are still under threat on a daily basis. Even in the European Union. One of the things worth fighting for is the preservation of the border control-free area, the Schengen area. The latter is one of the European Union’s greatest successes, but despite its recent expansion to Croatia, it is still not working as it should.

Europe Day is a day of unity, friendship, solidarity and the success of constructive integration for the benefit of all. Together we are stronger and together we can do more. In fact, we need to do more. This is all the more important today, when wars are fought nearby, when climate change threatens our quality of life, and when our citizens are also facing the rising prices of basic necessities and other consequences of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Europe Day is also a day of victory over Nazism and Fascism, a reminder of how we must strive every day to share the values of democracy, freedom and mutual respect. Let me therefore conclude with a still relevant thought from the Schuman Declaration: “Peace cannot be secured without creative efforts commensurate with the dangers that threaten it.” Therefore: forward with courage, Slovenia, forward with courage, Europe!