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Reaction to the final State of the Union Address by President of the European Commission in this mandate

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today delivered the final State of the Union Address at the European Parliament in this mandate, assessing the political priorities achieved and providing an overview of the challenges ahead of next year's European elections.
Nagovor predsednice Evropske komisije Ursule von der Leyen, videti je celoten Evropski parlament in spredaj novinarje in fotografije, ki od daleč fotografirajo predsednico

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen | Author EU

The State of the Union Address outlines the European Commission's plans for the coming year and has a direct impact on Slovenia's engagement within the Union. "The EU's responses to global events such as the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that it stands united and will always stand in solidarity with people in need. The EU should engage more with the world, extend its reach to the Western Balkans and our Eastern partners, and develop decision-making processes to be more effective," said Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon in response to the speech by President von der Leyen.

In her address, the President focused on climate change, the effects of which Slovenia also faced this summer in the form of natural disasters, to which the EU immediately responded with solidarity. Slovenia was promised up to 400 million euros from the Solidarity Fund for flood recovery and remains in close contact with the European Commission, including on the financing of further flood relief.

The President's speech was expectedly interspersed with reactions to the developments in Ukraine. Slovenia endorses the view that Ukraine should be provided with assistance for as long as necessary, including the announcement of the extension of temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees and an additional 50 billion euros in EU financial aid over the next four years.

Slovenia remains a strong supporter of EU enlargement, which is of geostrategic importance for both the EU and Slovenia. In this context, we expect important steps to be taken by the end of the year. The rule of law and fundamental rights are the cornerstones of a successful enlargement, and we strongly support the President's initiative to include the acceding countries in the existing EU Rule of Law mechanisms. For a successful enlargement, the EU will have to adapt its functioning accordingly, and the announced preparation of pre-enlargement reviews of EU policies, the EU budget and the functioning of the institutions of an enlarged EU is a case in point. Slovenia's position is that further enlargements should not wait for amendments to the EU Treaties.

The speech focused on the green transition as a cornerstone for mitigating and adapting to climate change and underscored its importance for Europe's future competitiveness. The Slovenian Government welcomes the announcements of concrete initiatives to strengthen the green transition. Slovenia is actively involved in the adoption of European climate legislation. The green transition will be a major test for both European and Slovenian industries. It is important that Europe supports industry, provides incentives and responds appropriately in cases of distortion of competition from other countries. In this respect, we support the approach envisaged by the President von der Leyen, who stressed the importance of constructive dialogue aimed at reducing risks.

We also support the call to preserve biodiversity, promote sustainable farming and ensure food security, and we share the European Commission President's assessment of the key challenges to the competitiveness of the European economy, with a focus on the planned measures for small and medium-sized enterprises and the employment of young people and women.

Slovenia continues to actively pursue its ambitious commitments on nature and water. Last year saw a major achievement – the approval of the general approach on the proposal for a regulation on nature restoration, which enabled the Environment Council to create a common basis for negotiations with the European Parliament to begin. The regulation includes proposals to improve and restore degraded or damaged terrestrial, coastal, freshwater, agricultural, marine, forest and urban ecosystems, to contribute to the sustainable restoration of nature, to achieve the EU's climate change objectives and to prevent biodiversity loss. The legislative proposal also follows the objectives and commitments of the European Green Deal and the EU’s biodiversity strategy.

In the area of digitalisation, we are committed to ensuring that the EU remains a leader in the regulation of artificial intelligence. It is crucial that AI development is human-centred, transparent and accountable.

The New Pact on Migration and Asylum is a unique opportunity for effective migration management. For Slovenia, it is particularly important to protect the EU's external borders and cooperate with third countries, especially those of the Western Balkans. We therefore support Bulgaria's and Romania's membership of the Schengen area and are working towards a more active approach to restoring its full functioning. In this context, Minister Fajon and Minister Poklukar have consistently stressed the importance of a common deal on EU migration policy and the need for a fully functioning Schengen area, one of the greatest assets of European integration. Minister Fajon added that "as a global actor, we should do more to strengthen our relations with our partners and bridge the gaps in this highly polarised world."

President von der Leyen assessed that more than 90% of the policy priorities set out at the beginning of this mandate have been implemented. Slovenia will continue to participate constructively in the adoption of European Commission measures that are in the interest of citizens.