Minister Dr Cerar and Bavarian State Minister Dr Herrmann discuss EU future with citizens
In Škofja Loka, Foreign Minister Dr Miro Cerar hosted Head of the State Chancellery and Minister of State for Federal and European Affairs and Media of Bavaria Dr Florian Herrmann, who is attending a session of the Permanent Slovenian-Bavarian Mixed Commission and consultations with citizens on the future of the Union.
The visit is aimed at further strengthening the excellent bilateral and economic relations. As an economic partner, Bavaria is the third most important German federal state for Slovenia, with trade in 2018 amounting to EUR 2.27 billion. The interlocutors emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation in all areas of common interest and agreed that numerous unexplored opportunities remain, especially as Slovenia and Bavaria are both active in the Danube and Alpine regions. The ministers attended the plenary of the 31st session of the Permanent Slovenian-Bavarian Mixed Commission, followed by the signing of a joint protocol on numerous projects of mutual interest, i.e. cooperation in the economy, housing policy, construction and transport, administration, firefighting, police and the judiciary, education, culture and science, agriculture, forestry, food, and the environment.
The visit was also devoted to European topics, with an exchange of opinions and discussion with citizens on the EU’s challenges and its orientation in the rapidly changing globalised world. At a public consultation in Škofja Loka, the ministers discussed with citizens the EU in our lives and sustainable regional development and cooperation. Minister Cerar drew attention to the fact that Slovenians feel strongly about the EU, and during the discussion on the way forward, impact, and role of the EU he underlined that the EU is based on freedom, common values, the rule of law, human rights, and solidarity, but it is also constantly developing and seeking even better ways to respond to global challenges. He called on all participants to more actively engage in shaping the EU – either by participating in public consultations on EU legislation and in the European citizen initiative, or by joining various active citizenship projects. He went on to emphasise the importance of cooperating and transcending nationalism, as well as combating populism and the spread of fake news. His key message was that in a globalised world no country is an island; together we are stronger and only together can we effectively respond to global issues. Since the participants expressed concerns as to the effectiveness and role of the European Union, Minister Cerar asked them what their lives would be like without the EU, the Euro as the common currency, travelling without passports in the Schengen area, European programmes, the free movement of persons, services, capital and goods, and the Erasmus programme.
State Minister Herrmann emphasised the importance of a pan-European discussion on the future of the EU – a regular practice also in Bavaria. Europe must be close to the people.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall is a great reminder of the impressive progress that EU has achieved in comparison with competing countries of old, the State Minister said. Populists and extremists must not be allowed to diminish or trample these values. He went on to express satisfaction that the dialogue took place in Škofja Loka, a twin city of Freising in Bavaria – his hometown.
The ministers concluded their programme with a visit to the Škofja Loka-based company Polycom, which provides innovative and comprehensive development solutions for the automotive and other industries, the recipient of the Delo Business Star Award in 2018.