Slovenia in the European Union
Ever since the declaration of independence, the Republic of Slovenia has expressed its readiness and goal to become a full member of the European Union in strategic development documents and at the highest political level. One year after the declaration of independence, in 1992, Slovenia applied for a Europe Agreement and for support in restructuring and consolidating the economy. Through many years of negotiations, an agreement was reached on the conditions of Slovenia's accession, Slovenian legislation was adjusted to European rules, and some exceptions and transitional periods were agreed.
Since 1 May 2004, Slovenia has been a full member of the EU. In addition to the financial and developmental advantages of EU membership, Slovenian citizens have the opportunity to find employment in other Member States, and travel within the EU after Slovenia's entry into the Schengen area has been greatly simplified. On 1 January 2007, the Republic of Slovenia deepened its ties with other EU countries, when as 13 countries it adopted the common European currency - the euro, which significantly simplifies the operation of companies and the payment of citizens. The presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2008 was also a great challenge for the young Slovenian state. In the second half of 2021, Slovenia will preside over the Council of the for the second time.
Slovenians in EU institutions
By joining the EU, Slovenia transferred some of its sovereign powers to the EU, and in turn gained the right to participate on an equal footing in the shaping of EU policies and legislation. The legal documents and decisions adopted at the level of the EU became part of the Slovenian legal order and affect the life of Slovenian citizens.
But the EU policies and legislation are not shaped in a vacuum, in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg only. On the contrary, Slovenians play an active part in the work of EU institutions and bodies, be they politicians, state officials or experts:
- The Commission has a Slovenian Commissioner who represents the joint interests of the EU. The Commission's directorates also employ a number of Slovenian citizens who, likewise, represent the interests of the EU. The Commission’s expert groups include several Slovenian government and non-government experts that assist the Commission in drafting documents and measures. Slovenian Commissioner in the European Commission
- The Council of the EU comprises government representatives who act in Slovenia's interest and champion its positions. This includes representatives of different ministries and government offices as well as members of the Permanent Representation of Slovenia to the EU at the level of state and elected officials.
- The European Parliament has eight Slovenian members, elected directly, who represent the political interests of European citizens. Slovenian Members of the European Parliament
- The European Council is the institution in which the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia represents the political interests of Slovenia. Sometimes, the PM is accompanied to the European Council's meetings by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and increasingly, by the State Secretary responsible for European Affairs or the Finance Minister, depending on the topics on the agenda.
- The European Economic and Social Committee has seven Slovenian members that represent the interests of employers, trade unions and other interest groups.
- The European Committee of the Regions includes seven Slovenian members and their deputies who act in the name of two representative organisations of Slovenian local communities: the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia and the Association of Municipalities of Slovenia.
- The Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors both employ Slovenian citizens, but they work in full autonomy both from the interests of Slovenia or the interests of the EU's institutions.
- The Governor of the Bank of Slovenia sits in the Governing Council of the European Central Bank while other experts from the Bank of Slovenia operate in its working bodies. The ECB is the central bank of 19 EU Member States, tasked with maintaining price stability in the euro area and so preserve the purchasing power of the single currency.