Media in Slovenia reported that the Slovenian EU presidency will lead the dialogue based on the second report of the European Commission’s annual rule of law, which will be issued at the beginning of Slovenia’s six-month term. Controversy over the binding of EU funds for the rule of law will continue and it is not yet clear what will happen to the proceedings against Poland and Hungary.
The rule of law, one of the priorities of the Slovenian EU presidency, is discussed in three parallel processes.
The first is the country-specific rule of law report, the second is Article 7 proceedings against Poland and Hungary, which have been stalled for some time, and the third is an opportunity to make EU funding conditional on respect for the rule of law. to the law.
The second report, expected in July when Slovenia takes over the presidency, will play a key role in future discussions. The report aims to ease tensions in the EU.
What followed first, published in September 2020, were polite exchanges of thoughts and practices. The European Parliament has criticized it for not being effective enough or ambitious.
The Slovenian Presidency will follow the same framework for discussing the report as decided by the German Presidency, which means that it will start with a general discussion and end with a separate discussion held by EU justice ministers. .
Slovenia will chair the general horizontal discussion on the rule of law situation around the EU, which is expected to take place at the October session of the General Affairs Council, as well as a discussion on individual member states, which is expected to take place in November. said STA the official spokesperson of the Slovenian Permanent Representation to the EU.
In line with the alphabetical order, a country-specific discussion during the Slovenian presidency will focus on Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia and Lithuania.
Slovenia will promote a culture of rule of law, strive to achieve a better understanding of different national systems through dialogue, and strengthen ties between member states based on common European values.
“The Slovenian presidency believes that a good understanding of the similarities and constitutional, socio-economic, political, historical and all other similarities and differences between the member states can facilitate the strengthening of the rule of law in the EU,” the spokesman said.
The implementation of Slovenia’s proposal to set up the European Institute for Constitutional Democracy could also facilitate the discussion on the rule of law.
However, it is not yet clear how the proceedings against Poland and Hungary will take place during the Slovenian mandate. Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, a mechanism for dealing with governments that put EU values at risk, provides for the suspension of all voting rights as the most radical sanction.
For the situation to reach this point, a consensus must be reached, but so far this has not been the case. There is not enough support between EU countries to launch any kind of measures against Poland and Hungary, so the proceedings have been in a stalemate.
The June meeting, where EU ministers are expected to discuss this, could shed light on what will happen in this regard during the Slovenian presidency.
When it comes to the third parallel process, a mechanism that would make EU funding subject to the rule of law, it will not be used until the European Court of Justice has ruled on the matter.
Slovenia, meanwhile, has been under scrutiny over media freedom and other aspects of the rule of law by both the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The parliamentary monitoring group for democracy has so far held two hearings on the situation in Slovenia. Media freedom in Slovenia was also a topic of Parliament’s plenary session in March.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and his government to be in close contact with European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, who has sounded the alarm on several occasions in in recent months the Commission has also condemned Janša’s verbal attacks against journalists.
The first rule of law report raised concerns about online harassment of journalists in Slovenia and threats against them, warning of a weak response from the judiciary.