Brussels looks at Slovenian presidency with suspicion

BRUSSELS (Agencies): Slovenia holds the presidency of the European Union from today. Over the next 6 months, the country will lead all councils and meetings and thus help determine the agenda. The presidency rotates between the Member States, but not everyone in Europe is happy with Slovenia.

The presidency is not j-ust a symbolic function. As chairman, a country can put topics on the agenda and d-elay or speed up decision-making on topics. For ex-ample, the previous president, Portugal, put a more social European policy on the agenda and there was e-xtensive discussion about a European minimum wage.

Marshal Tweeto

Some EU diplomats hold their breath. The Prime M-inister of Slovenia is the right-wing populist Janez Jansa. He has been nicknamed mini-Orbán and Ma-rshal Tweeto. Mini-Orbán because, like Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán, he is sailing a right-wing popul-ist course. Marshal Tweeto is a reference to the former Yugoslav dictator Tito and Jansa’s penchant for Twitter.

Jansa is an admirer of former US President Trump. In November, he congratulated him on his election victory, even though Trump hadn’t won at all. Like Trump, Jansa has a strong aversion to the media, against whom he says he is waging war. Other Member States are concerned about how the independent media in Slovenia is under pressure. For example, he has frozen the subsidy of an independent news agency.

New state broadcaster

In addition, members of Jansa’s party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), have established a TV broadcaster. The state has a majority stake and the broadcaster is also financed by Hungarian businessmen who have close ties to their own Prime Minister Orbán. Jansa is therefore a regular guest in the programs of that broadcaster.

Restricting press freedom in Slovenia is not the only concern of many countries. The country has still not appointed a prosecutor to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. These prosecutors will soon have to check whether countries are not committing fraud with EU subsidies. Each country delegates prosecutors, but Jansa refuses to ratify the nomination of the Slovenian Public Prosecution Service.

Next Tuesday, Jansa will present his plans for the next six months to the European Parliament. It promises to be a tumultuous morning. Several MEPs have announced that they want to put Jansa to the test.

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