Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First Presidency of a new member state: Slovenia leads the way

Source: Concord Flash 48, January 2008

The Slovenian government is taking its job seriously and has been preparing for its Presidency of the European Union (EU) for more than a year now. At stake is not only the country's image, as one of the most deserving in terms of European integration efforts, but also the burden that will be placed on its civil service, 10% of whose staff will be working on the presidency.

The key priorities for the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union have been decided, within the framework of the common programme established at the end of 2006 with Germany and Portugal to cover an 18 month period. Slovenia has also worked with France to ensure the best meshing of their presidencies and action priorities although the partnership with Mediterranean countries will not be one of its priorities as it is for France.

The four main priorities for the Slovenian presidency are:
  • Enlargement: prioritising the Balkan states joining the EU and the continuation of talks with Turkey.
  • Future of Europe: work will concentrate on a smooth Treaty ratification process.
  • The Lisbon Strategy: prioritising the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment, including energy policy and climate change.
  • Inter-cultural dialogue: Slovenia will make the most of 2008 as the European Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue to organise events with European civil society in the EU and the Balkans.
Regarding development policies, the Slovenian presidency is focusing on finalising the European Partnership Agreements, development education and the situation of children and women affected by armed conflict. Indeed, the first big event of the Presidency was the presentation of the study entitled "Enhancing the EU response to children affected by armed conflict" which took place in Brussels on 11 January. CONCORD’s photo exhibition, and members, were there as well.

CONCORD and SLOGA, the national platform of Slovenian Development NGOs is working closely with the Slovenian government. SLOGA's aim is to enable the Slovenian public to link their own lives with those of people throughout the world – with a special focus on Africa and the Balkans – and to increase people’s understanding of the interrelation between economic, social, political and environmental factors as the main causes of poverty.

The Slovenian NGO project is addressing the issues of climate change, aid effectiveness, development education and social inclusion (intergenerational dialogue with a focus on Africa, traficking of women, migration with a focus on women and children, and advocacy for children).


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