Slovenia is President of the European Union as of today. Over the next 6 months, the country will run all councils and meetings and thus also set the agenda. The presidency is rotating between Member States, but Slovenia is not happy for everyone in Europe.
The presidency is not just a symbolic function. As chairman, a country can put themes on the agenda and slow down or accelerate decision-making on topics. For example, the previous President, Portugal, put a more social European policy on the agenda and a European minimum wage was discussed in detail.
Some EU diplomats hold their hearts. The Prime Minister of Slovenia is right-wing populist Janez Jansa. He got the nicknames Mini-Orbán and Marshal Tweeto. Mini-Orbán because, like Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán, he goes a right-wing populist course. Marshal Tweeto is a reference to former Yugoslav strong man Tito (who had the title of Marshal) and Jansa‘s love for Twitter.
Jansa is an avid user of that medium, as well as former US President Trump, whom he greatly admires. In November, Jansa Trump congratulated his election victory, while Trump hadn’t won the election at all. Like Trump, Jansa has a strong dislike to the media, whom he says to be at war. Other Member States are concerned about how independent media in Slovenia are under pressure. For example, he frozen the grant from an independent news agency.
New State Broadcasting
In addition, members of Jansa‘s party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), set up a TV broadcaster. The state has a majority stake and the broadcaster is funded by Hungarian businessmen who have close ties to their own Prime Minister Orbán. Jansa is a regular guest in that broadcaster’s programs.
The restriction of press freedom in Slovenia is not the only thing a large number of countries are concerned about. The country has still not appointed a prosecutor for the European Public Prosecutor‘s Office. These prosecutors will be required to verify that countries are not committing fraud with EU grants. Each country issues prosecutors, but Jansa refuses to ratify the Slovenian Prosecutor’s nomination.
Tuesday Jansa will present his plans to the European Parliament for the next six months. It promises to be a tumultuous morning. Several MEPs have announced that Jansa wants to shin the fire.