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President Pahor, European Council President Van Rompuy, and students on the future of Europe

Ljubljana, 3. 2. 2014 | press release

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, today received the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who is currently on an official visit to Slovenia. After a one-to-one meeting between the two presidents, they went on to participate in a panel debate on the future of Europe, held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana.

The debate focused on the topical issue of changes in the workings of the EU, providing students at the Faculty of Law with an opportunity to engage in a discussion with President Pahor and European Council President and learn about their position on the planned changes and their view of the future of Europe. Both presidents strongly advocated the European idea and further integration.

President Van Rompuy stressed that it was vital for people to know that the European Union would survive. However, despite positive indicators, we must also be aware that the problems have not been solved yet and that trust in institutions, particularly banks, must be restored. When trust is restored, he said, we will return to economic growth. The crisis began long before 2008, because we failed to solve structural problems when we established the euro area, he said. We underestimated the problems, and now we need to build a sounder banking and monetary union. A lot has been done, but the work is not over yet, he stressed.

The European Council President highlighted the important role of Slovenia in the Western Balkans, considering that establishing peace and stability in the region, which was torn apart by war less than fifteen years ago, is crucial to the European Union. He refuted suggestions of "enlargement fatigue", as during the crisis, two new Member States have joined the euro area, Croatia joined the EU, while Serbia began negotiations for EU membership. In his view, reconciliation, particularly between Serbia and Kosovo, is of paramount importance. In this regard, he highlighted the Brdo Process initiative, describing it as very important for strengthening the prospects for the region’s future in Europe and its stability.

President Pahor and President Van Rompuy emphasised that EU enlargement was crucial to strengthening relations between countries, adding that, in the future, Europe will have to define how it will increase its competitiveness, while maintaining a strong social base. They tried to answer the question of how to overcome the EU’s democratic deficit and achieve the right balance between further federalism and the preservation of Member States’ national identities. President Pahor shared his vision of integration towards a United States of Europe in which national identities would be preserved. He said that Slovenia would also have to be part of this process, providing that it retains the Slovenian language and cultural identity before further transferring rights to Brussels. In his view, the EU must continue its efforts to harmonise tax policies and create a common European Central Bank.

At the close of the debate, President Pahor thanked President Van Rompuy for his readiness to take part in the discussion and for his visit, which is already his sixth to Slovenia. He also called on young people to think about the future of Europe and to think outside the box.

President Pahor, European Council President Van Rompuy, and students on the future of Europe
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA