Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

On Wednesday, MEPs debated the state of EU values in Slovenia, focusing on whether the rule of law and media freedom are under threat.

During the debate, many MEPs highlighted that important threats to democracy remain in Slovenia, despite positive developments. Pointing to media defunding, online harassment, legal actions (SLAPPs), and threats against critical voices in Slovenia’s highly polarised political environment, MEPs said government officials (including the Prime Minister) are responsible for efforts to silence perceived critics.

Several MEPs also pointed to political reasons deliberately delaying the appointment of the prosecutors to the EPPO. They also highlighted corruption and the impact of the delayed appointments of state prosecutors to relevant investigations, as well as the threat the Union faces from the proliferation of illiberal political movements in member states.

However, a large number of MEPs stated that most of the issues at the heart of this debate are either resolved or are politically motivated. The appointment of prosecutors to the EPPO was finalised earlier today, they say, recalling also the solution found recently for the funding of the national news agency STA. As a result, many MEPs claimed that respect for European values is not a problem in Slovenia.

The recorded debate with Minister Anže Logar on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council and Commissioner Reynders can be followed here.

Background

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is the new independent public prosecution office of the EU, responsible for prosecuting crimes against its financial interests, such as bribery, money laundering and tax fraud. The participation of Member States is voluntary — currently 22 EU countries, including Slovenia, have opted to participate and delegate their prosecutors to conduct the investigations in their home country. The EPPO started its operations on 1 June 2021. The Commission’s 2021 rule of law report on Slovenia noted that appointment of state prosecutors in the country are unjustifiably delayed, and warned about the failure to nominate European Delegated Prosecutors in a timely manner.

A European Parliament delegation travelled recently to Ljubljana, where MEPs met with national authorities, journalists and NGOs to assess the respect for EU values in the country.