Small Slovenia will have a big 2007

Photo: European Commission

Finland has wrapped up its EU presidency with a summit in Brussels and now planning passes to the next three - Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. That makes 2007 a big year for tiny Slovenia because it also adopts the common European currency the Euro on January ist. The incoming EU troika has given Insight Central Europe a look at its EU presidency progamme.

Photo: European Commission
As the year draws to a close, Finland's presidency of the European Union also comes to a finish. Its goals remained largely unfulfilled: Turkey had its candidacy temporarily put on ice, and relations with Russia were soured despite vigorous attempts at improvement. The problem of the EU constitution, which was hobbled during referendums in France and Holland, remains a looming problem. The upcoming troika - Germany, Portugal and Slovenia -- will have this and more to deal with. The three countries have hammered out a programme for the next 18 months.

In Ljubljana, State Secretary for European Affairs Janez Lenarcic presented the programme together with ambassadors from Germany and Portugal. Their collaborative work was a first, as Mr. Lenarcic explains:

"This is the first time that three consecutive presidencies prepared such a program and this work was done very well. It went very smoothly. We were treated as three equal partners and I think that the outcome is a very good programme. It's a realistic programme that shows the direction of the work of the EU in the next 18 months."

Also on hand was the German ambassador to Slovenia, Hans Joachim Goetz, who explained the themes that will top the agenda in the next year and a half. Mr. Goetz:

"Certain themes will extend throughout the presidencies. For example, the topic of energy has been taken up by Slovenia already. There's the topic of culture and schools, which will extend until the year of 2010, but there's already been agreement between our two countries. Also, I fear that the issue of the constitution will be left to Slovenia at the end."

Besides energy policy, Slovenia has also committed its term to the subjects of the bloc's future, the Lisbon strategy, and intercultural dialogue. As for the thorny issue of the consitution, Germany has promised to present a proposal on what to do, while Portugal and Slovenia will work to find a conclusive solution to the problem.

Each country will also push for more dialogue within their general area. Germany will focus attention on its Eastern neighbors, Portugal on Africa, and Slovenia on the western Balkans. The three countries have also been in contact with the next troika, which will include France, the Czech Republic and Sweden.