Prime Minister Janez Janša summed up Slovenia's goals in the negotiations on the EU's 2021-27 budget and recovery plan in Brussels on Thursday by saying the final agreement should be as close as possible to the European Commission's proposal and that it should be clinched as soon as possible.
Addressing reporters after meetings with President of the European Council Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Janša said it was clear compromises would be required, but the nearer the final agreement to the Commission's proposal, the better it would be for Slovenia and most member countries.
Considering that the coronavirus pandemic is not over yet and that time means money, Janša appealed for fast steps and a quick agreement in order to show the capacity to respond and come up with solutions.
The recovery package for Europe, which the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed into its worst recession ever, is one of the major themes of Janša's talks with top EU officials in Brussels.
He expects the president of the European Council to put forward a new negotiating proposal for the leaders of EU countries to attempt to reach a compromise at a summit next weekend with the goal being to clinch a deal before summer break.
The package comprises the EU's next seven-year budget of EUR 1.1 trillion and a EUR 750 billion recovery plan, two-thirds of which are to be in the form of grants and one third in the form of loans.
To make borrowing possible, the Commission would increase the headroom - the difference between the own resources ceiling of the long-term budget (the maximum amount of funds that the EU can request from member states to finance its expenditure) and the actual spending.
With the headroom as a guarantee, the Commission would raise funds in the markets to finance the repair of the economic and social damage of the crisis and prepare for a better future.
The measure would need to be ratified by the parliaments of member countries.
The key sticking points remain the size of the multi-year budget and the recovery plan, the ratio between grants and loans and the formula for the calculation of national envelopes and the conditions under which the funds would be allocated.
Slovenia supports the European Commission's proposal as an excellent basis for negotiations, including the proposed allocation of refundable and non-refundable funds.
Michel said on Twitter that he talked with Janša about the multi-year budget, recovery plan and efforts for a stringer and more resilient Europe and the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021.
Janša also met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today. The pair focussed current European issues, including the revised proposal for the next EU budget and the new recovery instrument as well as measures pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic, said Janša's office after the meeting.
Von der Leyen meanwhile posted on Twitter that it was great to receive Janša during his first visit to Brussels since assuming office in March. She said that they discussed Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency and preparations for the coming EU summit.