By: Sara Rančigaj / Nova24tv
The Slovenian opposition and opponents of the government are once again trying to undermine the receiving of European funds with the help of their friends in Europe. In doing so, however, they persistently accuse the government of exerting pressure on the media. In a letter, five MEPs and a German MEP called on the European Commission and the European Council to take action on the situation in Slovenia. According to them, due to the pressure on the media and the judiciary, the European Commission should launch a mechanism for making European funds conditional on respect for the rule of law.
In a letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, they warned that European values were under pressure in Slovenia, as they believed that Janša was attacking civil society, the media, and the judiciary. In doing so, they pointed the finger at the (non-)financing of the STA, which was otherwise regulated by the government, and the non-appointment of European delegated prosecutors. Von der Leyen and Michel have not yet responded to the letter.
“We demand the launch of a rule of law mechanism in the EU and pressure on (Prime Minister Janez) Janša to send prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office,” Franziska Brantner, a German MP from a Green party and one of the signatories of the letter, said on Twitter. The procedure of appointing two European delegated prosecutors from Slovenia has been going on for several months because the candidates proposed for this position by the State Prosecutor’s Council, Matej Oštir and Tanja Frank Eler, are not qualified enough, so the government did not familiarise itself with the appointment and annulled the procedure.
As Prime Minister Janez Janša explained, Slovenia will appoint its delegated prosecutors within the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) as soon as the procedure is completed in accordance with national legislation. As he said, Slovenia is not withdrawing from this process, because “we are obliged to carry out a procedure that will be waterproof, and I think it is more important that any suspicion of doubt is removed from this procedure than to hurry”. According to lawyers, there are no obstacles to the national part of the procedure for the appointment of European public prosecutors not being carried out in the same way as for national prosecutors, where the government has greater powers to confirm candidates.
The MPs called for a temporary suspension of the payment of European funds to Slovenia, as according to them it is not possible to investigate corruption and fraud regarding the use of European funds in Slovenia, because it has not yet appointed delegated European prosecutors. According to them, the European Commission should also consider the use of a mechanism for making European funds conditional on respect for the rule of law. It seems that the opposition is doing its best to prevent Slovenia from using European funds and, of course, developing Slovenia in the right direction, and in the past, the same representatives were happy to throw this money out the window. “A handful of left wing members of the European and German parliaments want to prevent Slovenia from using EU funds, and part of the political public even supports this. Sick.” he wrote.
According to the mentioned MPs, Brussels should call on Slovenia to select candidates for members of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) as soon as possible. The selection must be in accordance with Slovenian and European legislation. “The Prime Minister’s interference in this process damages the rule of law standards, undermines the integrity of the new institution and poses a threat that new candidates will be rejected by EPPO,” they wrote. On the other hand, the commission remains in contact with Slovenia regarding the appointment of European delegated prosecutors. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders wrote to the new Slovenian Minister of Justice, Marjan Dikaučič, about this last week, and reminded him again that this is an urgent matter, said spokesman Christian Wiegand.
The Slovenian media and political public support that Slovenia does not receive European funds
The European Council was also called upon to play its part in safeguarding the rule of law, democracy and the integrity of EPPO and the protection of European funds. The six signatories include MEPs Daniel Freund, Sergey Lagodinsky (both Green party), Stelios Kuloglu (GUE/NGL), Ramona Strugariu (Renew) and Lara Wolters (S&D), and German MEP Brantner. Freund, Lagodinsky and Bratner recently visited Slovenia, where they were on a fact-finding mission. Already at the end of the mission, they expressed concern over the situation. It should be added here that they were inspired with concern by Tanja Fajon, the largest exporter of false news about the Slovenian government. Milan Brglez, Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj are also taking part in this.