By: C. R.
Peter Šuhel, the Chief of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet in the government of Janez Janša (2020-2022) and the International Secretary of the Slovenian Democratic Party, spoke to Voice of Europe. In the interview, he commented on current political developments in both the EU and Slovenia, offering his perspective on the happenings in the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Commission, and on potential alliances and challenges facing the European Union.
The European People’s Party has been the largest force in the European Parliament for decades, currently counting more than 80 members and partners. Šuhel emphasised that in such a large party, conflicts and disagreements are understandable, but the most important thing is that members have always known how to respect each other. He highlighted that what is considered conservative in Slovenia does not necessarily mean the same in Poland or Luxembourg. Unfortunately, in recent years, some differences within the EPP have become more apparent to the public.
Šuhel expressed his belief in an alliance between the European People’s Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) but regretted the lack of cooperation at the parliamentary level. He proposed a pre-election alliance between the EPP and ECR, emphasising the need for a strong conservative coalition to address challenges. He was critical of the current alliance between the EPP and the left political wing, noting its tendency to disregard agreements and be aggressive in its ideology, seeking to incorporate it into practically every resolution regardless of the topic.
Regarding the potential cooperation between the EPP and ECR, Šuhel expressed optimism about such a coalition in the upcoming mandate. He believes that such collaboration is crucial for the long-term survival of the EU.
Šuhel labelled the exclusion of Fidesz from the EPP as one of the biggest strategic mistakes of the EPP in the last decade, as it weakened the party. He attributed Fidesz’s exclusion to personal grudges and disagreements over migration policy, praising the response of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to migration back in 2015.
Regarding the European elections next year, Šuhel predicts that conservative forces will achieve significant gains in the next mandate. He also pointed out that in these elections, we will not only decide on the composition of the European Parliament but also on the existence of the EU.
Peter Šuhel spoke critically about the abuse of power by the European Commission, particularly highlighting double standards in dealing with member states. He pointed out the cases of Poland and Hungary, where, in his opinion, the European Commission uses legal tools for political purposes and attacks conservative governments. He also addressed Slovenia, where he noted that instead of taking action against the left-wing government for violating the Constitution in the case of RTV, the European Commission actually praised such behaviour.
Regarding the Transparency Register, originally established to monitor interest groups, lobbyists, and advisors, Šuhel believes that it is not functioning effectively. He highlighted instances of corruption occurring in the middle management of EU institutions, where actual policymaking takes place. As an example, he mentioned the Qatargate scandal, which was not revealed in a timely manner due to inadequate transparency. He also emphasised the non-transparent actions of the European Commission, especially Commissioner Věra Jourová, who intervened in Slovenian justice in the case of RTV and then, at the request of Dr Zver, refused to hand over documentation related to her visit to Slovenia.
Šuhel believes that the Lisbon Treaty, which defines national competencies and the principle of subsidiarity, should be fully respected. He called for accountability of commissioners to strengthen democratic principles in the EU and highlighted what he perceives as a left-leaning orientation of the European Commission and EU institutions.
Regarding the EU migration pact, Šuhel opposes mandatory relocation and believes that it sends a message of open doors, increasing the risk of illegal migration. He stated that he has no issue with legal migration, expressing the view that “every country can decide whom to invite, just like inviting friends into your house – only the invited are welcome; in your home, you probably would not want people who enter by breaking a window.” He also warned about the increase in crime and assaults associated with illegal migration. To address the current migration crisis effectively, he proposed strict control of the EU’s external borders, a return policy, and the establishment of centres outside the EU to process asylum applications. He emphasised the need to respect the European way of life on European soil and to expel those who violate our laws.