One of the many appealing things about life in Slovenia is the café scene, especially in the warmer months, with a vast number of places where you can sit outside, relax, enjoy a drink, chat with friends, read a book or watch the world go by. But how do Slovenes compare on a global scale when it comes to, say, having coffee, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol?
With regard to coffee, and based on Euromonitor figures for the amount consumed per capita in 2013 (based on the dry weight of coffee, rather than brewed volume), Slovenia comes 4th globally, with 6.1 kg of the caffeinated beans being turned into stimulating beverages for each citizen over a year. The list is topped by Finland (9.6 kg), Norway (7.2 kg), and the Netherlands (6.1 kg). Italy was in 18th place (3.4 kg), France in 21st place (3.2 kg), and the USA 22nd (3.1 kg).
Turning to tobacco, figures from 2016 indicate that Slovenia ranks 12th in the world for annual per capita consumption of cigarettes, at 2236.5 , or 6.1 a day. The list is topped by Andorra (6398.3 a year, 17.5 a day) and Luxembourg (6330.9 a year, 17.3 a day).
According to WHO data from 2010, Slovenia ranked 24th in the world for alcohol consumption, with the list topped by Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Russia and Romania, France coming 18th, Croatia 20th, the UK 25th and the USA 48th. However, note that a more recent WHO report, from 2018, found that Slovenia had the highest alcohol consumption in the region defined as the EU, Norway and Switzerland, with alcoholism seen as a serious problem in the country.
STA, 17 July 2019 - The rule of law, sustainable development and security in the Western Balkans were laid down as top priorities for Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021 at what was the second preparatory meeting on Wednesday.
The top priorities will expectedly be adopted by the government at its first session in August, the government Communications Office said in a press release.
Following the principle less is more, the government ministers taking part in today's meeting at the Brdo pri Kranju conference centre expressed the view that the three priorities could be the thread running through Slovenia's presidency, the office said.
This will be Slovenia's second presidency after the country entered the EU in 2004. The project is estimated to cost EUR 80 million.
Slovenia will preside over 30 ministerials and more than 2,000 other meetings, most of them to be held in Brussels.
STA, 17 July 2019 - The Constitutional Court has annulled legislation that allows police to use systems for automatic licence plate recognition, finding it contravenes the constitutional right to protection of personal data.
Acting on a petition by the Human Rights Ombudsman, the court annulled part of Article 113 of the police tasks and powers act, which was passed as part of legislative amendments in February 2017.
The contentious paragraph that was annulled provides that police may, for the purpose of ascertaining the conditions for the car and driver's involvement in road traffic, or search of persons and objects, use technical means for optical license plate recognition.
The paragraph also provides that the means need to be applied in a way that prevents mass surveillance or facial recognition.
The Constitutional Court held that the provision contravenes Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the Constitution which says that any action pertaining to personal data, that is every step of their processing, collection, retention, access, transmission, analysis, comparison shall be provided by law.
The court noted that automatic license plate checks involve data collection and their checking against other personal data bases. Each data processing step would require to be specified by law individually.
Since the contentious provision does not specify, nor has the government provided a convincing explanation that other provisions in the act provide for the collected license plate data to be processed by means of automatic checking against other databases, the solution contravenes the requirement of Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the Constitution.
The court will deliberate separately on other contentious issues in the law as argued by the ombudsman, including those concerning provisions on air passenger data and drones.
In the ombudsman's opinion automatic license plate recognition is disproportionate and allows mass surveillance.
The Constitutional Court also annulled parts of some other articles in the act that refer to the contentious provision.
Since the government has notified the court that the police have not put automatic plate recognition into use, the court did not deliberate on potential erasure of data collected in such a way.
Commenting on the decision, Interior Ministry State Secretary Sandi Čurin said that automatic license plate recognition had so far been implemented as a pilot project, and that all data collected would be erased.
Obviously, the police force and the Interior Ministry will respect the court's decision, said Čurin, but added that automatic license plate recognition contributed to road safety, so the ministry and the police would examine the possibility to enact the measure in some other way.
Ombudsman Peter Svetina welcomed the decision, but also noted that the court is yet to decide on other parts of the ombudsman's petition challenging several other provisions that were introduced into the police powers act in February 2017.
STA, 17 July 2019 - The Administrative Court has stayed the telecoms market regulator's decision to strip the company Telemach of a portion of wireless spectrum which it acquired through the acquisition of Tušmobil in 2014.
The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) wanted to take away a portion of wireless spectrum that had been awarded to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008.
The agency wanted to take back two 5 MHz slices of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band on 30 September, planning to release a public call for bids for the spectrum in the meantime.
However, Telemach appealed against the decision with the Administrative Court, which ordered AKOS to suspend all activities in the matter pending the court's final decision, Telemach confirmed for the STA.
The third largest telecommunications provider in the country, Telemach holds about a fifth of the country's mobile telephony market.
The spectrum that is subject to the dispute amounts to less than a tenth of total spectrum that Telemach has at its disposal.
AKOS's decision to withdraw the spectrum was prompted by the Administrative Court, which examined the awarding of the spectrum to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008 and ordered the agency to make a new decision.
The awarding of the spectrum is also the subject of a criminal trial, with former AKOS director Tomaž Simonič charged with abuse of office for giving the spectrum to Tušmobil in exchange for an apartment provided by Mirko Tuš, at the time the owner of Tušmobil.
Telemach acquired Tušmobil in 2014 in a move that bolstered its mobile offerings and made it the number 3 wireless operator in Slovenia.
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
Slovenia's ambassador to EU Lenarčič candidate for commissioner
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec put forward Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's permanent representative to the EU, as the country's candidate for European commissioner. A seasoned diplomat, Lenarčič, 51, has served as ambassador to the OSCE, director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and as secretary of Slovenia's permanent UN mission. "He's experienced, he knows how the EU operates, he's been working in diplomacy for a long time. This is what we presently need," Šarec said. The government is to decide on Lenarčič's nomination on Thursday, but the SocDems are unhappy with the pick, while other coalition parties would not comment and the opposition criticised the choice.
Šarec expects von der Leyen to respect rule of law
LJUBLJANA/STRASBOURG, France - Commenting on the election of Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said he expected she would behave differently than her predecessor. "I expect her to respect the rule of law and not take sides, to be more active when it comes to the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans and to secure equal treatment for all member states," he said. Slovenian MEPs expect von der Leyen to fulfil the promises she made before the vote. Of the eight Slovenian MEPs only the two S&D members voted against her.
Meeting sets three priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Government members met for a second meeting in preparations for Slovenia's presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021 at Brdo pri Kranju, setting out the rule of law, sustainable development and security in the Western Balkans as top priorities. The top priorities will expectedly be adopted by the government at its first session in August, the government Communications Office said. Slovenia's second stint as the EU presiding country is expected to cost the country EUR 80 million.
Constitutional Court bans automatic licence plate recognition
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court annulled legislation that allows police to use systems for automatic licence plate recognition, finding it contravenes the constitutional right to protection of personal data. Acting on a petition by the Human Rights Ombudsman, the court annulled part of Article 113 of the police tasks and powers act pertaining to automatic license plate recognition, which was passed as part of legislative amendments in February 2017. The police has not yet put the contentious provision in practice. The court is yet to decide on other contentious provisions in the law.
NSi seeks to lift statue of limitations for sex crimes
LJUBLJANA - The conservative party New Slovenia (NSi) filed an amendment to the penal code to lift the statute of limitations on prosecution of crimes linked to sexual abuse. Under the penal code the statute of limitations for sex crimes is between 10 and 30 years, depending on the length of prison sentence they carry. NSi leader Matej Tonin said that the statute of limitations was problematic because victims would often not speak out about abuse for years, so the perpetrators might get off the hook.
Ascent Resources turns to Administrative Court over Petišovci gas field
LJUBLJANA - Ascent Resources, the UK developer of the Petišovci gas field in eastern Slovenia, has reportedly launched administrative dispute proceedings in Slovenia after it was ordered to get a separate permit for hydraulic fracturing. The move, reported on Tuesday by the Stock Market Wire news portal, comes after the Environment Ministry upheld the Environment Agency's decision that the investor needs a separate environmental permit for the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci.
Decision to strip Telemach of portion of wireless spectrum suspended
LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court has stayed the telecoms market regulator's decision to strip Telemach of a portion of wireless spectrum which it acquired through the acquisition of Tušmobil in 2014. The Agency for Communication Networks and Services wanted to take away a portion of wireless spectrum that had been awarded to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008, and publish a new call for bids, but Telemach appealed and the Administrative Court suspended the measure pending its final decision.
Immigration trend hit ten-year high in 2018
LJUBLJANA - More than 4,300 Slovenian citizens and some 24,100 foreigners immigrated to Slovenia last year, with the total share of Slovenia's population growth attributable to immigrants being the highest since 2008 - there were almost 15,000 more immigrants than emigrants, according to the Statistics Office. Almost 6,600 Slovenians and more than 6,900 foreigners moved out of the country in 2018. The population growth attributable to Slovenian immigrants was negative for the 19th consecutive year.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
STA, 17 July 2019 - More than 4,300 Slovenian citizens and some 24,100 foreigners immigrated to Slovenia last year, with the total share of Slovenia's population growth attributable to immigrants being the highest since 2008 - there were almost 15,000 more immigrants than emigrants, shows the Statistics Office data released on Wednesday.
Almost 6,600 Slovenians and more than 6,900 foreigners emigrated in 2018.
The share of immigrants increased by 51% last year compared to 2017, while the share of emigrants dropped by 23%.
The population growth attributable to Slovenian immigrants was negative for the 19th consecutive year - Slovenian emigrants exceeded Slovenian immigrants by almost 2,250 persons, while the immigration trend of foreigners remained positive for the 20th consecutive year.
Most foreigners who came to Slovenia (almost 50%) hailed from Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by citizens from Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Croatia.
On the other hand, Slovenians returning back to the native country usually migrated from Germany and Austria (24% and 17%, respectively), followed by Switzerland, the UK and Italy.
A quarter of Slovenians who moved out of the country in 2018 went to Austria, with the rest emigrating to Germany, Switzerland and Croatia.
Most foreigners who left Slovenia behind moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina (24%), Germany, Serbia and Croatia.
Slovenia's internal migrations decreased by some 7% in 2018 on the previous year, totalling almost 104,000 changes of residence (some 89,500 Slovenians and around 14,500 foreigners).
Almost half of people moving within the country were aged 20-39 years, with the majority (80%) moving to another municipality.
Foreigners were again more mobile than Slovenians - among the former, one out of ten moved at least once in 2018 on average, while one Slovenian out of 24 changed the place of residence on average.
More details on these figures can be found here
STA, 17 July 2019 - PM Marjan Šarec has put forward Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's permanent representative to the EU, as the country's candidate for European commissioner. Describing the career diplomat as an experienced expert, Šarec told the press that coalition partners had already been notified of the proposal, which will be discussed by the government on Thursday.
"He is experienced, he knows how the EU operates, he has been working in diplomacy for a long time. This is what we presently need," Šarec said about Lenarčič.
A seasoned diplomat, Lenarčič has also served as ambassador to the OSCE, as director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as secretary of Slovenia's permanent UN mission, and as diplomatic adviser to the highest state officials.
Šarec said he had been weighing different options carefully since the EU election and came to the conclusion that, given the composition of the government, Slovenia needed a neutral candidate.
He also noted that his Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the fellow coalition SocDems had each secured two MEP seats as the most successful coalition parties in the recent EU election, which is why he would not have found it fair to have the candidate come from either of the two parties.
He said that many opportunities had been missed by Slovenia and that it is right to give a chance to somebody who knows the workings of the EU. Šarec is confident that the fellow coalition parties will also recognise the national interest of Slovenia and the importance of unity.
"If I look at the interests of Slovenia and the expectations of people outside, I'm convinced that this is the right decision," the prime minister said, adding he had waited a little before making his choice public to prevent a smear campaign against Lenarčič.
The SocDems, who had rooted for their MEP Tanja Fajon, responded to the news by speaking of a unilateral decision that sent an unpleasant message.
Criticising what they see as political horse-trading that led to the election of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president with the support of far-right votes from Hungary and Poland, the SocDems said they expected "Slovenia would have acted differently and pick a Slovenian commissioner candidate with democratic legitimacy as a key condition" alongside competences, experience and reputation.
Šarec also touched on Fajon today, saying he found it hard to imagine how her participation in the Commission would be possible after the MEP had publicly denied support to von der Leyen.
As for von der Leyen's wish to have member states each put forward a male as well as a woman candidate, Šarec said he expected most countries would not do that.
He argued having two candidates would spell trouble for the rejected one: "We know what happens with candidates who are not selected."
Asked which department on the Commission Slovenia would like, Šarec said it would strive for one of the departments suiting it the most, one of the options being enlargement. He said he had already discussed the topic with von der Leyen.
Commenting on his expectations regarding the new Commission head, Šarec said he expected she would behave differently than her predecessor.
"I expect her to respect the rule of law and not take sides, to be more active when it comes to the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans and to secure equal treatment for all member states," he said.
In his first reaction, Lenarčič spoke of a great honour and responsibility, while stressing that this was only the first step in the appointment process.
He said that the trust expressed in Lenarčič by the PM now needed to confirmed by the government. If this happens, he will first also have to win the trust of von der Leyen and then also of the relevant committee in the European Parliament.
STA, 17 July 2019 - Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's current ambassador to the EU who has been proposed for the post of European commissioner, is a career diplomat. He has served as ambassador to the OSCE, as director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as secretary of Slovenia's permanent UN mission, and as the PM's diplomatic adviser.
Lenarčič, born in Ljubljana on 6 November 1967, graduated in international law in Ljubljana in 1992 and started working for the Foreign Ministry the same year.
Between 1994 and 1999 he worked with Slovenia's permanent mission at the UN, initially as the third and then as the first secretary. In 2000 he started serving as adviser to the foreign minister and the following year he became the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister, the late Janez Drnovšek.
In 2002 and 2003 Lenarčič worked as state secretary in the PM's office, to be appointed in 2003 the head of the Slovenian mission to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). During Slovenia's OSCE presidency in 2005 he headed the organisation's permanent council.
In 2006 he was appointed state secretary for European affairs, serving also during Slovenia's first presidency of the EU in 2008 during the centre-right government of Janez Janša. He was the head of the task force in charge of preparing Slovenia's EU presidency.
In July 2008 he was appointed director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and confirmed for a second and final term at the same post in May 2011.
In September 2014 Lenarčič became state secretary in the office of the then PM Miro Cerar, where he was in charge of foreign and European affairs.
He served under Cerar's centre-left government until July 2016 when he took over as Slovenia's permanent representative to the EU.
When assuming office in Brussels, Lenarčič highlighted migration and an effective control over the external border among Slovenia's as well as the EU's priorities. Another Slovenian priority noted was the country's presidency over the EU in 2021.
Lenarčič is considered an apolitical expert and has been in the conversation for the commissioner post for some time.
He speaks English, French and Serbian.
Twice a year the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy in Ljubljana awards grants that typically range from $3,000 to $5,000 (with an upper limit of $10,000) to projects that aim to present and promote the values, culture or history of the US to Slovenian audiences using the language of art, music, dance, literature or other cultural forms. A total of $70,000 is given out each round, and about 20 projects are supported.
The next deadline for applications is August 12 (2019), for projects beginning from October 2019 to April 2020, while the following one is in March 2021 for projects running May to October 2021. You can see details of previous winners in this PDF, for grants given in 2015.
While full details of the programme and how to apply can be found here, before clicking be aware that, to quote the website:
The Embassy has historically been most interested in projects relating to:
The U.S. Embassy will NOT fund the following types of projects:
More details of how to apply can be found here, and don’t worry about the same people or organisations getting the money each time, as priority is given to new applicants
STA, 16 July 2019 - Orpea, a French multinational that specialises in assisted living services, has entered the Slovenian market via its Austrian subsidiary Senecura by purchasing a retirement home in Radenci, eastern Slovenia, called Dosor.
Senecura purchased the facility earlier this year from Radenci municipality and the Austrian bad bank Heta and plans to use it as a springboard for Slovenia, having previously acquired the licence to build several small retirement homes around the country with a total of 310 beds.
The company, the biggest private operator of retirement homes in Austria, acquired Dosor because of the quality of care it provides, favourable location and its reputation in Slovenia, Senecura board member Anton Kellner told the press on Tuesday.
Radenci municipality sold its 50% stake for EUR 1.5 million, while the rest was acquired with the purchase of Heta's EUR 7.6 million in claims to Dosor.
Dosor has 178 beds and 100 employees. It was built as a public-private project in 2008.
Together with the planned network of small retirement homes, the acquisition puts Senecura on track to compete with the biggest Slovenian private provider of elderly care, Deos, which has eight facilities in Slovenia.
There are currently over 100 elderly care facilities in Slovenia offering just over 20,000 places, most of which are publicly owned and operated by municipalities.
All our stories on the elderly in Slovenia are here
STA, 17 July 2019 - Ascent Resources, the UK developer of the Petišovci gas field in eastern Slovenia, has reportedly launched administrative dispute proceedings in Slovenia after it was ordered to get a separate permit for hydraulic fracturing.
The move, reported on Tuesday by the Stock Market Wire news portal, comes after the Environment Ministry upheld a decision of the Environment Agency (ARSO) on the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci.
The ministry agreed that an environmental impact assessment and a separate environmental permit were necessary because the location of the gas wells was close to water sources and because underground waters and agricultural land in the area do not have very good ability to regenerate.
"The decision of ARSO and the Environment Ministry ignores the opinion of the six independent expert bodies whose advice ARSO sought," Ascent said.
The decision mistakenly concluded that the project fell within a conservation area and misapplied EU case law in relation to mitigation measures, Ascent also said as it announced multi-pronged legal action against Slovenia on 14 July, a day before the deadline for the Administrative Court appeal.
Aside from challenging the decision at the Administrative Court, Ascent plans to submit a claim for damages against the state for breach of EU law including for the unreasonably long time it took for the decision to be reached.
The company will seek damages for loss of future income from the project "which would have been expected to have been a multiple of the historic investment of some EUR 50 million."
It also plans to lodge an investment treaty arbitration claim under the Energy Charter Treaty.
All our stories on Ascent Resources are here
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
Šarec and Židan also expect date for N Macedonia EU talks in October
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's expectation that the EU will give North Macedonia the green light to start accession negotiations in October was reiterated as Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Parliamentary Speaker received North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski. Šarec and Pendarovski, who chose Slovenia as the first country to visit since assuming office in May, focused on bilateral relations and the inclusion of North Macedonia into Euro-Atlantic alliances. Židan said it was important that countries striving for EU membership be treated individually, on the basic of their achievements.
Anti-graft watchdog looking into Kangler inquiry
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has initiated proceedings against the National Council on suspicion that ethics and integrity of the upper chamber of parliament have been violated through the initiative for a parliamentary inquiry into prosecution of councillor Franc Kangler. The anti-graft watchdog's letter urging the National Council to hand over the documents pertaining to the initiative for the parliamentary inquiry for the purpose of anti-graft proceedings was published by Kangler on his Twitter profile on Monday.
French multinational enters Slovenian elderly care market
RADENCI - Orpea, a French multinational that specialises in assisted living services, has entered the Slovenian market via its Austrian subsidiary Senecura by purchasing a retirement home in Radenci, eastern Slovenia, called Dosor. Senecura purchased the facility earlier this year from Radenci municipality and the Austrian bad bank Heta and plans to use it as a springboard for Slovenia, having previously acquired the licence to build several small retirement homes around the country with a total of 310 beds.
Ombudsman urges office holders to refrain from hate speech
LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina has urged holders of public office to refrain from hate speech, a response to a far-right MP saying how he would shoot a migrant who recently stabbed a taxi driver. "All holders of public office and politicians must refrain from discriminatory and hateful statements, written or spoken, that belittles, intimidates or harms anyone in any way," Svetina said. His statement comes after National Party (SNS) MP Dušan Šiško told the parliamentary Home Policy Committee on Monday that "I would send a shot in his head" when he referred to an Iraqi man who recently assaulted a taxi driver and was shot in the leg by police.
Two migrants cross Drava into Slovenia with five children
ORMOŽ - Two migrants were apprehended by Slovenian police officers in the Ormož area Monday evening after they crossed illegally into the country across the Drava river with five children. According to a press release from the Maribor Police Administration, an Iraqi national crossed the border river with four children and a Syrian with one child. Starving, the children and adults were given food and water before being taken to an asylum centre where they applied for international protection.
Turnišče eyeing EUR 14 million investment
TURNIŠČE - An investor is reportedly interested in buying a large plot in Turnišče, eastern Slovenia, to build a EUR 14 million plant for the production of electric vehicles, the municipality revealed. The municipality is in the process of selling three hectares of land in an industrial zone valued at EUR 168,000. Turnišče Mayor Borut Horvat told the STA that a company looking for a car production location for a foreign investor is interested in the plot. While refusing to reveal the company's name, Horvat said the municipality had been in talks and had signed a memorandum of understanding. The investor has an Egyptian and a Slovenian director.
Slovenia's Roglič renews contract with Jumbo Vismo
LJUBLJANA/AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič has renewed his contract with the Dutch Team Jumbo-Visma until the end of 2023. The agreement has been reached through a verbal promise and is to be signed in the upcoming days, Slovenian media reported citing the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. The cyclist's current contract with the Dutch bicycle racing team would expire in 2020. Roglič, who is one of the hottest cyclists in the market at the moment, will thus continue to race for the Jumbo-Visma team, participating in multi-stage races, including the three major ones - the first one, the Tour of Spain, will take place at the end of summer.
Slovenian mountaineer dies in Pakistan
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian mountaineer Janez Svoljšak, a member of the Kranj Alpine Association, died on Monday during an expedition in Pakistan, the Slovenian Alpine Association (PZS). The 25-year-old from Škofja Loka (NW) died in a base camp under the 6,650 m Tahu Rutum mountain in the Karakoram mountain range. He was an established mountaineer, having conquered peaks in Pakistan, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies as well as Montana and Colorado in the US. His career highlights include climbing the Schmidt route up the North Face of the Matterhorn alone as well as a sole single-day ascent to the summit of Mont Blanc via the Innominata ridge - both achievements are considered a tour-de-force of mountaineering.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here