STA, 9 October 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel, the next president of the European Council, expressed optimism on Wednesday over the Brexit situation as Michel visited Slovenia. The pair believes the UK and the EU could reach an agreement.
Šarec also said that he was convinced Michel as the new president of the EU Council would respect the rule of law including in Schengen zone enlargement.
Michel, Belgium's caretaker prime minister who will take over at the helm of the EU Council in December, hopes London and Brussels could reach a Brexit deal, highlighting that both sides would need to show willingness for finding a solution in the coming weeks.
"I'd like to send an optimistic and positive message," said Michel at the press conference after the talks. "Willingness is not a guarantee for success; it's not a guarantee that a solution will be possible. However, without willingness there will be no solution in any case."
The Slovenian prime minister was likewise optimistic about the UK and EU reaching an agreement, adding "the matter has been dragging on for too long and is standing in the way of tackling important issues ahead of us".
"Naturally, we would all be most pleased if we could forget about this sad chapter of EU history and find another solution," said Šarec.
But in politics one needs to be a realist and Slovenia has always pursued this path, added the Slovenian prime minister.
"Slovenia is always aspiring to the rule of law; a manner which has been slightly stunted recently when some political connections have rather taken centre stage. I believe that the new European Commission will act differently," said Šarec.
"I know Michel is a politician who respects the rule of law and advocates EU values, and I'm convinced he will remain such as the president of the EU Council," responded Šarec when asked about his expectations regarding the new president's attitude towards the Slovenian-Croatian border arbitration dispute.
"However, every member state has a duty to consider whether this EU community should be based on the rule of law or on the principle of everybody trying to gain the most for oneself regardless of law or the rights of others. I believe we will definitely cooperate on this grounds in the future," Šarec said.
The pair also discussed the EU's multi-annual financial framework for the 2021-2027 period.
Šarec presented in more detail to Michel Slovenia's key views and expectations regarding the budget negotiations, which are expects to be wrapped up under the new EU Council presidency.
The Slovenian prime minister called for a swift agreement and said that Slovenia wanted a balanced financial framework which would properly tackle current EU challenges and would not lead to a further reduction of cohesion and rural development funds.
Meanwhile, Michel said that it was important to him as well to be aware of Slovenia's priorities in the negotiations.
The pair also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans - Šarec again highlighted the importance of an EU future for the region and said he expected that North Macedonia and Albania would get a go-ahead for the start of EU accession talks at a summit next week.
Michel's visit to Slovenia is part of his preparations for assuming his new EU top job. He said that the visit was very important since he wanted to lend an ear to Slovenia and find out about the country's concerns regarding current issues.
The next EU Council president highlighted that doing so he could then make more informed decisions "to lead the EU in the right direction and to be closer to citizens of Slovenia and other EU countries".