STA, 17 February - Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has assessed that the EU 7-year spending plan recently proposed by European Council President Charles Michel is still inadequate for Slovenia. There are slight improvements in cohesion policy in comparison with the previous proposals, but this is not enough, Cerar believes.
The foreign minister assessed the compromise proposal for the 2021-2027 EU budget to the press in Brussels on Monday as he is attending a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.
Cerar pointed to the Slovenian priorities, which are keeping cohesion funds at an appropriate level, an appropriate solution for Western Slovenia, the more developed of the two Slovenian cohesion regions, and an increase in funds for rural development.
The minister noted that the outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec was the main negotiator, and that Foreign Ministry State Secretary Matej Marn would represent Slovenia's position at a working meeting in the afternoon.
This will be the first meeting after Michel presented the proposal based on talks with the EU 27 leaders, which is not significantly different than the December proposal by the Finnish EU presidency, which satisfied no one.
Michel has proposed a budget worth EUR 1,095 billion or 1.074% of the gross domestic product of the EU 27. This is very close to the Finnish proposal and much less than the European Commission's proposal, but still much more than the net contributors would be willing to pay.
Support for new Libyan action
Cerar also announced that the EU would launch a new operation in the Mediterranean Sea to ensure the implementation of the embargo on arms imports in Libya, which was to upgrade the current operation Sophia.
The EU wants to be active on land, at sea and in the air in preventing arms trafficking which facilitates conflict in Libya, he said, adding he was happy that a commitment had been made today at the political level.
According to Cerar, specific aspects of the new operation are yet to be defined, which is something the EU foreign ministers will discuss at the next meeting, in March.
It is important that the EU does not allow the vacuum which is being created in Libya and around it to be filled by countries such as Turkey and Russia, he said, adding that the EU must show it was a partner to Africa.
Cerar noted that the operation would cover a slightly different area than Sophia, as it would be focused on the east of the Mediterranean, on the routes used to bring arms to Libya.
He stressed that it should not be understood as an invitation for migrants as it was a military, and not a humanitarian operation. "If migrations increase because of the operation, it will have to be aborted."
The purpose of the operation is to mitigate the conflict and find a political solution for the hot spot that is Libya, Cerar said, adding that land operations remained a sensitive element.