Ljubljana related

12 Apr 2019, 12:30 PM

https://english.sta.si/2625564/uk-slovenian-chamber-of-commerce-panel-welcomes-brexit-extension

UK-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce Panel Welcomes Brexit Extension, Not Continued Uncertainty

STA, 11 April 2019 - Participants of panel on Brexit hosted by the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce agreed on Thursday that the deadline extension means more time for the best possible solution, meaning one based on a deal.

British Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey believes the extension of Brexit until 31 October does not mean a prolongation of uncertainty but more time for the best possible approach.

UK Trade Commissioner for Europe Andrew Mitchell highlighted the close trade ties between the UK and the EU, pointing out trade with EU countries accounted for more than half of Britain's foreign trade last year.

He said a no-deal Brexit would have substantial consequences for the economy and agreed the extension provides an opportunity to reach a deal and enable the firm economic ties to be preserved in the future.

The UK wants a detailed free trade agreement with the EU that would cover customs and regulatory cooperation so as to allow companies to continue to trade in a similar fashion they are doing now, Mitchell said.

As for the Brexit-related developments in the British parliament, Honey spoke of the biggest challenge for the government in several generations, while Mitchell believes time will show that this was the "most profound democratic exercise".

Honey stressed on the sidelines of the event that the UK has been part of the EU for 45 years. EU membership touches on practically all facets of life, while the referendum result was 52% vs 48%, which is why she feels it is normal that an extensive discussion is under way now in the UK.

The uncertainty regarding future relations has so far not shown in the trade between the UK and Slovenia - Slovenian exports rose by 11% last year, while imports from the UK were up 15%.

However, similar growth should not be expected after Brexit, said the head of the Foreign Ministry sector for bilateral economy cooperation Iztok Grmek.

A number of companies who do business with the UK also attended the event, but they were left without concrete answers regarding what they can expect after Brexit.

One example is aircraft maintenance firm Adria Tehnika, whose key client is the British air carrier Easyjet.

"We participated in the transfer of a part of their fleet from the British to the Austrian registry last year, but part of the fleet remains registered in the British registry. The question is what this means in terms of customs duties and the license and whether we should seek a special license with the English registry," Adria Tehnika's commercial director Mirjana Tratnjek Čeh illustrated.

All out stories on Brexit are here

11 Apr 2019, 09:26 AM

STA, 10 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has expressed regret about the European Commission's lukewarm response to the media reports that Croatia had been behind the border arbitration scandal and that it had even tried to prevent the revelations from being published.

 

Arriving in Brussels on Wednesday for an EU summit dedicated to Brexit, Šarec said he had expected the Commission call for respect for the rule of law and declare pressure on the media unacceptable, in particular when they came from a neighbour country.

Šarec also commented on criticism at home that he was trying to create a state of emergency ahead of the EU elections. "There's no state of emergency. We have responded to the pressure, we've convened the National Security Council because there was a series of initiatives for that, and I find that's right."

"We cannot be humble all the time, turning the other cheek, we must speak out when things are wrong. We've done that too. This doesn't mean we're creating a state of emergency, there's no state of emergency," Šarec said.

Related: A timeline of the Slovenia-Croatia border dispute

The National Security Council met yesterday in the wake of a report by the commercial broadcaster POP TV that an intermediary working on behalf of the Croatian government had sought to prevent its news portal from running a story last week proving that the Croatian intelligence agency was responsible for intercepting the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration in July 2015, which Croatia used as an excuse to withdraw from the arbitration process.

He said that it was a perfectly justified reaction to summon the Slovenian ambassador to Croatia to come to Ljubljana to explain the situation, and to summon the Croatian ambassador for talks, which was to show Slovenia as a sovereign country with its own position.

"If in the past our leaders were too servile, I cannot help it. I act the way I think is right," he said.

Asked whether he planned to discuss the matter with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković and EU leaders, Šarec said that he always exchanged a few words with Plenković at the summit and that they would also have a word at the summit of China and 16 central and east European countries in Croatia's Split on Thursday.

"As far as I know Croatian journalists have joined in the protest against such interference in the media," Šarec said, referring to the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists backing the Slovenian Journalists' Association in condemning the pressure on POP TV.

Provided an opportunity, Šarec plans to have a word about the issue with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, but he does not believe he will get any other answer from the one already issued by the Commission. "The time has obviously come for elections and for change," he said.

Šarec will tell Plenković that the rule of law must be observed and that pressure on the media is unacceptable, he said. "We expect Croatia to refrain from such acts, to implement the arbitration award as soon as possible, and to stop with the practice that is not in Slovenia's or Croatia's interests."

The European Commission did not wish to comment on the revelations yesterday, saying this was a bilateral affair. The Commission reacted in a similar way the day before when asked to comment on Hungary's protest over the cover of the Mladina magazine portraying the Hungarian PM.

Šarec – May “brings nothing new to the table” on Brexit

STA, 10 April 2019 - Slovenia continues to support as short a delay of Brexit as possible, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said as he arrived for the latest EU's Brexit summit in Brussels on Wednesday. We fear that Britain, should it hold the EU election and stay a member, would not be constructive, he said.

"You know how it is in politics. There are no guarantees in politics. All these safeguards to be adopted potentially can only be political. Should for instance a change of power occur in Great Britain, we have no way of knowing who comes after Theresa May and how they would behave," the Slovenian PM said in his doorstep statement.

He reiterated that what mattered most was not Britain but how the EU will function. "In case a blockade occurred, if we found ourselves in a situation where the institutions are blocked, we'd be in serious trouble."

Šarec does not know what to expect from tonight's developments, arguing that "Theresa May arrives each time to explain things while she brings nothing new to put on the table".

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

10 Apr 2019, 10:24 AM

STA, 9 April 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his visiting Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell supported an orderly Brexit as the best option after talks in Ljubljana on Tuesday, indicating they were not opposed to another delay. The pair expressed their countries' mutual interest in a further enhancement of bilateral ties.

"A no-deal Brexit is not desired but it's not a horror," the Spanish minister told a joint press conference in response to a question by a Spanish journalist whether he would prefer a horrible end to Brexit or an eternal horror.

He added that he did not find another Brexit extension a horror because it would not be infinite, and that "Brexit will have an end."

Cerar agreed that everyone favoured a Brexit based on a deal. "Should there be a no-deal Brexit, Slovenia will be ready for it, although we don't want it, because a consensual path is the better path," he said.

Slovenia can understand the UK's desire to delay Brexit, but it is necessary to ensure a stable and efficient functioning of EU institutions in the future, Cerar said, adding that extending the Brexit deadline would be sensible unless it led to a crisis of EU institutions, thus harming the UK and the rest of the EU.

"The 27-nation bloc cannot become hostage to the United Kingdom because of their uncertainty, that is a situation in which they don't see yet how to implement Brexit in a right way," Cerar said.

Cerar said he and Borrell agreed it was important for the EU to remain united, closely integrated and that EU member countries continue to cooperate well with each other.

This is why it is important to have a good turnout in the EU elections, to tell people it is important to live together and that there is a desire to prevent divisive forces from prevailing, in order to preserve peace for the future generations.

The ministers also called for strengthening further what they said was already a good bilateral relationship between their countries. Cerar said Slovenia was keen to preserve a positive trend of trade seen in 2017 and 2018, when the volume of merchandise trade reached 1.2 billion euro.

They also hailed a strengthening of tourism exchange between the two countries and the fact that Slovenia was a popular destination for Spanish Erasmus exchange students and Spain ranked as the most popular destination for Slovenian students.

Borrell thanked Slovenia for understanding over the Catalonia issue.

Asked about the trial of the imprisoned independence leaders, he said it was not a political process but a trial of the politicians who had responsibilities. "They may have a responsibility of a criminal nature, but it is up to judges to decide."

Cerar said that Slovenia was following the developments and that the procedures must be conducted in accordance with Spanish legislation and the rule of law. "It's an internal affair of the Spanish judiciary that we cannot interfere in, although we wish for a conclusion," Cerar said.

Catalonia's expectations for more independence were also one of the topics discussed as Borrell was received by President Borut Pahor.

Borrell presented the current situation in Spain before the upcoming early elections and the government's efforts for dialogue, Pahor's office said in a press release.

Other topics included the excellent and friendly bilateral relations, as well as the EU and Brexit, and the situation in the Western Balkans.

The pair shared a view that the EU should be strengthened so that it can provide for security, progress and welfare.

Pahor hopes May's EU election result will enable the European Parliament to form a strong and pro-European coalition willing to face up to future challenges.

He reiterated his view that these will be the most important elections to the European Parliament since they were first held in 1979.

Pahor also told Borrell he was in favour of an orderly Brexit to minimise negative consequences for the citizens and economies of both countries.

The pair exchanged views on the EU prospects of the Western Balkans and potential incentives for the region to continue with reforms despite a slowdown in enlargement.

Pahor reiterated his view the enlargement should be seen as a geopolitical question rather than a technical issue.

08 Apr 2019, 11:49 AM

Brexit znova odložen

Brexit postponed again

Written by Sonja Merljak Zdovc, translated by JL Flanner & G Translate

Se spomniš brexita?

Do you remember Brexit?

To je tisti referendum, na katerem so volivci v Veliki Britaniji odločili, da ne želijo biti več del Evropske unije.

This is the referendum in which voters in the UK decided that they did not want to be part of the European Union anymore.

Takrat je veljalo, da bodo Evropsko unijo zapustili 29. marca letos. Toda bolj ko se je bližal ta datum, bolj je kazalo, da iz te moke ne bo kruha.

Then it was said that the UK would leave the European Union on March 29 this year. But the closer it came to this date, the more it seemed that there would be “no bread from this flour”. [Idiom: nothing would come from this].

Kaj se bo zgodilo v prihodnjih dneh z britanskim izstopom iz Evropske unije, ne ve nihče. Poslanci so doslej zavrnili še vse predloge britanske vlade.

Nobody knows what will happen in the coming days with Britain’s exit from the European Union. [British] MPs have so far rejected all proposals by the British government.

Brexit naj bi se namesto 29. marca zgodil 12. aprila.

Brexit is due to happen on April 29th instead of March 29th.

A premierka Theresa May je znova zaprosila za podaljšanje časa za izstop.

Prime Minister Theresa May again asked for an extension of the exit date.

Če Britanci ne bodo želeli sodelovati na evropskih volitvah, ki bodo med 23. in 26. majem, bodo morali poslanci sporazum o ločitvi Velike Britanije in Evropske unije potrditi še pred 22. majem.

If the British do not want to participate in the European elections of May 23-26, MPs will have to confirm the agreement on the separation of Great Britain and the European Union before May 22.

V zadnjem mesecu je sicer šest milijonov Britancev podpisalo peticijo, s katero želijo preklicati brexit.

In the past month, six million Britons signed a petition calling for Brexit to be cancelled.

 Read more stories and improve your Slovene at Časoris, while all our dual texts can be found here.

25 Mar 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 22 March 2019 - The government macroeconomic think-thank has estimated that the direct impact of a no-deal Brexit on Slovenia would be small, while the indirect impact through the countries with which Slovenia does most of its trade would be greater but also harder to measure.

The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD – Urad RS za makroekonomske analize in razvoj) has found based on various studies that the long-term effect of a no-deal Brexit on Slovenia would be between -0.2% and 1% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Meanwhile, the impact of an orderly exit of the UK from the EU would be smaller, estimated at between -0.1% and -0.25% of the country's GDP.

This would hold true in the case of the confirmation of the current Brexit agreement, which envisages the UK remaining part of the customs union, IMAD said in its latest publication on macroeconomic trends.

"Introduction of customs duties would decrease the volume of bilateral trade between Slovenia and the United Kingdom, with the electrical, automotive, pharmaceutical and metal industries suffering the largest negative effect."

According to the think-tank, also to be somewhat affected would be exports of services, in particular tourism and transport.

Since the direct connection of the Slovenian and British economies is relatively small (Slovenia generates 1.9% of its exports in the UK), the direct negative effect on exports and GDP would be small.

An indirect effect would be somewhat bigger due to Slovenia's trade connections with Germany and France, which are major trade partners of the UK.

All our stories about Brexit are here

21 Mar 2019, 17:30 PM

STA, 21 March 2019 - Regardless of how Brexit unravels at the political level, the lives of British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK may change. According to British Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey, the Embassy and the Slovenian government are working together to provide continuity for the people and make it clear that they remain welcome.

 

In the event of a negotiated Brexit, measures are in place to ensure things run smoothly for the people in a transitional period until the end of 2020. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the status of citizens in the respective countries will depend more on bilateral talks with each country, Slovenia included.

"While the nature of our relationship will change as and when the UK leaves the EU, all of our planning is focussed on trying to ensure that this change isn't felt so directly day-to-day. That's what our priority has been with the government here," Ambassador Honey said in an interview with the STA.

"That is why the commitments [the Slovenian government] have given to protect the status of British nationals here - are really important. And we continue to work through some of the key issues and make sure that we have everything in place."

The Slovenian government has now adopted a bill on reciprocal rights for British citizens residing in Slovenia, of whom there are around 700; about 5,000 Slovenians have made the UK their home.

Ambassador Honey says her Embassy has been "in very close touch with the Slovenian government" as well as the Slovenian Embassy in London. "I'm reassured that we've had a very similar approach and stance on this. Key to that has been a shared sense of the importance of continuity for our citizens, for people who have made their homes in each other's countries."

"This period is undoubtedly complicated, but I'm still optimistic about the future and everything that needs to be done so that cooperation continues," she said.

The Embassy has held a series of outreach events across Slovenia in recent weeks to talk to British nationals living here and address any issues and concerns they may have.

"We've been doing a lot of outreach in the British community to reassure people that both in the case of a deal or in the case of a no deal Brexit, they are still welcome here and the Slovenian government wants them to stay and to protect their rights."

"The Slovenian government has made clear - including now through legislation - that British people living in Slovenia would be entitled to stay and retain their status and be able to work and live here as previously."

Some concerns are very fundamental - others are more practical.

"Many people ask me: 'What's the stance of the Slovenian government towards us?' And I reassure them - all the messages I've received from the Slovenian government are that yes, the government welcomes the British community and wants to enable the people to stay and continue their lives here as until now."

At a more practical level, British people living in Slovenia have raised specific questions - for example about residency, driving licences, access to healthcare and pensions.

People have asked about access to pensions in the future as well as whether their access to healthcare remains the same.

For most of those who have temporary or permanent residence in Slovenia, their health insurance is covered by the employer.

For some people reliant on a special type of reciprocal cooperation within the EU called S1 forms, the details are still being worked out with the Slovenian government. Such people have been advised to check their cover and make sure they have at least basic cover, according to the ambassador.

Companies, meanwhile, are mostly interested what will happen so that they can plan for that and deal with it, but this is challenging. "It's difficult to tell businesses exactly what will happen. What we have tried to do is to explain the most likely scenarios."

Having talked to companies doing business in the UK, the Ambassador said she has seen a pragmatic determination to continue cooperation - businesses say they will find a way. There are very strong links that go many years back, and new opportunities ahead. Despite the potential change in conditions Slovenian companies are determined to continue doing business with the UK.

What will not change is that Slovenia and the UK have an overall "strong relationship that predates the time either of us were EU members and that will continue," according to the ambassador.

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

21 Mar 2019, 12:50 PM

STA, 20 March 2019 - Prime Minister Miro Cerar reiterated at a session of the Foreign Policy Committee on Wednesday Slovenia's position that it would make sense to postpone Brexit, but not beyond the date of the May EU elections. He also expressed hope the situation in Serbia will not escalate.

Asked about Brexit, Cerar said that in case a justified reason for a postponement of the deadline is put forward, Slovenia will be ready to support this within reasonable limits. Presently, Cerar is waiting for the message of British Prime Minister Theresa May at the EU summit.

He assessed that 23 May would probably be the latest deadline, since going beyond that would raise a number of questions, including of legal nature, that would have to be resolved by the European Council.

Repeating a deal would be in the best interest of everyone, Cerar said Slovenia was also ready for a no deal Brexit, having prepared an emergency bill governing the rights of Slovenians in Britain.

Meanwhile, quizzed by coalition SocDems MP Milan Brglez about Slovenia's take on the US no longer seeing the Golan Heights and other territories under Israel's occupation as occupied, Cerar said Slovenia's positions remained unchanged.

Thus Slovenia supports a peaceful process and a two-state solution with Palestine within the 1967 borders. Cerar repeated Slovenia would recognise Palestine if or when a group of EU members also decides to do so.

Asked by Brglez about European parliament President Antonio Tajani's recent statement about Benito Mussolini "also having done some good things", Cerar said the statement was met by a quick response from members of the European Parliament, which is supported by the Foreign Ministry.

Tajani issued a public apology "and we find that this ends this story". Still, if this repeats, the Foreign Ministry will have to respond, Cerar added.

As for the developments in Serbia, a topic raised by coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) MP Ivan Hršak, Cerar said he was following them closely and was concerned. He hopes that things will not escalate and that the conflict in the country will be resolved in a democratic manner in line with the rule of law.

Zmago Jelinčič, leader of the opposition National Party (SNS), wanted to find out if Slovenia planned to rescind its recognition of Kosovo.

"I believe our recognition of Kosovo was justified," Cerar said, while adding Slovenia was aware that a number of issues remained open in the region.

Another issue raised was Croatia's decision to limit transit for heavy trucks at the Petišovci border crossing (NE) at the start of 2019. Cerar said that business has asked the relevant ministries to intervene with Croatian authorities and that the situation has already been discussed at an interdepartmental meeting.

21 Mar 2019, 07:12 AM

STA, 20 March 2019 - The National Assembly passed on Wednesday the act addressing potential uncertainties and safeguarding the rights of Slovenian citizens in Great Britain and vice-versa in case of a no-deal Brexit. The government-proposed act was endorsed by 50 of the 66 present MPs, while four voted against.

The act aims to preserve rights related to social security, labour market access, cross-border services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, family allowances and scholarships for the period until 31 December 2020.

While a more long-term solution will be drawn up to tackle the period after 2020, the government said that the reciprocity principle was envisaged for certain rights, meaning they will be secured for British citizens only if the same is done in the UK for Slovenian citizens.

The act also envisages a transitional period after Brexit during which British citizens will be able to continue to legally reside in Slovenia on the basis of permits issued to them as EU citizens.

It will enable them to obtain residence permits of the kind that are being issued in the form of biometric IDs to citizens of third countries, while obtaining long-term residence status will also be possible.

Moreover, the act regulates the tourist stay rights for British citizens for a duration of up to 90 days in case they arrive in Slovenia before the date of the UK's departure from the EU.

If British citizens do not have a valid residence registration certificate or a residence permit before Brexit and enter Slovenia after Brexit, their entry and residence will be regulated by the provisions of the foreigners act in place for citizens of countries that are not part of the European Economic Area.

Many MPs said during the debate on the fast-tracked act that the current situation surrounding Brexit was rather uncertain, and that Slovenia should thus prepare for the worst-case scenario or a no-deal Brexit.

Some of them also pointed out that the status and rights of Slovenian citizens in the UK and vice versa must be preserved, and that reciprocity in the protection of their rights should be ensured.

The deputy group of the opposition Democrats (SDS) had announced it would abstain from voting because the act was incomplete and failed to provide sufficient protection to the estimated 5,000 Slovenian citizens in the UK.

The SDS was also critical of the government for coming up with such an act only days ahead of the scheduled date of Brexit.

The opposition Left said that the act was being discussed relatively late, while Zmago Jelinčič of the opposition National Party (SNS) said the proposal was a "mess and completely absurd".

All our stories about Brexit are here

18 Mar 2019, 19:24 PM

STA, 18 March 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, speaking to the press on the margin of the EU Council for Foreign Affairs session on Monday, believes a Brexit postponement until 23 May would be an option.

 

He is in favour of a Brexit postponement until 23 May at the latest, that is until the EU elections, provided that the British parliament backs the exit deal.

Cerar feels this could be the right way if the EU-27 is united on it and if it is very clear what both sides want to achieve, he told the press in Brussels.

"If extending the deadline brings more clarity without endangering the EU's unity and European institutions, then it would make sense and I'll support it."

Making sure EU institutions function normally means it is clear who takes part in them; in case of Brexit, UK representatives cannot be MEPs and cannot become commissioners, the minister explained.

He reiterated it was very important to make sure EU citizens, including Slovenian ones, enjoyed the same rights as now after Brexit, stressing he had been reassured today this would be the case.

However, as things stand now, the British parliament is hardly likely to back the exit deal it has rejected twice already.

It is also not very likely the next vote will take place on Tuesday as planned at the moment, since a rejected accord cannot be put to another vote without any changes.

An EU source meanwhile said today the EU-27 could decide on a UK postponement request as late as "an hour before midnight", or just before the scheduled exit date of 29 March.

All out stories on Brexit are here

18 Mar 2019, 10:45 AM

STA, 15 March 2019 - The government adopted on Friday a bill addressing potential uncertainties and safeguarding the rights of Slovenian citizens in Great Britain and vice-versa in case of a no-deal Brexit.

 

The bill, which has been submitted to the National Assembly in fast-track procedure, aims to preserve rights related to social security, labour market access, cross-border services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, family allowances and scholarships for the period until 31 December 2020.

A more long-term solution will be drawn up to tackle the period after 2020, the government Communication Office said.

It stressed that the reciprocity principle is envisaged for certain rights, meaning they will be secured for British citizens only if the same is done in Great Britain for Slovenian citizens.

The bill also envisages a transitional period after Brexit during which British citizens will be able to continue to legally reside in Slovenia on the basis of permits issued to them as EU citizens.

It will enable them to obtain residence permits of the kind that are being issued in the form of biometric IDs to citizens of third countries, while obtaining long-term residence status will also be possible.

Moreover, the bill regulates the tourist stay rights for British citizens for a duration of up to 90 days in case they arrive in Slovenia before the date of Britain's departure from the EU.

If British citizens do not have a valid residence registration certificate or a residence permit before Brexit and enter Slovenia after Brexit, their entry and residence will be regulated by the provisions of the foreigners act in place for citizens of countries that are not part of the European Economic Area.

All our stories on Brexit are here

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