STA, 16 April 2021 - Slovenia has raised in an informal talk with Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations Maroš Šefčovič the issue of unequal treatment of EU member states by the United Kingdom when it comes to payment of work visas.
After the exit of the UK from the EU, citizens of Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia are not eligible for the EUR 55 discount when applying for a work visa in the UK that is enjoyed by citizens of the remaining EU member states.
The Slovenian Permanent Representation in Brussels said on Friday it had noted in the talk as part of the Committee of Permanent Representatives that this unilateral decision put EU citizens in an unequal position and that the issue needed to be raised in future talks with the UK.
The UK argues that the discount applies only to the countries that signed and ratified the original European Social Charter from 1961.
The five listed countries, which signed and ratified the 1996 Revised Charter, on the other hand maintain that this is discrimination that needs to be eliminated.
STA, 23 February 2021 - Slovenia is working with member states whose nationals must pay higher fees for UK work visas to end this discrimination, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan said on Tuesday.
Member states which are discriminated against raised this issue at Tuesday's meeting of Europe ministers. "There is of course solidarity between member states to go ahead with the ambition to end this discrimination," he said.
Dovžan would not speculate on the reasons for the difference in fees beyond saying that the issue concerns which version of the social charter which member state ratified; Slovenia ratified the latest version.
He noted that the exit agreement as well as the agreement on future relations determines bodies competent to address such issues. These fora will be used if this issue is not resolved otherwise.
After the UK left the EU, nationals of Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia are not entitled to a 55-pound discount on work visa fees that other EU nationals are eligible for.
Slovenian MEPs have recently said the EU must insist on equal treatment of all EU nationals.
STA, 5 February 2021 - Several Slovenian MEPs expressed the view on Friday that the EU must insist on equal treatment of all its citizens, as they responded to a report that citizens of five EU countries, including Slovenia, will have to pay more for their UK work visas. Slovenia also called on the European Commission to take action.
The news portal Politico reported today that citizens of Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania are not eligible to a GBP 55 visa fee reduction enjoyed by nationals of all other EU member states.
MEPs Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ), Franc Bogovič (SLS/EPP), Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) and Milan Brglez (S&D/SD) share the view that the EU must insist on equal treatment. They believe that this is an attempt by the UK to undermine the EU's unity.
"The UK is playing a game with which it wants to create a rift between member states," Grošelj said at the MEPs' briefing in Brussels, adding that the UK uses different methods of pressure with different countries. In the case of France, the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, it is using fisheries, he said.
If unequal treatment persists, the MEPs will bring the issue up at the European Parliament, with Brglez saying that MEPs from the five member states could have the matter discussed in parliament.
"This is a touchstone for the unity of the EU, said Tomc, expressing the belief that the solution to this will depend on the EU. "If we give in, this approach will continue in all fields."
Slovenia's Foreign Ministry confirmed that Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Estonia had urged the European Commission to take action. Slovenia is also looking into the possibility of taking action within the European Council.
The UK's list of countries eligible to the fees discount is based on the list of signatories of the 1961 Council of Europe's Social Charter (CESC).
Slovenia ratified the revised 1996 document, which means that like many other countries it did not ratify the relevant Article 18.2 on visa fee discounts. However, Slovenia argues that the UK's exclusion of signatories of the revised version goes against the provisions of the document, the ministry told the STA.
"It is our position that a country is obligated to uphold documents and provisions it has passed, even in relation to countries that ratified a different version of the document and without respect to whether these other countries took on the relevant obligations.
"Moreover, a non-discrimination clause in the preamble to the 1961 document applies to all provisions of the document, including the provisions relevant to visa fees," the Foreign Ministry said.
Politico also points out in its report that several countries which had not signed the 1961 charter were still eligible for the visa fee discount, among them Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Malta and Portugal.
STA, 30 December 2020 - As the EU and UK have reached a trade and cooperation agreement to enable smooth transition to the full Brexit, British Ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler has assessed that, as the UK will always be a "close friend and partner to Slovenia", the deal enables the UK to continue to work with Slovenia as partners to tackle global challenges.
According to the ambassador, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement brings clarity and certainty to UK and EU citizens and businesses.
"It provides a platform upon which the UK and Slovenia can boost our relationship going forward, based on shared values, free trade and friendly cooperation," Sadler added in the statement for the STA.
For the UK businesses, the deal maintains zero tariffs and zero quotas on trade in goods, and this is perceived as important as the UK and Slovenia look to rebuild their economies post Covid-19.
Official statistics show that the UK is the 20th most important trade partner to Slovenia, with the value of bilateral trade exceeding EUR 1 billion for the second year in a row in 2019.
Data for 2020 show a decline in trade, though, and data for 2019 indicate that the number of exporters to and importers from the UK is dropping.
Last year, a total of 1,530 Slovenian companies exported to the UK, which is 22% fewer than in 2018. A total of 4,885 companies in Slovenia imported from the UK last year, 5% fewer than in 2018.
Sadler said that, following the UK's exit from the Single Market and Customs Union, the UK would "continue to work very closely with the Slovenian government to ensure that citizens and businesses here are fully aware of the changes and of what they need to do."
Slovenian citizens will be able to travel to the UK until 1 October 2021 with a valid identity card or passport, and from then on entry will be possible only with a valid passport.
Citizens with a regulated status within the EU scheme will be able to travel to the UK with a valid identity card at least until 31 December 2025.
According to the Slovenian Embassy in London, 3,880 Slovenian citizens asked either for settled or pre-settled status by 30 November, with 1,790 being granted settled status and 2,040 pre-settled status.
The embassy does not possess information about whether the number of Slovenian citizens in the UK dropped after the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. It has told the STA that Slovenian citizens had not difficulties in applying for the status.
As the British government said that top talent would be preferred in immigration, the embassy noted that the Slovenians who lived in the UK were mostly highly qualified workforce or students.
In this respect, the British ambassador said that "we will continue to welcome Slovenian students to come and study at our universities" and that short-term visitors would continue to travel visa-free and have access to healthcare protection in each other's countries.
Slovenians who will start their studies in the UK next year will be treated as all other international students, which means that they will need to apply for a student visa and pay higher tuition fees.
On the other hand, those Slovenians who are already studying in the UK will be able to retain the rights they have had as EU citizens if they apply for status until 30 June 2021 to enjoy lower tuition fees, simplified visa regime and healthcare protection.
When it comes to cooperation in judicial matters, the deal puts into force a system of extradition of wanted persons based on an arrest warrant that would enable fast and effective extradition of wanted persons.
According to Slovenia's official position to the agreement, Slovenia will propose on the basis of Article 47 of its constitution a declaration under which Slovenian citizens would not be extradited on the basis of the agreement.
As for future cooperation in other areas, Sadler said that the deal enabled the UK to continue to work with Slovenia as partners to tackle some of the global challenges faced by both nations.
"Climate change will be a key priority next year, with the UK presiding over COP 26 at the same time Slovenia holds the EU Presidency. That is the moment we want the world to come together for the long term health of our planet."
As for cooperation with Slovenia in defence, the ambassador said that "we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder in NATO", expressing the hope that the UK troops would train alongside Slovenian counterparts again.
Sadler added that "we have agreed a strong framework for future security cooperation" and that the deal provided for future cooperation between us on emerging security challenges, such as cyber crime.
The UK Government has written to 365,000 UK Nationals living in Europe with advice on the actions they need to take to prepare for the end of the UK transition period on 31 December. This includes 315 letters issued to UK Nationals in Slovenia.
UK Nationals resident before 31 December can continue living and working in Europe but may need to register or apply for residency.
UK State Pensioners will continue to receive their pensions as they do now.
The letters, sent to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients, give advice on how to register for residency and healthcare, exchange driving licences and check new passport validity rules online. It is one of the largest-ever mail outs by the UK Government to UK nationals living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Ambassador Sadler in Ljubljana
British Ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler said:
“In the crucial months ahead I look forward to continuing our Embassy’s efforts since 2017, to hear from Brits in Slovenia and help them get the information they need. We will keep communicating – including through our outreach events, Facebook pages, the Living in Slovenia Guide, and our newsletter – to help and support all British nationals living in Slovenia through the new processes.”
The UK Government has been running a public information campaign featuring online, radio and newspaper adverts across 30 countries informing UK Nationals of the actions they need to take. This is in addition to the hundreds of town hall meetings, street surgeries and online Q&As run by the UK’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates across Europe.
UK Nationals living in Slovenia can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take in the ‘Living in Guide’ at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-slovenia. They can also follow the British Embassy on Facebook, to get updates on any events or changes: https://www.facebook.com/ukinslovenia
Actions UK Nationals may need to take include:
STA, 22 September 2020 - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan stressed the importance of member states remaining united in conducting Brexit negotiations with the UK as he attended a meeting of EU affairs ministers in Brussels on Tuesday. He warned that the internal market bill was a grave violation of the UK's requirements stemming from the Brexit agreement.
Dovžan moreover said that all the ministers agreed a deal between member states and the European Parliament on the EU's future budget and the recovery fund was necessary as soon as possible.
Discussing the coordination of anti-corona restrictions among EU countries, the state secretary pointed out that it was up to individual member states to impose precaution measures.
He moreover urged the measures to protect public health but also ensure that the internal market and the four freedoms were as unrestricted as possible. A few more rounds of negotiations are needed to reach an agreement on joint guidelines, he added.
Today I have signed the Withdrawal Agreement for the UK to leave the EU on January 31st, honouring the democratic mandate of the British people.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 24, 2020
This signature heralds a new chapter in our nation’s history. pic.twitter.com/IaGTeeL2is
STA, 12 February 2020 - Slovenian companies wondering about the future relationship with their UK partners after Brexit were assured at an event held by the British Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy on Wednesday that Britons wanted to preserve the close business ties.
The UK exited the EU at the beginning of the month after 47 years of membership. The terms of trade will remain unchanged until the transition period expires at the end of the year, while talks on new relations are to start soon, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey told the event.
"We would like for us to continue to grow together," she said, noting the countries' close cooperation in many fields, from construction to banking and advanced technologies, with the volume of business between the two countries increasing by more than 10% over the past three years.
Honey believes that an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU is feasible by the end of the transition period. The UK is keen to reach a free trade agreement similar to the one between the EU and Canada.
My key message: the UK will be working hard to agree an #FTA.— Sophie Honey (@HMASophieHoney) February 12, 2020
As we leave Single Market & Customs Union at the end of 2020, new processes will be put in place for ?? import/export - make sure to stay in touch with your ?? partners to prepare.
More info: https://t.co/Va9oYvgkTC pic.twitter.com/Qw6aor5pIv
Tim Abraham, deputy director at the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said that now was the opportunity to prepare for the changed terms and conditions setting in as the UK exits the single market and customs union at the end of 2020.
Abraham, who would like for the close business ties to be preserved, noted that many of the businesses present at the event today already do business with countries outside the EU, saying that doing business with the UK on new terms would not be much different than that.
Zoran Stančič, the head of the European Commission's office in Slovenia, assured business representatives present that procedures would be run transparently and that businesses would get all the necessary information.
"However, the path ahead won't be easy, eleven months is little time," he said, adding that the European Commission had high ambitions for the future relationship with the UK. He said that the transition period could be extended by a year or two if the talks did not develop the way both sides wanted.
Tjaša Redek, a professor from the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics, presented an analysis which showed that Brexit would have only limited impact on Slovenia, with the negative impact on GDP growth projected at up to 0.03% in a decade.
Data for 2018 show that Slovenian companies exported EUR 577 million in goods and services to the UK, importing EUR 441 million.
The analysis also showed that Slovenian companies do not expect substantial negative consequences of Brexit, but they are preparing for the changes nonetheless and many are eyeing new markets.
All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia are here
Časoris is an online newspaper aimed at children. Each week we’ll take an article and post it here as a Slovene-English dual text.
Z Big Benom slovo od Evropske unije
With Big Ben, farewell to the European Union
Written by Romana Dobnikar Šeruga , translated by JL Flanner & G Translate
Januarja ob enajstih zvečer po britanskem času (oziroma opolnoči po srednjeevropskem času) je Združeno kraljestvo Velike Britanije in Severne Irske po 47 letih članstva izstopilo iz Evropske unije.
On January 31, at eleven o'clock in the evening British time (or midnight Continental Europe time), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the European Union after 47 years of membership.
Na pročelje hiše na Downing Streetu 10, kjer je sedež britanskega premiera, so najprej projicirali posnetek slovitega Big Bena, kako odšteva minute do brexita, nato pa besedilo himne God Save the Queen (Bog obvaruj kraljico).
On the front of the building at #10 Downing Street, where the UK Prime Minister lives, they first projected a clip of the famous Big Ben counting down the minutes to Brexit, and then the lyrics of the national anthem, God Save the Queen.
Ta zgodovinski trenutek so eni Britanci proslavljali, drugi obžalovali.
This historic moment was celebrated by some Britons, by others regretted.
»Za mnoge je to osupljivi trenutek upanja, trenutek, za katerega so si mislili, da ga ne bodo dočakali. In seveda mnogi so zaskrbljeni in čutijo izgubo,« je te mešane občutke strnil premier Boris Johnson.
“For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come. And there are many of course who feel a sense anxiety and loss, ” as these mixed feeling were summed up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Na referendumu pred tremi leti in pol so se namreč državljani le s tesno večino odločili za brexit oziroma za izstop svoje države iz Evropske unije. In ta trenutek je nazadnje le napočil.
In the referendum of three and a half years ago, only a narrow majority voted for Brexit, or for their country to withdraw from the European Union. And that moment has only just begun.
In kaj se je spremenilo s prvim februarjem?
And what has changed since the first of February?
Za zdaj nič. Slovenci na primer še vedno lahko potujemo v Veliko Britanijo samo z osebno izkaznico, pa tudi uporaba mobilnika nas bo tam stala enako kot doma.
Nothing for now. For example, Slovenians can still travel to the UK with only their ID card, and using a mobile phone will cost us the same as at home.
Tudi Britanci še nekaj časa ne bodo čutili posledic dejstva, da v Bruslju, na sedežu Evropske unije, v evropskem parlamentu in drugih ustanovah Evropske unije ne bodo imeli več svojih predstavnikov.
Even the British will for some time not feel the consequences of the fact that in Brussels, the seat of the European Union, the European Parliament and other institutions of the European Union, they will no longer have their representatives.
Toda do konca leta 2020 se bosta morala London in Bruselj dogovoriti, v kakšnih odnosih bo Velika Britanija s članicami Evropske unije, ki jih je zdaj samo še 27.
But by the end of 2020, London and Brussels will have to agree on what kind of relations the UK will have with the European Union, which now has only 27 [members].
Slovenia is one of the three EU countries that is forbidden by their own constitutions to extradite their own citizens to non-EU countries, which the UK became last Friday, at 23:00 UK time, midnight on the Continent.
Although the European Arrest Warrant continues to apply during the Brexit Implementation Period that lasts until 31 December 2020, the three countries have notified the European Commission that complying with the treaty would be unconstitutional for them. This however only applies to each country's own citizens. UK citizens, or other EU nationals, could still be extradited under the European Arrest Warrant during the transition period.
This means that if a Slovenian national committed a crime in the UK before fleeing back to Slovenia, they would escape criminal prosecution in the UK. Slovenian law, however, allows for Slovenian citizens who have committed a crime abroad to be prosecuted in Slovenia.
STA, 29 January 2020 - There are some 800 UK citizens living in Slovenia and their main concern about Brexit is whether they will be able to continue their lives as before, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey told the STA, stressing that their rights were protected under the December EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.
The agreement protects the rights and status of British citizens in Slovenia but also Slovenians in the UK, the ambassador told the STA in an interview.
The ambassador explained that the embassy has been in regular contact with the British community in Slovenia, updating them on the latest developments, and explaining them what the Withdrawal Agreement means for them. It has also been working very closely with the Slovenian government.
"The Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of all those who are legally resident in Slovenia by the end of December to continue to live and work in Slovenia as they do now. So it protects their residency status, but also their rights to access healthcare and social security, to access their pensions as previously."
To be eligible, UK nationals have to be legally resident in Slovenia, whether as temporary or permanent residents, by the end of 2020.
As for travelling, holiday, and business visits, the ambassador said everything would remain the same after the implementation period, in 2021. "It is already agreed that there will be visa free travel for short visits."
Arrangements for British people coming to live permanently in Slovenia after 2020 and vice-versa, are yet to be decided. But the ambassador believes "the UK will always want to welcome talented individuals, so there will still be significant flow of people. For instance this week the UK launched a new visa scheme specifically for people in science and research."
During the transition period, the UK and EU will negotiate the new relationship, including new arrangements that will apply in areas like trade.
"The transition period means that there would be limited impact for businesses and people who are travelling during 2020. That means that current EU rules apply. That gives us the opportunity to agree the new partnership between the UK and the EU that will start on 1 January next year.
"There we are looking for a really positive and constructive partnership given our shared interest, our shared history, and values. So we are looking for a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, but our prime minister has also spoken of the need to work as partners in other areas, for instance to tackle climate change, and to build cooperation in education and science," Honey said.
David Limon, a retired professor from the Faculty of Arts, applied for Slovenian citizenship in March 2019 but it looks like his application may be rejected due to what he thinks is a technicality, relating to his income as a self-employed translator since leaving the faculty.
He has been living in Slovenia since 1998 but his connections with Slovenia go back to 1983 when he married a Slovenian. Both his wife and their daughter, who was born in the UK but educated in Slovenia, have dual citizenship.
"It is clear that the Interior Ministry applies very strict (even unfair) criteria for citizenship applications. I am very disappointed about this after contributing for over 20 years to Slovenian society (as an academic and a translator), learning the language and even climbing Triglav."
He expects travel within the EU to get more complicated for British passport holders after Brexit. "It is also possible that if the British government makes life more difficult for EU citizens, reducing their legal rights, then EU countries will understandably reciprocate," he told the STA.
Chris Wherry, English programme moderator at Radio Slovenia International, is a permanent resident and this will not change regardless of the relationship between the UK and the EU.
He came to Slovenia in 2002 and is married to a Slovenian. Both of their two children, 15 and 11, are registered British citizens so they will be able to choose where they wish to live after their education.
Asked about any concerns regarding Brexit, he said there were many. "I believe the UK has much to lose by operating alone. I further treasure the EU free movement of people as a way of allowing individuals to access the best education and personal opportunities.
"Cooperation between countries is vital to resolve many international issues and trading as a more powerful block makes real sense. Both the EU and the UK will be weaker unless they come to significant agreements over the next 11 months regarding these issues."
Paul Steed, editor and writer for Total Slovenia News, has been in Slovenia for five and a half years, moving here from Taiwan. He has permanent resident status, is married to a Slovenian, has a child and owns property here, so he plans to stay after Brexit. He would like to get dual nationality, to "further confirm my status in Slovenia, but this is complicated because of Brexit".
"My concerns regarding Brexit are wide and varied. But on a personal level I'm worried about dual nationality, and pensions and healthcare in the future," he told the STA.
With regard to Slovenia, he noted that the direct trade links with the UK were very small, and would get smaller in the future. "The increased barriers to trade, if only in terms of rules of origin paperwork in a tariff- and quota-free deal, will make things more difficult, especially for smaller firms."
On the positive side, Slovenia has strong automotive and pharmaceutical industries, two areas that will be hurt in the UK if London does not opt for close regulatory alignment with the EU, so the country could maybe benefit there, he said.
There are many partnerships between British and Slovene businesses, including in high-tech, the pharmaceutical industry and the automotive sector, and around 4500 Slovenian companies importing goods and services from the UK. According to Ambassador Honey, she is not aware of any British company thinking about leaving Slovenia because of Brexit.
"We have a really strong and growing bilateral partnership with Slovenia", the ambassador told the STA, highlighting growing trade and education ties, and the first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day in 2019. "So I want to see all of those trends continue, as we continue to build a new and positive relationship between the UK and EU as a whole."