Slovenian PM vows to focus on EU 'substance' not style
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa vowed to focus on "substance" rather than style at the helm of the European Union
STRASBOURG, Jan 16, 2008 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa vowed
Wednesday to focus on "substance" rather than style at the helm of the
European Union, with his country's EU presidency overshadowed by that of
Jansa, whose nation became on January 1 the first of the 10 states that
joined the EU in 2004 to hold the bloc's rotating presidency, underlined that
his government had prepared intensely for the task for three years.
"Perhaps our presidency will not be as grandiose as the French, will not
have as much coverage as the German. Perhaps our administration does not have
such an excellent tradition as the British," he told the European Parliament.
"Perhaps we will make a mistake or two, perhaps we'll say something too
directly, perhaps too naively," he said. "But we certainly promise we will
work in a responsible fashion, that we will focus on substance."
"We will not compete for the limelight. That is not important to us because
we know very well where we started off 20 years go, when many underestimated
France takes its next turn at Europe's helm for six months from July 1, but
the shadow of its presidency under the leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy
is already being felt at the EU's institutions.
The leader of the assembly's liberal group, Graham Watson, said that the
European Union had proved that not all roads lead to Rome.
"Neither do they lead to Paris, and this is not the start of the French
presidency," he said. "We know that Europe's Davids often make better
presidencies than the Goliaths."
On Tuesday, the head of the Socialist bloc, Martin Schulz, complained that
media attention was focused on France, and particularly Sarkozy's private
life, rather than on Europe's priorities.
"Three crucial themes are on the table during the Slovenian presidency of
the European Union over the next six months: climate change, the future of
Kosovo and the ratification of the Lisbon treaty" of EU reforms, he said.
"But instead of concentrating on these important political challenges, the
EU is focusing on Mr Sarkozy's private life," he said. "It's ridiculous".
In any case, rotating EU presidencies are soon to be a thing of the past.
The Lisbon Treaty, which EU nations have pledged to ratify before European
Parliament elections in 2009, does away with the cumbersome and costly system
and will eventually put in place a single figure for two and a half years.