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EC pledges support to Slovenian presidency priorities

European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstroem said on Tuesday the commission “fully supports Slovenia’s presidency priorities” during its term at the helm of the 27-nation bloc in the H1 of the year.

Wallstroem made her statement at Brdo pri Kranju in suburban Ljubljana, where a meeting was being held between the European Commission and the rotating EU presidency Slovenian government. Wallstroem, who led the visiting delegation in the absence of commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who is ill with the flu, said the goal for 2008 was to have a “Europe of results.” In a joint press conference with Wallstroem, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said the “substantive talks” examined the key issues facing the Slovenian presidency, including the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the energy-climate talks, implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, the Western Balkans and intercultural dialogue. “Today excellent cooperation has been established between the Slovenian government and the European Commission,” Jansa said after the first session of meetings. According to Jansa, Slovenia’s presidency will tailor its activities in order to provide for the smooth ratification of the recently-signed EU reform treaty, a key goal of the presidency. He said the goal was to have the document in force by Jan. 1, 2009.

The future of the Western Balkans was high on the agenda of Tuesday’s talks. Jansa said EU unity on the region was a key in ensuring that the region has a European future, while Wallstroem said the commission welcomed Slovenia’s commitment to helping the region. Both Wallstroem and Jansa stressed that the energy-climate package, including talks on sharing of the burden on implementing the EU’s goals in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and raising the share of renewable energy, would be a tough nut for the Slovenian presidency, as well as the ensuing French presidency.

Slovenia has put intercultural dialogue among its priorities, as its presidency coincides with the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. According to Jansa, promoting intercultural dialogue represents value added for the EU. He said this was also a way for the EU to promote its values in an equal dialogue with the rest of the world. The traditional meeting of the European Commission with the new EU presidency is the first major event hosted by Slovenia after it took the helm of the EU on Jan. 1. The session at Brdo pri Kranju began with a meeting of the commissioners with members of the Slovenian cabinet on individual topics. A plenary session between the government and the commission was held in the afternoon. (Xinhua)