Social Policy : Slovenian Presidency Low in Social Priorities

Article excerpt

Upon reading the agenda of the Slovenian EU Presidency for the first half of 2008, one can clearly see that social policy is not at all a priority for this rather affluent republic of two million inhabitants, nestled between Austria and Northern Italy.

The usual sweeping statements are present - "developing the national modalities of flexicurity, by giving a decisive role to the social partners," "drawing an assessment of social reality" (combating poverty, childhood and youth policy, active insertion and accessible social services of quality), " demographical challenges" and "equal opportunities"a- but the document still appears to be more of a catalogue of good intentions than a Presidency strategy. There is a real feeling that the Christian Democratic government of Janez Jansa does not have a penchant for this subject. Even if the tone of the document is intended to be rather positive, some expressions sound incorrect such as the objective of having "moderate and suitable" systems of social protection, signifying a degree of clumsiness on a sensitive topic.

It is the Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, Marjeta Cotman, who will lead the work of the Presidency. Born in 1956 in Stuj (Styria) and a lawyer by training, she has occupied various positions in the Slovenian administration (Ministry of Justice, National Assembly Petitions Committee).

THE AGENDA

The (provisional) agenda of the two Employment and Social Policy Councils, scheduled for the first half of 2008, appear to confirm this initial observation.

On 29 February, in addition to the usual preparations for the spring European Councila- which is mainly limited to approving a series of reports issued by the administrative mechanism (joint reports on employment, social exclusion, recommendations, employment guidelines, etc)a- the Slovenian Presidency has envisaged a political agreement on the postponement of the application of the directive on electromagnetic fields (proposed by the European Commission at the end of October). …