Last week Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar hosted a summit of Slovenia and the Benelux countries, which took place in the context of regular in-depth cooperation among the four countries.
Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders devoted most attention in the talks to the questions of the future of the European Union, the EU future of the Western Balkans and the importance of a circular economy for sustainable development.
"This meeting meeting is a confirmation of the excellent cooperation between four countries from the most integrated part of Europe, which are linked by shared values and a common view of the future of our continent. The strategic interest of all four countries is a strong, better integrated and successful European Union working for the good of all our citizens," said Cerar after the meeting. In his opinion, in-depth cooperation facilitates an ongoing exchange of opinions and views on current questions regarding the European Union, our common future in Europe and other political matters.
In their discussion of European topics, the leaders focused above all on current issues such as the multiannual financial framework, the internal market, the migration crisis, asylum policy, institutional questions and the future of European and monetary union. They agreed that all four countries are committed to a strong and efficient single market, the strengthening of European monetary union and the completion of the process of building a banking union. They placed particular emphasis on the importance of open discussion and exchanges of views on these matters. They reiterated their commitment to modernisation and digitalisation at the member state level and the EU level and underlined the importance of the development of a circular economy. A circular economy is one of the factors that contributes to the achievement of sustainable development objectives, which is also why the leaders have decided to give their joint support to the proposal to discuss the circular economy at the European Council this year, as a part of the single market that can contribute to the successful development of the EU.
Another important topic of the meeting was the migration crisis. "Here we maintain our position that Europe must be as active as possible even outside its borders and that the EU must do as much as possible to provide assistance in the countries where the crisis originates. We are of course committed to further strengthening control of the EU's external borders and to the principle of solidarity, which must apply to the treatment of refugees who arrive in our countries," said Cerar, adding that in this context the four leaders also discussed a special Slovenian compromise proposal that could harmonise the positions of EU members on refugee quotas. The four leaders agreed that the Slovenian compromise proposal is a good basis for further discussion at the European Council level.
Regarding the European future of the Western Balkans, the four leaders agreed that the door to the EU will remain open to these countries once they have met all the necessary conditions. They agreed that until then it is important to work closely with the countries of the Western Balkans in the economic, political and other fields, and in this way show them that they are part of the wider European family. They placed particular emphasis on the importance of the democratic values on which the EU and European unity are based. The key values in their opinion are solidarity and the rule of law.
Following the meeting, the three Prime Ministers and the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister adopted a special declaration, which included an agreement on further intensification of cooperation between Slovenia and the Benelux countries. "This is an extremely useful exchange of experiences between the oldest members of the EU – its founding members, in fact – and Slovenia, which joined this family later but nevertheless wishes to be part of this most closely integrated core of the EU," underlined the Slovenian Prime Minister. The leaders have agreed to continue with meetings of this kind and in the future intend to devote more attention to strengthening economic cooperation.
Reported by Government of Slovenia