BRUSSELS 19-20 June 2008 Slovenia hosts final summit of its European Union presidency

In December Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel predicted that the “complicated processes” attached to the Kosovo dispute with Serbia and Russia “will be concluded by the end of our presidency.” If he is right, the European Union leaders at this last summit of Slovenia’s EU presidency will be free to move on to other priorities, the chief of which is ratification into force of the Lisbon Treaty that EU leaders signed in December.

The Lisbon Treaty replaces the European Constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. After these rejections, EU governments decided to use the parliamentary route rather than risky popular votes to ratify the replacement accord. Most member states will attempt to push it through by the end of Jun 2008. The effort is expected to meet barriers in Britain, France, the Netherlands and Ireland, so Slovenia’s hope of having it wrapped up before it hands the EU presidency to France is in doubt. Slovenia pledged to ratify the treaty in Jan 2008 as an example-setting move.

The new accord sets the foundation for wide-reaching internal reforms in the bloc, and ratification by member states will bring it into effect in Jan 2009. The accord creates a permanent EU president, a “foreign minister” – known as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs – scraps 55 national vetoes and gives new legal authority for the bloc to sign international treaties.

Slovenia’s other priorities as EU president include arguing Turkey’s case for EU membership against stiff resistance from France and several other member countries, moving forward on EU energy and climate change policy and accelerating the EU pre-accession process for the Western Balkans.

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