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President Pahor endorses the main messages of the President of the European Commission von der Leyen in Rome

Rome, 15. 9. 2021 | press release

At the invitation of the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor met with the presidents of Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal in Rome.

President Pahor endorses the main messages of the President of the European Commission von der Leyen in Rome
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The heads of EU Member States have been meeting in this format once a year since 2003, when they met in Arraiolos in Portugal for the first time on the initiative of the then President of Portugal, the recently deceased Jorge Sampaio.

The main focus of this year's meeting is the Conference on the Future of Europe, which enables all European citizens to actively participate in this debate. At the meeting, the presidents placed a special emphasis on a vision for the future of the post-pandemic European Union and discussed ways of tackling the social and economic impact of COVID-19.

In the first discussion entitled "EU on the path to strategic autonomy: responsibilities and opportunities", the presidents exchanged views on the possibility and importance of the strategic autonomy of the European Union and discussed ways of securing a more influential role for the European Union on the global stage.

President Pahor endorses the main messages of the President of the European Commission von der Leyen in Rome
Photo: Quirinale

In his address in the first part of the meeting, the Slovenian president endorsed the main messages of today's State of the Union address by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and said that they are a good compromise between different views and a good roadmap for the steps that need to be taken today. President Pahor then presented his views on the current global situation and highlighted that, given the complexity of the global security environment, the European Union should focus more on the key areas, such as health, security and defence. He highlighted three immediate challenges that, in his view, directly concern the EU and to which the EU's response is crucial: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the current situation in Afghanistan.

He further said that no one was prepared for the pandemic, meaning that not even the European Union could have been prepared, and thus its initial response was slow; however, through recovery and resilience programmes, the European Union proved itself and prepared substantial funding in a very short space of time. He also expressed hope that the funding will mainly be used for investments in science, the environment and for providing sustainable solutions, all of which are Europe's greatest comparative advantages.

According to President Pahor, climate change is not an issue of the future but of the present – if we do not act today, we may no longer have the chance to do so tomorrow.

He further commented on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that it put the North Atlantic Alliance and the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy to the test. He stressed the importance of cooperation and solidarity – we went to Afghanistan as allies, so we must also share the burden of withdrawal, including the issue of migration. President Pahor also welcomed the conclusions of the recent meeting of EU's home affairs ministers as the EU's first step in this area, while stressing that further work is still necessary. He also expressed the expectation that the EU find a common solution regarding humanitarian corridors.

President Pahor concluded his address by saying that numerous challenges represent a threat to our security; however, we have a common answer to all three – strengthening the EU's resilience and strategic autonomy.

The second discussion was entitled "The EU's contribution to multilateralism in the post pandemic world".

President Pahor endorses the main messages of the President of the European Commission von der Leyen in Rome
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

According to President Pahor, the challenges we are facing are global. Solutions can therefore only come in the form of dialogue or cooperation, not in building fences and closing doors. He is convinced that the European Union was built on and is committed to multilateralism – which is only right, as no one can face global challenges alone. President Pahor concluded by saying that strategic autonomy could help EU be more confident and effective on the world stage. He highlighted the promotion of human rights as an important aspect of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The meeting will close with a gala dinner hosted by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella in the Quirinal Palace.

President Pahor endorses the main messages of the President of the European Commission von der Leyen in Rome
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA