Richard North, 06/01/2005  

The Slovene government has today prepared a Bill to ratify the EU constitution and submitted it to parliament.

In an interview on Slovene radio foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel then admitted that the constitution was not 100 percent perfect. "It was not written only by Slovenia," he said. Should it have been written just by Slovenia?

Anyhow, Rupel conceded the constitution was "not as we had imagined", but it was nevertheless "a constitution that enables the EU to function in the international environment much more firmly and more efficiently than until now." There we have that word "efficient" again. They all must be working to a prepared script.

Even more bizarrely, Rupel thinks it is "good that the inter-governmental concept prevailed over the community one." And he actually believes that Slovenia's "consensus" is also necessary for the EU Council to pass a decision. Hasn't he heard of QMV?

His one reservation, it seems, is that the EU commission "can be a dangerous thing" since each country will be able to nominate a commissioner only until 2014.

One can only stand back in amazement and wonder where they get these people from. But, with that lamentable level of ignorance of the project to which he is conjoined, it is small wonder that Rupel expects the parliament will ratify the constitution without any major problems a session in January.

However, it may not entirely be a coincidence that, in the first year of its EU membership, Slovenia was a net recipient of EU funds. Its contribution to the EU budget last year totalled €170m, while receipts amounted to €183m, giving a surplus of €13m

That relatively modest sum was actually expected to be €147m but there have been delays in setting up structural and other fund payments. But then Slovenia will be able to transfer certain unused funds from the EU budget to 2005 and 2006. That means they have coming €128m from the 2004 account, another €143m this year and €186m in 2006.

At €457 million, this is not that far short of the €500 million pledged by the commission to the whole of the Asian disaster fund, and Slovenia hasn't even had a tsunami. No wonder Rupel does not expect any problems getting the constitution ratified.

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