Books on Slovenia
Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)
The EU ahoy
Slovenia has arrived. It is to have the presidency of the EU in 2008. PM Janez
Jansa believes that, if one compares it with other states which were to take on
EU presidency for the first time, the pace of Slovenia's preparations for the
task is adequate, he told a traditional meeting of Slovenian diplomats recently.
He stressed that alongside the implementation of economic and social reforms,
the preparations for the EU presidency are the government's top priority, as he
addressed the meeting, focusing on EU presidency preparations. Jansa added that
Slovenia is already working together with Portugal and Germany as the two
countries preceding it at the helm of the EU, as well as with other EU members
which could help with the experience.
What is to be the theme of its presidency?
The Athens-Ljubljana axis
Slovenia and Greece are at the other ends of the Balkans. But they have
something very important in common - they are the two established members of the
True - Bulgaria and Romania have just joined. But they are neophytes, deeply
under suspicion, in probation almost. The Slovenes and Greeks are at a
comparable stage of development, with curiously enough about the same per capita
They share something more important in common - they are the natural gateways to
the Balkan region.
To join hands in integrating the Western Balkans into Europe, that is the noble
goal of the new axis between them.
The triumphal tour
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is mustard keen on this idea. He went on
a tour of the region in mid-January.
On January 15th he stressed that Slovenia serves as an example for all the
countries aspiring to join the Union and wishing to "share with us the
benefits of European integration." Addressing an event in Ljubljana
celebrating Slovenia's entrance into the euro-zone, Karamanlis, noted that
Slovenia's case is an "example that clearly demonstrates that our Union is
open to all those that adopt its rules and fulfil all the conditions and
criteria (for membership)."
Karamanlis arrived in the Slovenian capital on January 14th -- following his
official visit to neighbouring Croatia -- to attend celebratory events
commemorating the country's highly prized entrance into the euro-zone, as the
one-time former Yugoslav republic on Jan. 1, 2007 became the 13th member-state
to introduce the single European currency.
Karamanlis joined European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose country currently holds the EU presidency --
and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, among others, at a
reception hosted by Slovenian Premier Janez Jansa. Slovenia's euro-zone
membership also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the country's
"This development (Slovenia's euro-zone entry) sends a message that
continuing European integration is more attractive than ever. It is a very
significant message in the current junction vis-a-vis the blueprint for the
European edifice, whereas it is also a positive message of confidence in the
European economy and currency," he said in his address.
The Greek PM also stressed that Slovenia serves as an example for all the
countries aspiring to join the Union and wishing to "share with us the
benefits of European integration".
Karamanlis, in fact, indirectly touched on neighbouring Turkey's increasingly
complicated EU course, as he noted that Slovenia's case is an "example that
clearly demonstrates that our Union is open to all those that adopt its rules
and fulfil all the conditions and criteria (for membership)."
Finally, Karamanlis congratulated the Slovenian people and leadership over the
country's historic membership in the euro-zone, reminding that Athens vigorously
backed the country's accession as the 13th euro-zone member. The country of two
million introduced the euro on Jan. 1, becoming the first of the 10 countries to
join the bloc two years ago that satisfied economic criteria needed to join the
Strategic Council Recommends Flat Tax Rate of 20%
The big thing has happened. A body advising the government on economic
matters has made an official recommendation that Slovenia adopt a flat tax rate
Meeting in Ljubljana, the Strategic Council for Economic Development concluded
that Slovenia can afford the flat tax rate in terms of welfare and budget
According to Joze P. Damijan, a member of the Council, the body decided to
recommend a flat tax rate after it reviewed results of a preliminary feasibility
study. He said a 20% rate is the most optimal.
The Council believes the flat tax rate should be introduced after Slovenia
adopts the euro, at the beginning of 2007, in order to avoid major economic
shocks that could derail the adoption process, Damijan said.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa attended the meeting of the Council. According to
Damijan, Jansa supports in principle the idea of a flat tax rate.
"The government will have to decide whether to accept our proposal or not.
It should be aware that the tax reform would require that other reforms be
undertaken: social security payments, health care, etc," said Damijan.
The study shows that the state stands to lose around SIT 200bn (834m Euro) in
income tax and payroll tax as a consequences of the lower tax rate, Damijan
said. However, some of this can be made up with greater tax revenues from VAT,
while the state will also save on taxes it has to pay for public sector
According to head of the Council Mico Mrkaic, the flat tax rate would prove
conducive for economic growth. "I hope that this proposal will secure wide
public backing," he said.
Moreover, Damijan said that the Council would recommend to the group studying
the feasibility of a flat tax rate to continue its work so that a final report
on the matter could be presented in two to three months.
Slovenia electricity generation down
Slovenia's electricity generation in hydropower plants and in the nuclear power
plant decreased, but in thermo power plants it slightly increased in September
2006, website reporter.gr reported.
Compared to August, total net production of electricity decreased by four per
cent in September, while consumption increased by five per cent, it was
reported. Production in hydro power plants decreased by 19 per cent and by two
per cent in the nuclear power plant, while increasing eight per cent in thermal
power plants. In line with production, fuel consumption in thermal power plants
also increased by nine percent, specifically in the consumption of coal (nine
per cent) and natural gas (18 per cent). In November 2006, the total gross
production of electricity was 1286 gigawatt-hours (GWh) or three per cent less
than in October. In November, 607 GWh of electricity was imported and 566 GWh
was exported. In September, supply of energy commodities in general increased,
with the exception of a 10 per cent fall in the gas diesel oil supply. The most
obvious were increases in the supply of coke and heavy fuel oil. Other supply
rises were with other petroleum products by 32 per cent, LPG by 26 per cent,
lignite and brown coal by 10 per cent and natural gas by five percent, it was
reported. Supplies of all other energy commodities increased less than five per
MINERALS & METALS
Only two bidders left in bidding for SIJ steel group
Only two out of the three original bidders have remained in the bidding game to
acquire a 55.35 per cent stake in steel group Slovenska industrija jekla (SIJ),
the SIJ privatisation commission was cited as saying by website reporter.gr on
According to the commission, which did not disclose the bidders' names, the
rejected bidder failed to amend its bid, even after an additional request by the
commission. The commission is expected to send its proposal on the selected
bidder to the government by the end of January, it was reported. According to
unofficial information, the initial bids were submitted by two German and one
Russian company. According to the sales plan, the state would keep a 25 per cent
plus a golden share in the group for an unspecified period of time. The group
posted 15.5 million Euro in net profits in the first nine months of 2006, down a
third over the same period last year.
Slovenian tourism to focus on quality
There is increasing demand for products that offer something more; and such
products typically have higher value added, Slovenian Business Week reported on
December 11th, citing the head of the Slovenian Economy Ministry's Directorate
for Tourism, Marjan Hribar. Hribar noted in his address at the Slovenian Tourism
Forum that a five-year strategic assessment period will run out this year.
Objectives in terms of quantity have been fulfilled, but the quality indicators
are lagging behind targets, it was reported. According to Hribar, the goals of
raising tourism revenues to 1.6 billion Euro, increasing the number of beds in
four- and five-star hotels and finishing a 1.6 billion Euro investment cycle by
2010, will be met. However, efforts to increase the number of overnight stays,
improve occupancy rates and increase the number of high-end rooms in small
hotels and private facilities are off-target, Hribar said. Looking at the
2007-2013 EU budget period, Hribar said the main objectives would be to invest
in tourism infrastructure and upgrade organisational structures with a view to
improving quality. Dimitrij Piciga, head of the Slovenian Tourism Board, which
organised the event, said the organisation would have to become an active player
in tourism projects. He added that Slovenian tourism must enter existing markets
with new products and make efforts to give new products a clear image that will
set them apart from the competition.