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24th Oct 2021

Slovenia shamed on corruption by European watchdog

  • “It remains a mystery to me how Janša is obstructing justice and getting away with it,” one MEP said (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)
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Slovenia, the current EU presidency, implemented none of the 15 anti-corruption recommendations it received in recent years from a pan-European watchdog.

That was the conclusion of the Group of States against Corruption (Greco), a branch of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental body in Strasbourg, in a report which came out on Tuesday (5 October), but attracted little attention.

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Greco noted that Slovenia's anti-corruption manpower had been reduced from 40 to 37 since the previous report in 2018.

Rules on lobbying by former government staff and politicians have not been strengthened.

The scope of asset declarations for ministers and state secretaries have not been widened to include family members.

And no plan to manage conflicts of interest has been proposed, amid other shortfalls.

"No tangible results have been achieved" to protect law enforcement from corruption, unfair promotions or dismissals of police and top officials, Greco said.

And "considerable progress is needed" to strengthen protection of whistle-blowers blowers, it added.

Slovenia was invited to update Greco on its progress by 30 April 2022.

Greco told EUobserver countries members a legal obligation to implement its recommendations.

Growing pressure

The report was published amid recent accusations of dirty tricks by Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša and his government.

On Tuesday, the Slovenian Administrative Court ruled against Janša's decision to annul the appointment of two Slovenian representatives to the EU's top court in Luxembourg.

Janša personally delayed and finally blocked the appointment of two Slovenian prosecutors - Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir - in May.

This prompted the resignation of justice minister Lilijana Kozlovič, who had selected the candidates.

The picture of the EU flagship country painted by Greco and the anti-Janša accusations is not a pretty one.

And the Slovenian leader is also dragging his heels on appointment of two representatives to the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), a new organ for clawing back mis-spent EU funds, as previously reported by EUobserver.

Slovenia is the only member state that has not yet named prosecutors.

This creates a legal blind spot in Europe, resulting in an inability to prosecute cases connected to Slovenia, EPPO chief Laura Kövesi recently said.

Cabinet representatives of EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders told EUobserver he has expressed his concern in person and demanded explanations on multiple occasions since Slovenia took up the EU presidency in July.

Janša previously acted as the country's leader from 2004 and until 2008. And then again in 2012 and 2013.

He was ousted in a vote of no-confidence and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges.

But the country's High Court ruling expired when the Constitutional Court ordered a retrial for procedural reasons.

"It remains a mystery to me how Janša is obstructing justice and getting away with it," German Green MEP Daniel Freund said on Slovenia's EPPO foot-dragging.

EU chief prosecutor accuses Slovenia of interference

Europe's chief prosecutor Laura Kövesi warned that the EU budget might not be safe because Slovenia continues to delay naming delegated prosecutors to the agency. "We have to work as if our office does not exist in Slovenia," she said.

Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office

Slovenian foot-dragging on the appointment of prosecutors to a new EU anti-graft office may trigger a decision by the European Commission to take it to court. Slovenia's prime minister Janez Janša said they would be appointed by autumn.

Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte suggested Poland's Covid-19 recovery money should not be approved until Warsaw respects the rulings of the European Court of Justice and dispels doubts about the independence of its judiciary.

Polish rule-of-law debate boils over to EU summit

The summit discussion comes after the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said this week the bloc's executive will take action against Warsaw, for challenging the supremacy of EU law.

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