17th Feb 2019

EU enlargement process hangs on Slovenian vote

  • Piran in Slovenia - the dispute over the waterway has lasted almost 20 years (Photo: ucouldguess)

The EU's plan to welcome Croatia as its 28th member in 2012 could be dealt a blow by Slovenian voters on Sunday (6 June) in a referendum on maritime boundaries.

The referendum boils down to the question: Are you in favour of a law ratifying an arbitration agreement between Slovenia and Croatia on how to divide sea access to the strategic Bay of Piran in the Adriatic sea?

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A Yes vote will see Slovenia and Croatia begin the international arbitration process in line with an EU recommendation.

A No vote will plunge the dispute resolution process back into uncertainty and cast doubt on Croatia's ability to wrap up its accession process in time - the two sides have wrangled over the bay for 18 years, with Slovenia in recent years wielding its veto to block Croatia entry talks.

A No vote will most likely bring down the coalition government of centre-left Prime Minister Borut Pahor as well, and damage the country's credentials as a responsible EU player.

The union is at a time of economic turmoil keen to rebuild international confidence in its ability to govern itself. A high-level conference in Sarajevo on Wednesday was specifically aimed at building Western Balkan confidence in the enlargement process.

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor in a TV interview on Friday put the finishing touches on his hectic Yes campaign, with a simple majority of Slovenia's 1.7 million voters required to secure the result.

"We are counting on a positive result and we are quietly confident," a spokesman for Mr Pahor told EUobserver. "The consequences [of a No for Croatia's EU accession progress] are difficult to predict."

But pollsters say the vote is too close to call, amid a lack of interest in and understanding of the complex legal issues involved.

"An average citizen can hardly understand the compromise and the many facets of the border issue ...The responsibility for that decision should have remained in politics," Slovenian constitutional law expert Miro Cerar said on national TV in recent days.

Slovenian free daily Zurnal24 on Wednesday predicted that Sunday night's final of reality TV show Slovenia's Got Talent will draw more viewers than people who turn up to the referendum ballots.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project


EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us