EU membership had been Slovenia's strategic goal and the wish of Slovenian citizens since the country's independence. Slovenia actively pursued its European orientation by developing and building institutional relations with the EU.
Slovenia's aspiration to join the EU stemmed from its close political, economic and cultural cooperation with the EU and its cultural and societal position in Europe. Joining the EU was also important for security reasons, as Slovenia believed that it could address national security and defence issues more effectively within the EU and NATO.
Slovenia's journey into the European Union
1993 - Cooperation agreement
The legal and institutional framework for relations between Slovenia and the EU was established by a cooperation agreement. The negotiations for the agreement started in July 1992. On 5 April 1993, the cooperation agreement between Slovenia and the then European Economic Community was signed. It entered into force on 1 September of the same year.
1997 - Association agreement
Slovenia formally requested the opening of negotiations on the association agreement on 10 June 1996. On 11 November 1996, Slovenia and the EU signed an interim trade agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 1997. With this agreement, the part of the association agreement relating to trade, which defined the free trade area between Slovenia and the member states, entered into force.
1998 - Beginning of negotiations
On 16 July 1997, the European Commission presented an opinion on candidate countries for EU membership (Agenda 2000). As the opinion on Slovenia was favourable, in December 1997 Slovenia was included in the first round of countries to start negotiations, which officially began on 31 March 1998. The negotiations ended at the end of 2002 with an agreement on Slovenia's accession conditions.
2003 - Referendum on joining the EU
Prior to accession, Slovenia adapted its legislation to EU regulations, except in areas where certain exceptions and transitional periods were agreed on in the negotiations. On 23 March 2003, the majority of Slovenian citizens voted in favour of Slovenia joining the EU in a referendum.
2004 - Slovenia becomes a full member of the EU
On 1 May 2004 Slovenia became a full member of the EU after completing the accession process. In addition to providing financial and developmental advantages, EU membership also opened up new opportunities for Slovenian citizens as regards living, working and studying in other member states.
2007 - Slovenia becomes a member of the Schengen Area
On 21 December 2007 Slovenia became a member of the Schengen Area and abolished border controls at its internal land and sea borders with EU member states. Checks at air borders were lifted on 30 March 2008. This made travelling around the EU much easier.
By joining the Schengen Area, Slovenia abolished border controls at its borders with Austria, Italy and Hungary, and at the same time strengthened controls at its border with Croatia, which has become the external border of the Schengen Area.
2007 - Slovenia adopts the euro
Slovenia introduced the euro on 1 January 2007, thus becoming the first new member state to join the eurozone. The transition from tolar to euro occurred without much difficulty and the common currency made payments and transactions much easier for citizens and businesses.
2008 - The first presidency of the Council of the European Union
On 1 January 2008, Slovenia assumed the six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time. The first presidency was marked by the preparations for the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Upon Kosovo's declaration of independence, Slovenia succeeded in maintaining the unity of the EU with regard to key questions and preventing the destabilisation of the Western Balkans. Other notable events included the EU-US Summit and the start of the implementation of the Black Sea Synergy.
Slovenia and EU institutions
Slovenia is represented in all EU institutions. Slovenian citizens, as politicians, officials and other experts, actively participate in the work of EU institutions and bodies.
-The European Parliament, which represents the voices of EU citizens, includes eight Slovenian Members.
-The European Commission, which represents the common interests of the EU, is composed of one commissioner from each member state. In the 2019-2024 term, the Slovenian commissioner is responsible for crisis management.
-The Council of the European Union represents the interests of members states and meets in different configurations at different levels. The Slovenian representatives include ministers, representatives of ministries and government offices and diplomats from the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU.
-The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia represents Slovenia's political interests in the European Council.
-The Economic and Social Committee includes seven Slovenian members, who represent the interests of employers, trade unions and various interest groups.
-The European Committee of the Regions includes seven Slovenian members, who represent two representative organisations of Slovenian local communities - the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia and the Association of Municipalities of Slovenia.