Focusing on concerns about prosecutor appointments, media freedom, and risks to the rule of law in Slovenia, MEPs also note progress achieved in several areas.
In a resolution adopted with 356 votes for, 284 against, and 40 abstentions, MEPs consider the developments in Slovenia with respect to the state of EU values in the country. MEPs are deeply concerned about a “climate of hostility, distrust and deep polarisation”. The vote is the conclusion of a plenary debate that previously took place in November 2021.
Media freedom concerns
Parliament notes the resumption of state payments to the Slovenian News Agency STA, but calls on the government to continue operating in line with its legal obligations, while guaranteeing the Agency’s editorial independence.
MEPs remain concerned about attacks, smear campaigns and SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) against journalists by prominent public figures and politicians, including members of the government. They call on the government to secure sufficient funding for public television station RTV Slovenia and cease all political interference in its editorial policy.
Media ownership transparency is another area of concern. MEPs want clear rules on the state’s and state-owned companies’ advertising expenditure, and they want to ensure proper access to public information. The resolution notes the legislative amendments put forward by the government that would increase media ownership transparency, and calls for speeding up the deliberations on the still-pending Mass Media Act.
Issues with Slovenian prosecutors
Parliament welcomes the appointment (albeit delayed) of Slovenia’s Delegated Prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), but expresses its concerns on proposed amendments to the accompanying law that would allow retroactive changes to appointment criteria. This could lead to the risk of the two new Delegated Prosecutors being dismissed. Taking note of the increase in resources of the Judicial and State Prosecutorial Councils, Parliament calls on the government to conclude the appointment process for national prosecutors currently awaiting confirmation.
In 2021, the Slovenian government withheld the Slovenian News Agency’s funding for its public service for 312 days. Since November, payments were made for some outstanding amounts, but at least EUR 507,000 of claims for public service funding remain unpaid.
Only 206 of the 258 available posts for prosecutors in Slovenia are currently occupied. At least 15 state prosecutors-elect are awaiting to be appointed, while the Commission stated in its 2021 Rule of Law Report that the appointments are unjustifiably delayed.