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Slovenia resumes funding for national press agency after Brussels pressure

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By Euronews with AFP
Prime Minister Janez Janša has previously described the agency as a "national disgrace".
Prime Minister Janez Janša has previously described the agency as a "national disgrace".   -   Copyright  STEPHANIE LECOCQ / POOL / AFP
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Slovenia's government has resumed funding for the country's national news agency after pressure from the European Union.

The Slovenian Press Agency (STA) had been heavily criticised by Prime Minister Janez Janša, who described the agency as a "national disgrace".

Questions over funding had been raised by the Slovenian government in December after the agency's management allegedly failed to provide the required documents on the company's accounts.

Slovenia told Euronews that no official decision had been made and it had only been informed of the possibility to suspend finance. The government had also asked Brussels whether the payment of such state aid to the press was not contrary to competition law.

For its part, the STA had said it refused to provide information on employees and editorial work, accusing the country's government of violating "freedom of the press".

But Slovenia has confirmed that the agency will regain its subsidies after Ljubljana received a letter from European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday.

"On the basis of the communication, a payment was provisionally approved ... pending a final decision by the European Commission," the government's communication office stated.

The STA, founded in 1990, receives around €2 million per year through a service contract.

Brussels had previously warned Ljubljana against any attempt to "pressure" the media, which "play a special role in the European Union".

"The media must be able to work freely and independently throughout the EU," said a European Commission spokesman, Christian Wigand.