Europe's week: Controversy as Slovenia takes over the EU Council presidencyComments
As Europeans shift into summer vacation mode, it was fitting that the news from Brussels was positive this week.
The EU Commission revealed its economic forecast and the recovery seems to be picking up pace rapidly. Brussels also expects to hit its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated during July.
But as for the Slovenian six-month council presidency of the EU, things look less bright.
Its government is accused of violating the freedom of the press, tampering with judicial independence and failing to cooperate with the new European prosecutor's office, which will investigate misuse of EU funds.
Running the Slovenian government is Janez Jansa, a man who was once sentenced to prison time on corruption charges and who believes that Donald Trump won the last US presidential election.
And this week, the European Parliament debated the program of the Slovenian presidency and Jansa, not surprisingly, got an earful.
“Smear campaigns and intimidation of free media, civil society and looking for scapegoats. Those are not the acts we expect from a European government," Green MEP Ska Keller said on Tuesday.
“Attacks on journalists of free media, pressure on the judiciary and your interference in the nomination of a prosecutor to EPPO are intolerable," Sophie In 't Veld MEP said.
“Let me be very clear. Any problem related to the rule of law is not an internal affair of a member state. It is not just a problem for the member state concerned, but a problem for all Europeans," SOT Manfred Weber, chairman of the EPP group told European lawmakers.
With the EU presidency comes more scrutiny and accountability for the country, but for him, looking at the rule of law situation in Slovenia isn't a priority.
"I fully support the rule of law. But there are other problems, for example in Belarus there are 400 political prisoners who are dying, and they also deserve our support. So, there are many, many other problems that are immeasurably more relevant than the one we are now wasting time on," Jansa said.
Jansa is a close ally of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban who has been under heavy fire for his country's controversial LGBT law that curbs sex education in a way that crudely stigmatises homosexuality.
Orban has been scorning EU values for years, but many European leaders seem to think this time he has gone too far.