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Slovenia to vote against List of EU Priority Projects

Slovenia will vote against a list of priority EU projects of common interest because of the inclusion of a disputed Italian gas terminal near the border with Slovenia, Infrastructure Minister Samo Omerzel announced on Monday. Later in the day, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said that the gas terminal will not be on the list.Despite the list including at least seven projects beneficial to Slovenia, the inclusion of the Aquilinia terminal has swayed the country to vote against the list, Omerzel said. Omerzel’s announcement, which came after an unscheduled meeting of the government, represents a change on a previous position under which Slovenia was set to abstain from the vote.
Slovenia opposes the regasification plant that Italy wants to build in Aquilinia (Žavlje), a few kilometres from the Slovenian border, because of environmental concerns.
The government’s decision comes a day after the opposition People’s Party (SLS) called on the government to ensure that Slovenia votes against the list of priority projects since abstaining would represent silent consent. A similar call was issued at the weekend by former Transport Minister Marko Pavliha and the Alpe Adria Green environmental organisation.
Omerzel said that the government had consulted with legal experts on the matter before coming to today’s decision. “The vote against will be a clear indication of how problematic the Aquilinia project is for Slovenia.”He said his ministry has been striving for some time to have the plans halted and would continue to “fight to ensure that the project does not succeed”.
There is no way the Commission will put the project on the list on 2 October, when the final vote will be taken, according to Foreign Minister Erjavec. Nothing dramatic will happen on Wednesday, he added, saying that the vote is nothing but a step in the process and that the important decision regarding the list will be made by the Commission in autumn. Moreover, “…no decision of the European Commission will be made without Slovenia’s consent,” said Erjavec.
While it remains unclear what course of action Slovenia would resort to in the future, Omerzel said that the country was ready to use all available means to prevent the project from going ahead. But given that it is expected to be the only country to vote against, its vote will be more symbolic.
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