FMA Visit in Slovenia

Lessons from Now for the Future of Europe 

During this second term of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Council, it was a great pleasure to meet our colleagues from FMA here on the Alpine side of the Union. Besides meetings with high political representatives, EPLO organized a discussion among Former Members of EP and young Slovenian students.

As Jean Monnet said, every challenge is a new opportunity for development, and thus so the post-pandemic period is a new opportunity. The youth said that more education about the EU is important for future elections, in order for young people to believe that every vote counts. 

Despite more than 38 million COVID-19 cases in the EU and more than 764,000 deaths, these youths were not convinced that three of the imposed restrictions during the epidemic were necessary: the restrictions on free movement, on gatherings and on the physical presence in schools and universities. Their disagreement with the restrictions is also reflected in demonstrations against these measures and against vaccination. 

My focus in the debate as former Health Minister related to the COVID-19 crisis and the Health Union. Uncertainty on the one hand and solidarity on the other, have taught us how we need to act in the future. We need higher levels of preparedness and higher levels of coordination.  I’d like to point out the historically important role of the EU Parliament and the ECDC. From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, ECDC was advising authorities in the MS giving scientific based guidance . In the future even more of this is required. 

Thanks to the EU connected research and knowledge the new anti-covid vaccines were developed and the EU created Digital Covid Certificate giving us new hope of free movement.  Today we have in EU on average 72% of full vaccination among adults.  

The epidemic made a huge impact on our lives and created health, social and economic crises. Post COVID 19 EU needs to be more resilient, sustainable and green.  That’s why we are creating the Health Union which aims to improve the EU levels of preparedness and response concerning human health hazards. The basic pillar of the Health Union is the HERA incubator, which is starting to connect knowledge within the EU, it will carry out threats assessments and develop models for forecasting.

A point Mahatma Gandhi once made is that it’s not possible to educate the young with words but by the way we live and with our own examples.  The same can be said for politics, which is why it is the responsibility from the left and right side of politics to be examples for young people in how we cooperate and build democracy and solidarity among all generations.  The standard of living we have in the EU is not a given and is not constant and that this crisis will not be the last. 

 Zofija Mazej Kukovič,