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“Transatlantic relations are good, and despite their slightly different perspectives, the European Union and the USA are natural allies. The business sector’s voice should be stronger, and Slovenia has to be a proactive player on the global scene,” was the core message of AmCham’s latest Business Breakfast.

At the AmCham Business Breakfast titled “Slovenia’s Position in the International Environment,” AmCham EU CEO Susan Danger, Italian Ambassador to Slovenia HE Paolo Trichillo, former Slovenian ambassador to the US Božo Cerar PhD, Member of the Board of Directors of the Kolektor Group Valter Leban and Associate Professor of European Law at the Faculty of Government and European Studies Matej Avbelj PhD presented their views on international and European challenges. The discussion was facilitated by Nataša Briški MA, former US correspondent and the founder and editor of the website Metina lista, and Jurij Giacomelli MA, Director of Giacomelli Media.

AmCham EU CEO Susan Danger said that we have to remember that transatlantic relations are extremely important and productive relations, as they create some 25 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. “Our economic relations are still very good, we have to remember that. The relations are not bad, but these are turbulent times," said Danger. She said that the US is “totally committed” to its relationship with the EU, but the EU has to clean house in order to become an attractive partner.

Danger also stated that we have to be proactive and that the business sector should be more active. “Business has to speak up and change its way of thinking. You have to focus on how the economy helps create jobs, and how innovation and marketing contribute to prosperity. The conditions are not easy, the global challenges are real, but if business leaders speak about the challenges and what is good for business, things will change,” said the CEO of AmCham EU, who added that we need to focus on positive stories.

Former Slovenian ambassador to the US Božo Cerar said that relations between Slovenia and the US are of key importance for our country. “For a long time, we have neglected our relations with our strategic partner. We are a member of NATO and the European Union, we are part of the West and we have to act like it. Unfortunately in the last two years we have not kept our promises, but we have to be aware of the framework that we have joined and with which we share certain values – democracy, human rights, international law, the market economy, …” said the former ambassador, adding that Slovenia has to be more active, self-confident and innovative, and should not see itself as a small country. “Slovenia cannot be a one-topic country. It has to be innovative, courageous and proactive. The green economy and sustainable development are opportunities for Slovenia, which has to be bold,” added Dr. Cerar.

Matej Avbelj said that one of the main global challenges is the decline of constitutional democracy, the slow retreat of the international liberal order and multilateralism, along with the rise of old and new authoritarian regimes that take advantage of people’s uncertainty in the new global context created by the consequences of globalization, economic crises and the digital revolution. “That’s the big picture, but in the European Union everything is a reflection of that,” said Dr. Avbelj, who added that the European Union is undergoing an existential crisis. “The European Union has not solved any of its crises to date – neither its institutional, economic nor financial crises, and when the next crisis comes it will be worse than the last one.

Kolektor Group Board of Directors Member Valter Leban said that the trade war between the EU and the US will affect his group, which is a supplier to the auto industry: “American president Donald Trump is determined to protect the American auto industry, and we are part of the supply chain. This will hurt us, but the question is how much and when… We also still don’t know what will happen between the US and Mexico, there is a lot of instability,” said Leban, adding that a new trade agreement would definitely help in resolving such issues.

Italian Ambassador to Slovenia HE Paolo Trichillo stated that migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the European Union, as the EU has moved from the denial stage to the awareness stage, and we need effective mechanisms, otherwise the issue will overwhelm us. Another major challenge is Brexit, and the unfinished project of the banking union. “A lot of this is on the table and is being tested. This will require a great deal of political will and readiness to achieve a consensus in order to find the solutions,” said Ambassador Trichillo. “It has been ten years since the fall of Lehman Brothers, but nothing much has changed. There have been no structural changes, and we are not asking ourselves the right questions,” he stated, adding that in order to create a stronger Europe we will have to look at the big picture, ask ourselves the right questions, and not look away but start changing things.

dr. Božo Cerar about the global scene

dr. Matej Avbelj about the changed relations in the world

Susan Danger about the challenges the EU and the world are facing

Valter Leban about the effect of trade wars 


You can watch the whole video of AmCham Business Breakfast HERE.

You can see the photos of the event on our Facebook page.