20th Anniversary Celebration: Slovenia's EU Membership Milestone Honoured in Nova Gorica

Published: 8.5.2024 More info

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20th Anniversary Celebration: Slovenia's EU Membership Milestone Honoured in Nova Gorica

Twenty years have passed since Slovenia joined the European Union. The national celebration took place on Thursday, May 9, in Nova Gorica, where Slovenian leaders reflected on the final moments leading up to the historic event on April 30, two decades prior. Throughout this transformative period, Slovenia has forged a success story in various areas, including tourism.

20th Anniversary Celebration: Slovenia's EU Membership Milestone Honoured in Nova Gorica

​The celebration took place symbolically near the Square of Europe, where 20 years ago, the then President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, and the Slovenian Prime Minister Dr. Anton Rop counted down the last seconds before joining the European Union, marking one of the turning points in the lives of Slovenian citizens. The guests were addressed by Prime Minister Dr. Robert Golob and European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič.

In his speech, Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob stressed that Europe is much more than a collection of countries or a political institution: "Europe is also a community of values. It is also about inclusion, cohesion between peoples, and the promotion of diversity," and pinpointed that Slovenia's journey in the European Union has been a long one: "We started as a candidate country. It was a period of ten years and it was not always easy. But we have learned a lot."

The event highlighted the idea of European unity and emphasized the opportunities that Slovenia gained from joining the Union. Director MSc. Neda R. Bric carefully selected performers and words that connected past, present, and future. The program aimed to promote solidarity and peace in the face of rising tensions, emphasizing the importance of embracing diversity within the European community.

This was complemented by various events, from a simulation of the European Parliament and an activity market prepared by the students of the Nova Gorica High School, a presentation of successful projects implemented with the help of European funds, a talk by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs with selected Slovenians in the EU institutions, and the presentation of the European Capital of Culture 2025.

More about the event

Presentation of Successful Projects Implemented with EU Funding

As part of Slovenia's commemoration of its 20th anniversary in the EU, a showcase of successful projects funded by the EU was held at Bevkov Square in Nova Gorica. Following the celebrations, a culinary gathering, organized jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food and the Slovenian Tourist Board, unfolded. Through the exhibition of Slovenian food products safeguarded by the EU, visitors were acquainted with European values and accomplishments in preserving food diversity, while indulging in the gastronomic delights of our nation's top-notch cuisine.

In the photo: Uroš Fakuč, the recipient of the 2023 Michelin award from Nova Gorica, brings Slovenia's gastronomic experiences closer to visitors.

Slovenian Tourism's Success Story Over the Last Two Decades

Slovenian tourism, which has always been strongly integrated in the European landscape, has experienced a revitalization with Slovenia's full EU membership, significantly fueling its growth and success over the past two decades. Today, tourism stands as one of the most important and at the same time promising sectors of Slovenia, playing a vital role in its economic performance, development, and global visibility and reputation of Slovenia.

  • Today, tourism contributes nearly 10% to the gross domestic product, with over 92,000 individuals employed in the sector, accounting for 10% of total employment.
  • Over the last 20 years, the influx of foreign visitors has tripled, while overnight stays have surged by 2.6 and total tourist numbers by 3.7 times.
  • The value of travel exports increased from €1.2 billion in 2004 to €3.24 billion in 2023.
  • Tourism has made a key contribution to shaping the image of Slovenia on the European and global markets over the last two decades. Tourism promotes Slovenia as a sustainable, green destination at the crossroads of the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Karst and the Pannonian Plain, offering exceptional diversity in a small space, which in turn provides a wide range of interesting experiences for lovers of healthy, active holidays, cultural experiences, gastronomy, and business visitors.
  • Throughout this period, tourism has significantly strengthened the 'I Feel Slovenia' communication brand, launched in 2007, by highlighting the brand's values and developing sustainable tourism, gaining traction across various domains in recent years.
  • Slovenia has received a great deal of professional and media attention over the last 20 years, which has been reflected in Slovenia's increased visibility and reputation, a series of awards and rankings, with tourism playing a pivotal role in this achievement.
  • Tourism has played a key role in the sustainable development of Slovenia, offering boutique, innovative, and high-value experiences based on unique, authentic and green experiences.
  • Tourism has made an important contribution to the sustainable development of Slovenia, and the Slovenian Tourism Green Scheme has played a key role in this.


For tourism, joining the area without internal borders signifies an unparalleled opportunity to "experience Europe without borders".

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