On Monday, 8 October 2018, Slovenia was awarded the title of European Gastronomic Region 2021 at a solemn ceremony in Brussels. The ceremony took place in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities at the premises of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the European Union. Speaking at the event, the Ambassador of Slovenia to Belgium, Rado Genorio, noted that Slovenia has 24 gastronomic regions and 365 dishes and drinks of local cuisine. The ceremony was also attended by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Tanja Strniša and a representative of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Eva Štravs Podlogar.
This award opens up new prospects for the country to promote tourism services and traditional food products, such as salt, honey, wine. Many of them are already protected at the level of the EU, for example, Teran wine, Carniolan sausage (Kranjska klobasa), Prekmurje layer cake (Prekmurska gibanica) and Tolminc cheese.
As noted by the representatives of Slovenia, in the second half of 2021, the country will also hold the EU presidency, which will be an additional opportunity to promote Slovenian dishes and wines.
The project of the European Gastronomic Region has been implemented since 2016. Each year, an expert jury selects 1–3 candidates for this title. The concept of the project was developed by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art and Tourism.
The project involved 16 public and private entities, including the Slovenian Tourist Organization, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourist Union, the University of Primorska and the Slovenian Museum of Ethnography. The ambassadors of the project are Janez Bogataj, Luka Košir, Mira Šemić and Ana Roš.
Slovenia is the first country in Europe to be awarded this title. Previously, only individual regions received the title: in 2016 – Catalonia (Spain) and Minho (Portugal), in 2017 – Aarhus (Central Denmark), Eastern Lombardy (France) and Gauja – Riga (Latvia), in 2018 – Galway (Western Ireland) and North Brabant (the Netherlands), in 2019 – Sibiu (Romania) and South Aegeus (Greece) will hold the title, and in 2020 – Kuopio (Finland) will hold the title.