Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Slovakia to fight EU 'fragmentation'

  • Ivan Korcok says Slovakia can help the EU overcome an "extremely difficult period" (Photo: Slovak government)

Slovakia's main objective when it takes the EU Council presidency in July will be to avoid "fragmentation" and combat the perception of an East-West divide, its Europe minister has said.

"Buzzword number one is to tackle fragmentation," Ivan Korcok told journalists in Brussels on Thursday (12 May).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said there were "many good reasons to spread defeatism across Europe", but he did not share the view of an East-West divide and insisted Slovakia regarded its role "from a positive angle".

The Slovak presidency could contribute to overcoming "this extremely difficult period for the EU development", said Korcok, a former Slovak ambassador to the EU.

Slovakia's first time in the EU chair comes at a delicate moment.

On one of the most difficult challenges for the EU, the migration crisis, Slovakia has been one of the main opponents of the European Commission and the majority of other member states.

As chair of the ministers council, Slovakia knows it will have to build consensus between the 28 member states, especially on the asylum package proposed by the commission on 4 May.

"Obviously it will be difficult," the minister said.

EU countries need "sustainable migration and a sustainable asylum policy", he said.

"Migration is not a problem as such, the problem is that with the dimensions we were confronted with last year, it became unsustainable," he said

'Building blocks'

Korcok stressed the need to strengthen control at the external borders of the Schengen passport-free area.

He said Slovakia would work to make the EU border and coast guard operational and that he expected a "very important agreement" to be made on so-called smart borders, the plan to develop electronic management of EU borders.

But the country has so far refused to welcome even the asylum seekers required by the EU relocation scheme adopted last year.

And according to a Slovak source, authorities in Bratislava consider that the commission's latest asylum proposal, which contains fines for countries that refuse to take refugees, could break the consensus countries were reaching after last year's.

However, a Slovak source said that the authorities would ask their partners in the Visegrad Four group – Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary – to tone down their anti-immigration rhetoric in order to avoid tensions with other member states.

Another risk of fragmentation Slovakia could face when it takes the helm on 1 July will be the aftermath of the British EU referendum.

If the UK votes to stay in, Korkoc said Slovakia's role will be “to implement the package that was offered to the UK” in February.

If the Brexit option wins the referendum, the Slovak presidency will reflect what EU leaders will say when they meet for a summit on 28-29 June, he said.

That is why Slovakia will wait until after the summit to publish its presidency programme so that it includes the leaders' guidelines about how to handle the referendum outcome.

In the meantime, the Slovak source said, the country was not working on contingency plans in case of a British exit.

If migration and a possible Brexit do not plunge the Slovak presidency into crisis mode, Bratislava intends to push for progress in three other areas, Korcok said, calling them "building blocks".

The first block will be financial and economic affairs. That include talks on the 2017 EU budget and on the upcoming 2021-2026 financial framework, as well as the capital market union - to ease funding of business in Europe - and the future of the Economic and Monetary Union.

The second block will be the different dimension of the single market, mainly the digital and energy unions.

The Slovak minister said that these issues were part of the need to tackle fragmentation in the EU as well as delivering results to reconcile citizens with the EU.

The third block will be the EU's external relations, including trade - mostly the EU-US free-trade talks and the question of whether to grant China a market economy status - and enlargement.

"Enlargement remains instrumental to stabilise the EU's neighbourhood," the Slovak minister said, adding that candidate countries also needed to understand that "the only way to get closer to the EU is to make clear progress" on what the EU expects.

New Slovak government in convalescence

An unprecedented left-right coalition should be sworn in this week, but the prime minister's hospitalisation for a heart surgery casts uncertainty on the country's politics.

Computer to make EU asylum decisions

The EU commission has presented sweeping reforms of the "Dublin" asylum regulation that include deferring the most painful decisions to a computer in Malta.

Focus

Ambivalent Slovakia prepares to take EU helm

Prime minister Robert Fico, one of main critics of EU migration policies, is about to lead Slovakia into its first presidency of the EU Council. He says he wants "normal dialogue" but will "not keep silent".

Focus

Smiles and frowns in Slovak EU logo

The Slovak EU presidency logo contains a smily emoji. But its 23 year-old designer made other faces in case things go wrong.

UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit

Britain wants to negotiate with Brussels the end date of the Brexit transition period - without saying what their preferred end date would be. The UK's position paper disagrees with the EU on other key points too.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission