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25th Aug 2019

Slovakia's Fico warns of referendum 'adventures'

  • Referendums in the UK and Italy have created uncertainty, Fico argues (Photo: Aleksandra Eriksson)

Slovak prime minister Rober Fico has urged EU leaders to avoid referendum "adventures" on domestic issues because they are putting the EU and the euro at risk.

Fico, whose country held the EU rotating presidency until the end of last year and which is a member of the eurozone, warned of implications for the single currency.

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"I am asking EU leaders to stop with adventures like the British and Italian referendums ... on domestic issues which pose a threat to the EU," he told reporters on Monday (2 January).

The UK voted to to leave the bloc last June, while Italy's former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, called a referendum on constitutional reforms, which he lost, in December, forcing him to resign and creating political uncertainty in the eurozone's third biggest economy.

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on the country's EU and euro membership if she wins May's presidential elections.

Austria's far-right party, the FPO, whose candidate came second in presidential elections last year has also toyed with the idea of a referendum on EU membership.

"Britain is not a eurozone country, Italy has a huge impact on the banking sector, the euro," Fico warned.

"What will we do if ... there is a referendum in Italy on the euro and Italian citizens decide they don't want the euro?”, Fico was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Slovakia's own anti-immigrant party, Our Slovakia, wants out of the EU and has also been gathering signatures to trigger a referendum on the issue.

Referendums left a mark on the Slovak presidency, which took over the rotating presidency a few days after the Brexit vote.

Hungary also held a referendum in October on rejecting an EU policy on migration quotas, something that Slovakia likewise opposes.

The Netherlands held a non-binding plebiscite on the EU-Ukraine association agreement in April, which it rejected, forcing EU leaders at the December summit to give fresh assurances to Dutch PM Marc Rutte that Ukraine was not in line to join the bloc to enable him to ratify the agreement.

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EU legitimacy in question

From lost referendums to growing contention of the EU's role in policies, people's commitment to the European project has diminished further this year.

Italy referendum spooks eurozone

Prime minister Matteo Renzi's resignation, followed by a crushing rejection of his reforms, has sent the euro plunging against the dollar and put the country's fragile banking system at risk.

Orban spins migrant vote result, as EU celebrates

Hungarians have rejected xenophobia with their resounding no-show to Viktor Orban's referendum on Sunday, according to European politicians. But the prime minister claims the vote has validated his battle with Brussels.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

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