13th Jul 2020

EU socialists kick out Slovaks in 'historic' move

European socialists have made a "historical" move to temporarily suspend the party of the Slovak prime minister from its meetings and decision-making, due to Slovakia's social democrats lining up with extreme nationalists in the country's ruling coalition.

After almost a three-hour debate at the European socialist party's headquarters in Brussels on Thursday (13 October), national delegations from all EU member states but Slovakia and the Czech Republic voted to freeze contacts with the Slovak SMER party.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We have decided on a resolution which is historical," said Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the president of the Party of European Socialists (PES), adding "Never before in our history we had such a clear, open and frank discussion about our values."

He stressed that the decision signalled not only the party's view on the "regretful" situation in Slovakia but it had consequences for any potential links between socialist sister parties and the far-right in any other European country in the future.

"If we are not clear on extreme right-wing parties and on their relations with us, we are are really not defending our values and our responsibility for the whole of Europe," said Mr Rasmussen.

Robert Fico, SMER and Slovakia's leader, reacted with anger to the decision, arguing his party has been "punished for making politics in favour of people" and also because of its fight against monopolies - often owned by foreigners.

"We were also being punished for not taking the Hungarian party into the ruling coalition instead," he said through his spokeswoman.

Thursday's verdict means that the SMER party will not participate in any official sessions of the pan-European parties, it will lose its voting powers, plus Mr Fico will not meet other social democrat leaders at top gatherings, such as the traditional sessions before EU summits.

However, the European socialists want to keep in touch with the party and have agreed to meet next June and re-assess the situation in Slovakia - particularly with regards to the behaviour of SMER's coalition partner, the Slovak National Party led by Jan Slota.

Mr Slota has been criticised for his racist and extreme statements in the past.

"We can then either conclude that there has been a major reform in the Slota's party and a move away from extremist views or there's a possibility of a new ruling coalition in the country," Dutch socialist MEP Jan Marinus Wiersma told EUobserver.

"Perhaps, the European socialists' decision will trigger a change for the better in the party," he said.

Slovakia signals U-turn on tax

Slovakia has signalled for the first time it is eventually willing to enter into discussion about Brussels' desire to move into well-protected tax area, a move that has led to a political clash between the government and its opposition.

Rule-of-law row complicates budget talks

Disagreements are running deep between EU leaders over the overall size of the budget and recovery package, the criteria and mode of distribution and the conditions, with rule of law "another battle ground opening up".

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit


On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us