Fico Advises Against Dilly-dallying in Joining EU Core

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Prime Minister Robert Fico (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, June 21 (TASR) – If Slovakia is serious about being at the EU’s core, it must act with get-up-and-go, rather than merely waiting for somebody else to take the initiative and joining in later, said Prime Minister Robert Fico at a session of the parliamentary European affairs committee on Wednesday.

“We shouldn’t miss out on being at the core. We’re not deluding ourselves, and we realise that we’ll be expected to take tangible measures and decisions. It appears as though one of the first measures that countries seeking to be at the core will prioritise is the ability of a member state to contribute with military capabilities to collaboration in defence,” said Fico, who was speaking ahead of a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

According to the premier, mechanisms in defence are already in place, such as enhanced cooperation between member states in terms of the armed forces.

Fico went on to admit the possibility of restructuring expenditures on the armed forces. “We want to devote our attention to this so that we don’t miss out on these things,” he said.

Much has been done for the EU’s internal security, said Fico. “Public opinion is pushing the European Commission into active steps. In 2020, an electronic system for better checks of third-country citizens entering the Schengen Zone will begin operating. The EITAS system [European Travel Information and Authorisation System – ed. note], which facilitates the collection of information about passengers before they arrive in the Schengen Zone, will also become operational in 2020,” he added.

Turning to migration, Fico said that the EU is yet again struggling to cope with it. “As of May 30, 2017, more than 60,000 people had crossed the central Mediterranean route, which is 26 percent more than last year. While inflows on the Balkan route dropped by 99 percent, Libya is in tatters. This is partly why we view the European Border and Coast Guard as a service that we need to continue to perfect,” said Fico.