London/Bratislava, February 4 (TASR) – Slovakia will ask for guarantees that new proposals regarding social aid for expatriates from other EU countries who work in Great Britain won’t adversely affect locally employed Slovaks.
“Officially, we have 60,000 Slovaks in the country and I couldn’t agree with them being affected by conditions that would significantly limit their rights to various social benefits,” Prime Minister Robert Fico told TASR after his bilateral talks with British counterpart David Cameron in London on Thursday. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Supporting Syria and the Region international conference.
Fico called the curbing of these benefits discriminatory because he believes that anyone is entitled to a right to work in Britain under same conditions as any local citizen. “We insist that those who already work there mustn’t be affected with such measures. We’ve been assured that the change won’t have retroactive effect,” said Fico.
The Prime Minister perceives the proposal tabled by European Council President Donald Tusk as a good springboard for a UK-EU agreement and declared Slovakia’s readiness to discuss it. The document, according to Fico, calls into question many issues, but it is the interpretation of individual provisions that would carry the greatest importance, though. “We need guarantees that this won’t harm our citizens. Therefore, we’ll be content only once we see this put to paper,” underlined Fico, adding that such a change of rules is feasible in the future, but not as a sudden reversal half into the game.
On the contrary, Slovakia sees no problem in proposed relations between Eurozone members and non-members. “For the first time, however, a two-speed EU is entertained, meaning that some of the countries will integrate quicker than those outside of eurozone,” said Fico.
There’s also a consensus on the need to bolster the competitiveness of the EU, with Fico supporting Cameron’s initiative on lessening the administrative burdens standing in the way of business. Slovakia also doesn’t oppose the so-called red card mechanism, which would enable 55 percent of national parliaments of the 28-member EU to block legislation [put forward by the European Commission].
“It would be a loss-loss situation for both sides if Britain left the EU,” said Fico, adding that he welcomes the fact that Donald Tusk submitted a compromise proposal.