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EU: Mr Fico (Slovak Presidency), “rebuilding citizens’ confidence”. Summit in Bratislava to redefine the Union

(Strasbourg) “Confidence” instead of “fear”. The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, who took over the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers on 1 July, takes the floor at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to explain his idea of Europe and present the programme of the six-month Presidency. Firstly, “the EU is a unique project, which brought peace to the Continent” as well as “economic and social development” in his country, Slovakia. However, he points out, “citizens today feel alienated” from the European project; indeed, “we need to interpret the Brexit vote as a sign of discomfort, not just from the British, but also from Europeans”. What is the way forward? According to Mr Fico, “we need a more flexible, less bureaucratic Europe, respectful of national diversities”, and “able to achieve concrete results in the daily lives of its citizens”. It is not by chance that the six-month agenda includes the digital single market, the energy union, and the banking union. This will deliver results and rebuild “confidence, thereby contributing to overcoming widespread fears” in the EU. Among the priorities, Mr Fico mentions dealing with migration: border controls, Schengen, cooperation with countries of origin and transit. But he does not make any reference to the EU’s internal solidarity, or relocation, or to helping those countries receiving large numbers of migrants. In order to redefine the future of the EU, Mr Fico recalls that there will be a European Council meeting in Bratislava on 16 September. “We will need to understand the myths and the half-truths” of the Eurosceptics as well as “the true weaknesses of the EU” in order to rethink the European project.

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