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Slovakia raises its voice in EU

INTERIOR and justice ministers for the European Union drew months-long talks to a conclusion with a draft programme at a session in Luxemburg October 25. Among topics under discussion have been the EU's plans for justice and police cooperation, and asylum and immigration policy.

Slovakia managed to successfully exclude several proposals from the draft programme.

"We didn't allow a plan for a European border police, a sort of supplement to existing national border forces, to be included," Interior Minister Vladimír Palko told the TASR news agency after the session.

Although the document says the EU will address the same issue in two years time, "I can tell you right now that we will still have the same opinion," insisted Palko.

The Slovak Interior Minister also opposed the idea that majority, rather than unanimous, voting decide some EU asylum and immigration policies. In addition to Slovakia, opposition to majority voting came from Germany, Denmark and Poland.

"We failed to reach an agreement over this issue and a decision will probably be made at an EU summit," he said, adding that the draft programme is due to be approved by EU country-leaders at a November 4-5 summit.

The Slovak Justice Ministry had two key objections to the draft programme: the mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships and the establishment of a European prosecutor's office.

Under the wording approved at the session, there would be no obligation for EU countries to recognise same-sex partnerships, according to Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic.

The minister also opposes the idea of an EU prosecutor's office, as proposed by the yet-to-be approved EU constitution. Since several other countries uphold Lipšic's view, the minister believes this issue will be dropped from the programme. On the other hand, Slovakia does support greater powers for Eurojust, an EU body that coordinates the activities of national prosecutors.

"That's the area where the EU might provide some added value, but introducing a prosecutor's office would contravene the subsidiarity principle," Lipšic said.

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