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Fico reports back from EU meeting

INSTEAD of being given guidance by the European Union, it will be more or less up to member countries what pro-growth measures they adopt in order to emerge from the gloom of continent-wide economic crisis. This is how Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico interpreted the May 23 meeting of European leaders at which, among other things, they voiced a desire for Greece to stay in the eurozone, on condition that it respects its obligations. Nevertheless, eurozone states will now prepare their own contingency plans to deal with Greece’s possible exit from the single currency.

INSTEAD of being given guidance by the European Union, it will be more or less up to member countries what pro-growth measures they adopt in order to emerge from the gloom of continent-wide economic crisis. This is how Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico interpreted the May 23 meeting of European leaders at which, among other things, they voiced a desire for Greece to stay in the eurozone, on condition that it respects its obligations. Nevertheless, eurozone states will now prepare their own contingency plans to deal with Greece’s possible exit from the single currency.

The issue of a Greek exit was not, however, the main focus of the meeting, Fico told the press, adding that this issue would be decided by the Greek government that emerged from elections there in June, the TASR newswire reported.

Fico described reports about member states getting ready for Greece’s departure from the currency union as “disinformation”, adding that during the informal summit the issue was not discussed at all, TASR wrote.

Nevertheless, the Slovak prime minister admitted to the media that he had expected substantially more from the meeting in Brussels.

“The summit suggests that it will be more or less up to member countries what measures they take,” Fico said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “I am leaving with the conviction that it is first of all up to us what we at home in Slovakia decide to do and what measures we are able to prepare to support economic growth.”

Fico noted that there was accord over the use of so-called project bonds to finance large investment projects, as well as the issue of extending the capacity of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Slovak prime minister had earlier suggested that his government would support the idea of project bonds, stating that “it is a technique which is used in the Anglo-American financial system rather than Europe, but something like this would certainly help us”, SITA wrote. Fico added that project bonds were one of the few issues on which the leaders were able to reach agreement, unlike the idea of introducing taxes on financial transactions at a European level, an area where Fico does not see any quick agreement on the horizon.

Fico, however, said that he supported the idea of Eurobonds, which would be jointly guaranteed by the whole eurozone, as a way of solving the debt crisis. Nevertheless, according to SITA, Slovakia’s permanent representative to the EU, Ivan Korčok, noted that Eurobonds are not currently in line with European legislation and would need to be given a legal basis in the Lisbon Treaty.

Fico, in his own words, also officially requested representatives of the European Commission to demonstrate more flexibility in deciding on the re-allocation of European funds in order to support youth employment.

“We first of all care about the EU making transfers between funds possible,” Fico stated, as quoted by SITA.

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