AS EXPECTED the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a permanent rescue fund proposed by eurozone countries to deal with the sovereign debt crisis and other fiscal problems, was passed by Slovakia’s parliament on June 22. In the end, 118 MPs out of 144 present voted in support, 20 voted against, one did not vote and five abstained.
It was expected that Slovakia’s approval of the ESM would sail smoothly through parliament as Prime Minister Robert Fico’s party, Smer, holds a majority of seats. Fico had pledged that Slovakia would approve the legislation before the end of June. Smer hold 83 seats and only 76 votes were required in the 150-member chamber. Moreover, parties in opposition, except the Freedom of Solidarity (SaS) party and some MPs from the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) party, stated that they would support the European rescue programme.
“Along with voicing accord with this agreement we say also ‘yes’ to the stress on structural changes and ‘yes’ to following the rules,” stated Ivan Štefanec, an MP from the Slovak Christian Democratic Movement (SDKÚ), during the parliamentary debate, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) told the media that it was taking a realistic stance on the ESM, neither too sceptical nor too optimistic.
“This is not about feelings but about responsibility, Slovak as well as European,” stated Ján Figeľ, the chairman of KDH, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
Slovakia will be required to deposit nearly €660 million in cash with the ESM to be paid in five tranches, and the total of Slovakia's financial guarantees would be €5.768 billion, TASR wrote.
Finland ratified the ESM treaty on June 21. The European Stability Fund is planned to become operational on July 1 and replace the EFSF, the European Financial Stability Facility, but delays in the ratification process could mean a later start. France, Greece and Slovenia have fully completed ratification of the ESM treaty and Germany’s parliament is scheduled to vote on June 29.