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British Foreign Affairs Secretary talks EU reform in Slovakia

THE EUROPEAN Union needs reform, Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond concurred at a meeting in Bratislava on October 30, the TASR newswire reported.

THE EUROPEAN Union needs reform, Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond concurred at a meeting in Bratislava on October 30, the TASR newswire reported.

“There’s a need for this effort to engage all 28 member countries, however,” Lajčák told the press, cited by TASR, after a bilateral meeting with Hammond, which was followed by talks between Hammond and the foreign affairs ministers of the Visegrad Four grouping (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland).

He further said he will not label Britain as eurosceptic. He said their mutual aim is to make the EU more competitive, politically legitimate and closer to its citizens, according to the Pravda daily.

Hammond at the press conference emphasised that the UK sees its future in the EU and that it has been focusing on boosting the EU’s competitiveness, economic growth and creation of jobs at the expense of bureaucracy and rigid legislation in recent years.

“We want to make sure that reforms are carried out, that the EU will be competitive in the global economy in the future and that it will support economic growth and stability,” Hammond said, as quoted by TASR.

According to Hammond, the low turnout in the European Parliament elections in Slovakia (13 percent) in May reflects Slovaks’ views of the Union. The Union needs to move closer to its citizens and gain democratic trust, he said.

In fact, fewer than half of Slovaks (41 percent) trust European Union institutions, which places the country below the EU average (43 percent) for the first time ever, TASR learned from a Eurobarometer survey on same day.

Despite agreement with other states on many issues, there is still little support for other important topics promoted by Britain, such as placing certain restrictions on the free movement of people within the EU, said Hammond. According to him, there is a need to tackle various problems related to the free movement of people such as the misuse of welfare systems, according to TASR.

Source: TASR, Pravda

Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
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