Dzurinda: We have transferred consumerism to politics

Former two-time prime minister who negotiated Slovakia's EU accession looks back.

Mikulas DzurindaMikulas Dzurinda (Source: Sme)

Marking the 15th anniversary of Slovakia's EU accession on May 1, former prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda gave an interview to the Sme daily, on the causes of the crisis in the union, what needs to change, how politicians abuse Brussels in the political fight, and he also gives his opinion on the local political scene, including the new party of President Andrej Kiska.

In the ongoing European election campaign, several parties invoke the "common sense" they say Europe is missing, or that the EU needs to be repaired after all those years. You said one year ago that the EU is sometimes unable to make fast and efficient decisions - like when it pondered whether to put two or three Belarussian companies on the sanctions list, while Lukashenka imprisoned opposition leaders. Does the EU lack common sense in any way?

That is a stupid simplification that we resort to when we have nothing to say. If we accepted the thesis that we lack common sense, we would offend not just the European and national leaders, but also the citizens of our continent. Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview for Sme that we blame the European Commission for everything, even things that do not fall under its competencies.

It is also our fault that we haven't been able to set the limits. The competencies of the EU and of the member states are blurred. We have repeatedly committed the sin that EU leaders, or leaders of the European Commission, the Council, and the Parliament, meddle with things they have nothing to do with.

Such as?

In the social sphere. Look at the report of Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini about Hungary. She helped Orbán a lot when she criticised not just the things that fall under the competencies of EU institutions, but she started pondering LGBTI protection in Hungary, and Hungarian pensions and maternal benefits. What does that have to do with EU institutions? Those are exclusively national competencies.

So what should the EU have a say about and what not, if EU membership is to be benefitial and the EU should function efficiently?

We need to focus on competencies that no member state can secure on its own and where decisions more than agreements are needed. And by decisions I mean fast and majority voting. Such areas include foreign policy, security policy, protection of external borders, the basic working of the eurozone, and the single market.

But the EU must not meddle with economic models of member states, of their pension system or cultural policies. Can you imagine that Trump would control the budget of the governor of Delaware before the deputies are asked to vote about it? That is what we are doing.

Still, I can hardly understand anyone who wants to make agreements rather than decisions about things like whom to put on a sanction list.

Interfering with national competencies also provides fuel for politicians who now use the EU and Brussels as a swearword, abusing them in political battles, even though in the 1990s it was something we wanted to belong to.

That is an accurate diagnosis of the reason why we now all complain about Juncker and about some European Union, even though we are a part of it. You have mentioned populism, which is one of the causes.

You always need to be saying something in politics, and for those who have nothing to say it is easiest to attack some imaginary Brussels. But the key reason why political parties behave that way is that serious parties that would have always come up with solutions in the past now seem to be scared.

We cannot escape immigration, regardless of how much we blab about the decreasing numbers. What if they start increasing again?

Why did pro-European and democratic politicians resign on proposing solutions?

The rest of this article is premium content at
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on and

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Top stories

News digest: Former state secretary describes the corruption at courts

Schools will definitely not open on Monday. Coronavirus vaccine could be available starting in mid-December. Slovakia joins campaign to fight violence against women.

The Presidential Palace lit in orange, to support the Orange the world! campaign.

One in five women has experienced violence

The situation is far from satisfactory, said President Čaputová.

Secret votes and public lies

There are uncanny echoes today of Slovakia’s agonies over its choice of chief prosecutor ten years ago.

Dobroslav Trnka (left) and Jozef Čentéš (right), the candidate who was eventually selected by MPs in 2011, never got to take up the post because the then president, Ivan Gašparovič refused to appoint him for reasons that were never clearly explained.

How a Catholic charity became a voice for migrants in Slovakia

Religious organisations have added leverage in changing perceptions of foreigners and migrants, says Caritas Slovakia.

Caritas Slovakia's ‘World Without “the Other” – Migration Myths’ campaign educates Slovaks on migration in a fun and artistic way.