European Council Simulation Report: Slovakia
There are two major crisis situations, which the European Council (EC) simulation in July 2017 focused on; the economic crisis and the migration crisis. Six years after Europe experienced a financial crisis, there is yet a risk for another one to occur, mainly due to the struggling economies of the countries in the EU such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. For a long time, Slovakia has remained one of the toughest members of the Eurozone regarding the bailing out of Greece to relief its debts, even after the Prime Minister said that the country would repay everything that it gets from the other members. Slovakia was the only member that withdrew from the original €110 billion Greek rescue organised by the Eurozone, and Slovakia almost denied Greece its support in 2011 in a bailout by the Eurozone worth €440 billion (Tomann 2017: 156). The vote for approving the rise in bailout resulted in collapsing of the Slovak government. Regarding the migration crisis, Slovakia has been reluctant on the issue of migration in the country especially since 2016 despite the increased number of refugees seeking asylum in the region (Trauner 2016: 315). EU has been opening doors for the refugees as Slovakia keeps tightening the policies on immigration. In the past, the EU court has even urged for the punishment of Slovakia and other countries such as Hungary for refusing to give in to assisting more refugees. The court has denied the bids by these two countries to be given permission not to take more refugees. Some of the countries especially those near the Mediterranean Sea such as Greece and Italy face the highest pressure since that is where the refugees settle first (Trauner 2016: 315).
In order to resolve this, the EU has set new policies, which require each member state to take a specified number of refugees. The Slovakian representatives on the council have had a hard time make decisions according to the policies set by the union (McFadyen 2017). They have challenged the union’s decisions such as the refugee schemes and the Greece bailout. Their choices are held between the interests of the country and those of EU, and the two are opposites.
This report gives an account of Slovakia’s negotiation position on migration crisis and the economic crisis. It will do so by, first, giving a summary of the policy, an analysis of the Slovakian profile in the European Union and a comprehensive overview of its position in the negotiation in these two policy areas. Following on, a conclusion will discuss the effect of the simulation exercise and reflect on what can be expected in the future in the policy areas.
1.1 Economic crisis
After the collapse of the Wall Street in 2008, Greece became the core of the debt crisis in Europe which affects most of the nations in the union including Slovakia. In 2009, Greece announced that it had a budget deficit of 12.9% of its GDP, which is four times more the union’s limit of 3% (McFadyen 2017; European Commission 2010). Greece lacked a better chance to find money to repay its debts. In 2010, the country made some plans to lower the deficit to 3% by 2012, but four months later, they said that this could default. EU and International Monetory Funds (IMF) offered a € 240 bailout but with austerity measures (BBC 2015). This crisis affects Slovakia since it is a member of the EU as well. Slovakia had succeeded getting over a crisis and they wanted Greece to follow what they did. Despite the refusal of some of the nations to fund the bailout, the EU had to fund the bailout or Greece would either default or leave the EU (Amadeo 2018). There were some demands made for this. Firstly, Greece had to increase the corporate tax rate and VAT, and the contribution of the worker to pension system. Then, they were to reduce early retirement incentives (McFadyen 2017). Leaders from the union did not want Greece to pay the old debts using the new ones. Lithuania and Slovakia were not ready to ask the citizens to pay for the Greece’s bailout. The debt for Greece had risen to 175% of the GDP by 2012, three times the 60% limit given by the union (McFadyen 2017).
1.2 Migration crisis
The migration crisis in Europe has caused a lot of divisive debates because it is an almost-impossible-to-solve issue. The European countries cannot agree on policies that can be applied to ensure that they resolve this issue once and for all. While the members have agreed on extra funding and tighter external borders, they have failed to agree on how to fairly distribute the refugees among themselves so that some states do not have more burden than the others (Brekke and Brochmann 2015: 150). Between 2015 and 2016 alone, 2.5 million individuals applied for asylum in Europe, with most of the arriving from Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece, and Italy (European Parliament 2017; Eurostat 2018). One of the attempts that EU has done to reduce immigration rates was through EU-Turkey agreement aimed at reducing the influx of refugees getting into Europe via Turkey (Ellyatt 2018). According to the deal, all refugees entering other European countries via Turkey and whose asylum has been declined were to be returned to Turkey. Another policy Slovakia has strongly opposed was that every country has to take a certain number of refugees at any given time. Therefore, Slovakia has to find all means possible to help in resolving this crisis. Nevertheless, after the European Union’s mandatory decision that Slovakia has to receive about 1200 immigrants, the ex-Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico claimed that Slovakia will only accept 100 refugees, but exclusively Christian ones (Robert 2015).
2 Slovakia’s Profile in the Simulation Exercise
2.1 Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini
2.1.1 Personal and Political Background
Pellegrini entered the field of politics in 2006 where he won the election in the National Council for Direction. He was re-elected twice in 2010 and 2012 . He served as a State secretary from 2012 to 2016 for finance (Burčík and Krbatová 2018). He also served in ministries of Sport, Research, Science, and Education as a minister. In the third government of Robert Fico in 2016, he served as the Investment Deputy Prime Minister. After the resignation of Robert Fico early this year, Pellegrini preceded him as the Slovakian Prime Minister (Jancarikova 2018).
2.1.2 Their Positions on the EU and its Policies Held by that Leader in the Past
Pellegrini has been the deputy of Robert Rico, and he has followed his steps since he took the seat in March this year. He is as well opposed to the European Union’s Greece bailout programs (Montgomery 2018). Pellegrini has not changed this stance and is likely to work with this position unchanged since releasing money for a bailout would mean that the Slovakian citizens will be suffering for nothing. His party, Direction – Social Democracy, has been in the government for most of the years since its formation and the members have been advocating anti-bailout policies (Montgomery 2018). Thus, Pellegrini’s position is similar to that of the party he leads and the stance does not seem to change.
On the issue of migration crisis, Peter Pellegrini has strongly opposed EU’s policies on refugee settlement and mass immigration. Speaking at Slovak television two months ago, Pellegrini claimed that the immigration policies by the EU should not make decisions for the Slovak citizens who are later forced to welcome strangers from elsewhere without their consent (Spencer 2018). This was an explicit reference of Pellegrini to Angela Merkel, who he criticized for letting over a million refugees to Germany. On the same show, he said he was thankful to Prime Minister Orbán (Hungary) for ensuring minimum entry through the southern border. Conclusively, Pellegrini holds that Slovakian authorities will only accept refugees on their terms and in limited amounts.
Slovakia has a population of 5.4 million citizens, which forms a small percentage of the total EU’s population. For a long time, it remained a close partner of the Czech Republic. The two nations co-operate with Poland and Hungary in the Visegrad Group (Missiroli 2004: 99). Slovakia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in March 2004 and EU on May the same year. It joined the eurozone in 2009 (Dąborowski 2009: 1). The contribution of the European Union into Slovakia was € 2.663 billion, and this is 3.34% of the state’s gross national income (GNI) (European Union 2018). EU’s expenses in Slovakia amounted to € 0.646 billion which is 0.81% of Slovakian GNI (European Union 2018).
2.2.2 Country’s Role in the EU
Politically, there are various representatives of Slovakia in The European Union. There are 13 Members of Parliament in the EU from Slovakia and several ministers in the Council who are engaged depending on which issue is at hand (Spencer 2018). The presidency seat has been held by a Slovakian before from July-December 2016 (European Union 2018). EU president is supposed to serve a one term tenure which runs for six months. The budget shown above on the Slovakian contribution to the union and the union’s expenditure on Slovakia shows that the EU does not aim to redistribute the acquired wealth but instead focuses on the needs of the whole continent at large (Slovak Spectator 2018). Although there have been tough policies put forward especially regarding migration crisis, Slovakia seems to accept some of the deals from the EU which shows its need for a better and a stronger union (Slovak Spectator 2018).
3 Slovakia’s Position on the Topic
3.1 Economic Crisis
It is quite embarrassing for such a country as Greece to borrow from a poorer country as Slovakia. It is hard to tell if Greece should take offence by Slovakia’s choice to not lend to Greece (Foy 2015). Bearing in mind that the refusal to give them a loan, given they belong to the same group, Eurozone, is the same as Slovaks saying that they do not trust that Greece can be able to repay the loan along with the interest (Auer 2014: 330; McFadyen 2017). However, lending money to Greece can be risky to the value of the euro as it means that the incompetence of Greece to repay means that the purchasing power for all the citizens of Eurozone will be reduced, including those in Slovakia. Generally, Slovakia is willing to help another country, but not Greece (McFadyen 2017).
Adopting the euro means getting ready for endless sacrifices such as bailouts which Slovakia does not seem ready for. Countries that closely partner with Greece such as Estonia stay with the fear that Greece might one day default a loan, placing Estonia’s economy at risk (Dąborowski 2009: 1). This way, it can be assumed that Slovakia fears uncertainty because Greece does not seem to benefit from the many aids that it has been given, including the series of bailouts from the EU. For example, the effect of the recession can be fatal, Slovakia is likely to face an economic slowdown. Slovakia is one of the countries in the EU, which has been able to deal with the economic crisis more effectively. Like any other country in the Eurozone, Slovakia is enjoying several benefits such as consideration by investors without having to struggle to market financial enquiries (Dąborowski 2009: 3).
3.2 Migration Crisis
Slovakia is reluctant in accepting some of the policies established by the EU to address the irregular migration. The money that the members of the Visegrad Group have contributed to the union is mainly meant for tightening security at the borders through the creation of rescue centers and resuming boat patrols (Brady 2008: 412; Wunderlich 2013: 410). These countries are not ready to feed the refugees in Europe, but they are ready to give out aids to help prevent the refugees from seeking asylum in Visegrad countries by remaining in their respective countries (Brady 2008: 412). The aim of the group is in line with the Slovakian position of entirely supporting the improvement of the security at the borders to control the influx of illegal immigrants (Nugent 2017: 325).
The position of Slovakia on this issue is becoming more restrained since 2016 (Geddes and Scholten 2016: 111). It has been encouraging several programs, which seem to support the action towards promotion of the welfare of refugees, an example being their last year’s spring stance. The image of Visegrad group seems to be unfavorable to Slovakia and they are taking the decision of distancing themselves with this group for the enhancement of its relationship with the EU, also employing its Council presidency at the union for these reasons (Globsec 2017). There are various steps which have been put in place, which includes providing scholarships and spots for relocation to the refugees, sending some personnel to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) (Globsec 2017). These approaches have, however, been taken at the least engagement level. The country is doing this to gain some points in the union level while still trying to maintain a low profile on the crisis at the national level to avoid feeling the wrath of the nationalist and populist parties which have some significant influence at home (Geddes and Scholten 2016: 111; Nugent 2017: 325).
3.3 A diplomatic Statement on the Country’s Negotiating Position
Since Slovakia entered the European Union and the eurozone, it has been a loyal member who respects the decisions of either of these groups (Auer 2014: 118). However, it reaches a point where the representatives have to balance between the needs of the citizens and that of the union. Unarguably, for Slovakia the interests of the citizens come first, and this is why Slovakia has to reject some of the decisions made by the union, for example, the choice to bail out Greece out of its financial crisis (Globsec 2017). Slovakia perceives migration crisis as a set of mistakes other countries have made and does not feel the responsibility to maintain migration crisis management on the level that the EU requires. Concerning migration, Slovakia will continue protecting its borders to potentially prevent entry of members of the terrorist groups into the country. Slovakia will assist the already existing refugees in the country but will not accept more especially from other countries who have left their borders open for the entry of anyone in the name of seeking asylum (Globsec 2017; Geddes and Scholten 2016: 140). Aiding the states like Syria in ending the war will be a priority to reduce the number of people running away from their countries.
In the simulation, Slovakia succeeded in defending its stance on the two agendas; migration and economic crisis. It was able to form a coalition with Hungary, its longtime close partner because they were against the bailout scheme for Greece by the union. Slovakia pressed that Greece should take full responsibility for the mismanagement of the funds previously given to them and deal with their issues without engaging other members of the union. Although there was no conclusion arrived on the issue, Greece was allowed to continue being a member as the leaders put more emphasis on uniting the whole continent. With reference to various countries that have been able to manage their financial crisis without necessarily involving other countries, the anti-bailout group was able to justify their claim. On the other hand, the position of Slovakia concerning the migration crisis is similar to that of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Estonia. All these states are against the quotas suggested by the EU because they allegedly lack the sufficient resources and similarities in culture. Similarly, to the case of the economic crisis, there was no consensus about what to do with the immigrants because the issue is divisive. Some countries are all-in to help the refugees while others feel that they should not be in the European Union in the first place.
Word count: 2589
Amadeo, K. (2018), ‘Understand the Greek Debt Crisis in 5 Minutes’. Available at https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-greece-debt-crisis-3305525.
BBC (2018), ‘Greek debt crisis: Where do other eurozone countries stand?’. Available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33408466.
Brady, H. (2008), ‘EU migration policy: An AZ’. London: Centre for European reform.
Burčík, M. and Krbatová, L. (2018). Peter Pellegrini to become new prime minister. Who is he? Available at https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20781853/pellegrini-new-prime-minister-slovakia.html.
Ellyatt, H. (2018), ‘Europe remains as divided as ever over ‘almost impossible to solve’ migration crisis’. Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/25/europe-divided-overalmostimpossible-to-solve-migration-crisis.html.
European Commission (2010), ‘Eurostat Report on Greek Government Deficit and Debt Statistics’. Available at http://c.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/4187653/6404656/COM_2010_report_greek/c8523cfa-d3c1-4954-8ea1-64bb11e59b3a.
European Parliament (2017), ‘Secondary movements of asylum- seekers in the EU asylum system’. Available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/608728/EPRS_BRI(2017)608728_EN.pdf.
European Union (2018), ‘Slovakia’. Available at https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries/member-countries/slovakia_en.
Eurostat (2018), ‘Asylum Statistics’. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics.
Foy, G. (2015), ‘Slovakia rules out further financial aid for Greece’. Available at https://www.ft.com/content/692bfc12-b831-11e4-86bb-00144feab7de.
Globsec, M. (2017), ‘Migration politics in Slovakia: Balancing domestic and EU-level goals’. Available at https://www.globsec.org/publications/migration-politics-slovakia-balancing-domestic-eu-level-goals/.
Jancarikova, T. (2018), ‘Reshuffled Slovak Cabinet Takes Office, Easing Crisis After Journalist’s Murder’. Available at https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-03-22/slovak-president-appoints-peter-pellegrini-as-new-prime-minister.
McFadyen, S. (2017), ‘Greek debt crisis: EU discord INTENSIFIES as Slovakia joins Germany to QUASH easy bailout’. Available at https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/802959/Greek-debt-crisis-EU-Slovakia-Germany-bailout.
Montgomery, J. (2018), ‘Slovakia Backs Hungary on Migrant Crisis: ‘We Are Not Prepared to Suffer for the Mistakes of Others.’ Available at https://www.breitbart.com/london/2018/06/29/slovakia-backs-hungary-migrant-crisis-not-prepared-suffer-mistakes-others/.
Robert, A. (2015), ‘Holland attacks Slovakia, Hungary over response to refugee crisis’. Available at: https://www.euractiv.com/section/central-europe/news/hollande-attacks-slovakia-hungary-over-response-to-refugee-crisis/.
Slovak Spectator (2018), ‘Slovakia Will Support Further European Integration’. Available at: https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20735437/slovakia-will-support-further-european-integration.html.
Spencer, R. (2018). ‘Slovakia on Muslim migrant influx: “We are not prepared to suffer the consequences of the mistakes of others.”’ Available at https://www.jihadwatch.org/2018/07/slovakia-on-muslim-migrant-influx-we-are-not-prepared-to-suffer-the-consequences-of-the-mistakes-of-others.
Xinhua. (2018), ‘Robert Fico appointed for third time as Slovak PM.’ Available at http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-03/24/c_135217449.htm.
Auer, S. (2014), ‘The limits of transnational solidarity and the Eurozone crisis in Germany, Ireland and Slovakia’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 15(3): 322-334.
Brekke, J.P. and Brochmann, G. (2015), ‘Stuck in transit: secondary migration of asylum seekers in Europe, national differences, and the Dublin regulation’, Journal of Refugee Studies, 28(2): 145-162.
Dąborowski, T. (2009), Slovakia’s economic success and the global crisis. Centre for Eastern Studies.
Geddes, A. and Scholten, P. (2016), The politics of migration and immigration in Europe. Sage.
Missiroli, A. (2004), ‘Central Europe between the EU and NATO’, Survival, 46(4): 121-136.
Nugent, N. (2017), The government and politics of the European Union. Palgrave.
Rabie, M. (2018), The Global Debt Crisis and Its Socioeconomic Implications. Springer.
Tomann, H. (2017), The Burden of Public Debt and the European Stability Mechanism: In Monetary Integration in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan.
Trauner, F. (2016), ‘Asylum policy: the EU’s ‘crises’ and the looming policy regime failure’, Journal of European Integration, 38(3): 311-325.
Wunderlich, D. (2013), ‘Implementing EU external migration policy: Security-driven by default?’, Comparative European Politics, 11(4): 406-427.
TO GET THIS OR ANY OTHER ASSIGNMENT DONE FOR YOU FROM SCRATCH, PLACE A NEW ORDER HERE