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Slovakian report Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2015-10-29 10:23:24
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Slovakia Approves NATO 'Small' Headquarters in the Country

The government of Slovakia approved on Wednesday the presence of a NATO 'small' headquarters in the country, local media reported. Defense ministers of NATO member countries agreed to establish so-called small headquarters in Hungary and Slovakia at the meeting in Brussels on October 8.

The Defense Ministry of Slovakia said shortly after that the small headquarters would supplement currently operating NATO infrastructure and would not be expanded into an actual military base. According to the Slovak Teraz news portal, the country's National Council is due to agree to the measure.

The Slovak NATO small headquarters team will consist of 41 people, including 21 members of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, the media outlet reported. The remaining staff is due to come from other NATO countries. The task of the small headquarters will be to facilitate NATO rapid deployment units and coordinate exercises between the Slovak army and NATO.

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Net incomes in Slovakia record robust growth

While the net incomes of Slovaks are a far cry from the European Union average, over the past five years Slovakia has recorded the EU’s second highest rise in incomes. However, when the prices of goods and services among individual countries are considered, the gap between Slovakia and the EU shrinks, the TASR newswire cited an analysis by UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia. The incomes of Slovaks have increased by close to one-fourth over the past five years, or by an average of 4.5 percent a year. Only Poland fared better in this respect.

slovakia_400_01“Apart from the rise in salaries, this was contributed to by the falling unemployment rate and the falling number of people on welfare benefits,” reads the analysis. When the entire EU is considered, the median income has risen by 7 percent over the aforementioned period. Greeks, for instance, saw their incomes shrink by almost one third over the last five years. Declines in incomes, albeit to a lesser extent, were also recorded in other crisis-hit countries, including Cyprus, Spain, Slovenia, as well as non-EU-member country Iceland. People in the Netherlands have also had to make do with lower incomes. Norwegians had the highest net incomes with a median amount of €3,576 a month. Next came (non-EU) Switzerland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

“Half the people in the EU have net earnings of at least €1,449 a month,” reads the analysis. “The lowest incomes are in central and eastern Europe.” Slovenia topped the list in central and eastern Europe (CEE) with a median net income of €992, followed by Czechs (€635) and Slovaks (€567). However, when the prices of goods and services in the individual countries are concerned, the disparity decreases somewhat. As a result, when it comes to price-level-adjusted net incomes – or purchasing power parity – Slovakia is now at two-thirds of the EU average.

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Slovakia to challenge Brussels in court over migrant quotas

Slovakia plans to take Brussels to court over a controversial EU plan to share 120,000 asylum seekers, in the latest challenge to a deeply divisive proposal that has shattered European solidarity over the migrant crisis. Bratislava will file a case at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, by mid-December arguing that the proposals breach EU rules, according to a spokesman for the Slovak justice ministry. Slovakia, a staunch opponent of quotas to share out migrants, was one of four countries to oppose the plan, which was passed after a majority vote by the European Council, which comprises the heads of the 28 member states. The move to force the council vote came after weeks of negotiations failed to result in a compromise upon which all member states could agree. Of the four countries to oppose the scheme, the Czech Republic and Romania have ruled out legal action, while Hungary is still considering it.

If Slovakia presses on with its legal case, its chances of success are thin, according to Brussels officials. Although it is rare for countries to be outvoted on controversial matters, it is perfectly legal to do so under EU rules. A spokesman for the commission said: “It is of course a member state prerogative to challenge Council decisions before the Court. As long as court proceedings are ongoing, member states still have to comply with the law.” Similar attempts to challenge EU decisions in this way have failed, including the recent attempt by the UK to scupper new rules limiting banker bonuses. A Slovak ministry of justice official said: “They cannot make this kind of decision based on a majority. It’s illegal and we will fight it. We will not accept the Council’s decision”. Slovakia is expected to base its case around the notion that council decisions such as the one taken on migrant quotas are only allowed to bypass normal legislative procedure if the issue is urgent and temporary.

Bratislava will argue that because normal legislative procedures were not attempted, the issue cannot be considered urgent enough to push it through the council, and that the measure is not temporary as it covers a two-year period of migrant sharing. Officials from across Europe will meet this week in Brussels to discuss details of the migrant sharing plan. Under the plan, a total of 160,000 — which includes a smaller scheme to relocate 40,000 people agreed earlier this summer — will be redistributed from Italy and Greece across the rest of the EU. Yet despite months of argument over the proposals, details of the scheme — ranging from how to process people arriving to deciding where they are sent — are yet to be finalised. Privately, EU officials admit that there is little they can do if a country refuses to accept its quota beyond launching standard infringement proceedings, which take years to resolve. Speaking at a press conference in Bratislava, Robert Fico, Slovakian prime minister, said there was no way to force a country to take its quota against its wishes. “We disagree with mandatory quotas and we formalised that opinion today,” Mr Fico told reporters. Slovakia is required to take 802 asylum seekers under the scheme, with those sent most likely to come from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq.

 


        
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