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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back in the USSR

At Open Europe, we tend to find comparisons between the EU and the USSR rather far-fetched. The reason is simple: not only does the EU, for all its many flaws, also stand for some positive things, such as open borders and free markets (although they could be freer), the EU is simply not a totalitarian dictatorship where people are controlled, tortured and all the rest (though reading through the acquis communautaire does come pretty close to torture at times).

Still it's the comparison that no-one less than Richard Sulik, the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament, hinted at yesterday, as he lashed out at the ongoing eurozone bailouts. DPA quotes him saying:
"This is like the Soviet Union. But we have never joined such a union. No one before our (EU) accession referendum ever told us that Slovakia should now pay billions upon billions for Greek pensions and Italian I-don't-know-what."
Regardless of whether such comparisons are appropriate, it surely says something about the anger brewing in some capitals regarding the blind faith in endless bailouts.

Given that Slovakia rescued its own most important state-owned banks without any foreign help a decade ago, an effort which cost the country 12 per cent of its gross domestic product, Mr. Sulik proabably reads the Slovak public mood quite well here.

In the coming months, every eurozone country will need to approve changes to the EFSF, the temporary bailout fund, which would not only broaden its powers but also increase its size. Sulik, who is the leader of the junior governing Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, has already said, "We will do everything we can in order for the parliament not to approve it."

This will be a long and winding road.

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