The first of the several top jobs in the EU to be decided upon by 2019 has been assigned to the Portuguese finance minister Mario Centeno. There is undoubtedly certain disappointment in the Slovak government as well as in the public that the Slovak finance minister Peter Kazimir did not get the job. The Slovak minister was one of the favourites for the position—coming from a center-left, just like Mario Centeno. While this seems to be a second blow to the European ambitions of Slovakia, after the European Medicines Agency has relocated to Amsterdam, the pro-European choice will be the right one for Slovakia.
Slovakia has turned from Eurosceptical rhetoric from just 2 years ago to an active defender of the European project. During and after the Council Presidency, the Slovak government has positioned itself as a willing participant in European reforms and a proud member of the Eurozone and Schengen. It will be a long battle to secure top positions and the European agenda can most likely be only marginally influenced by Slovakia. What is important, however, is Slovakia’s participation at the negotiation table. Let’s be honest- in the equal standing of the member states there are some that are more equal than others. This should not be a reason to retreat into a mode of complaining or use this as an excuse to stop pro-European engagement. Slovakia is on the right path. Multilateralism in the international arena and engagement on the European level will bring more benefits and a better chance for the country to defend its interests than any form of isolation.
Yes, it is disappointing to have high hopes blown away. Nevertheless, certain lessons can be learned from this. On the national level, Slovakia can be made a more attractive destination not only for expats but also for young Slovaks. In addition, Slovakia can be made a more noticeable player and to lead by example in Central Europe. Short-term disappointment should not trigger anti-European surge. On the contrary, it should be a motivator for future improvement.