Daily Archives: May 23, 2013

Bratusek: "Slovenia can on its own without any supervision resolve its problems.”

Amid all the talk that Spain, France and the Netherlands will get waivers next week on tough EU budget rules, allowing them to breach yet again Brussels-mandated deficit ceilings, there are growing signals that one country may not get let off: Slovenia.

Although Slovenia has budget deficit problems similar to its western European counterparts, Brussels’ real concern is about its banking sector, which needs another infusion of taxpayer money to return it to health as non-performing loans continue to rise. Questions about the stability of its three largest banks, all state owned, has put a target on the small former Yugoslav republic as potentially the next eurozone country to need a bailout.

As a result, Slovenia’s demarche from EU economics chief Olli Rehn on Wednesday is likely to come from a place outside the eurozone’s budget deficit rules: new post-crisis enforcement powers Rehn has never used before, the awkwardly named “excessive imbalance procedure”. This authority allows the European Commission to poke around more deeply into a eurozone country’s entire economy – not just government fiscal policy – and demand reforms under threat of swingeing fines.

Alenka Bratusek, Slovenia’s recently-minted prime minister, isn’t too pleased with the prospect of being the first eurozone country to be subject to the EIP. In a meeting with a small group of reporters after Wednesday’s EU summit, Bratusek said officials in Brussels seem to think an EIP citation would help her. She says it won’t. 

Late last week, blogs and Twitter accounts belonging to the Financial Times became the latest news outlets to be attacked by hackers claiming to be part of the so-called Syrian Electronic Army, a band loyal to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Since then, the FT has been forced to lock down both this blog and its associated Twitter account, @FTBrussels.

As editors in London get on top of the problem, we are gradually reopening our blogs and official Twitter accounts. So while the hiatus here at the Brussels Blog is finally coming to an end, security restrictions remain, meaning our blogging may be less frequent for a few more days. But please have patience – we should be back at full strength shortly.