Press Advisories

19. 6. 2018 22:00

Speech of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at Prague European Summit

On June 19, 2018, the Prime Minister attended the Prague European Summit at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague. He spoke at the EU panel: Ever closer to the citizens?

Ladies and gentleman,

Thank you very much for a privilege to open this conference.

European Union is facing many crises and challenges simultaneously and on many fronts. In some respects situation is quite critical.

The biggest EU problem still remains illegal migration. Even though the tide of illegal migrants is lower than during the peak of the crises, EU still does not know if its goal is to prevent illegal migration or send to Europe everyone, who jumps to a boat few meters from an African coast. There are still some countries, which do not give up the idea of mandatory redistribution of migrants, there are still many, who do not realize, that first and foremost goal is to protect the outer borders of European area. This is the responsibility of border countries of Southern Europe, the rest of Europe should contribute financially.

We need to be able to defend ourselves on our external European borders, especially the sea borders

Frontex should help to fight illegal smugglers and others, who profit from illegal migration. It should help to destroy these mafia rings. Those who have a right for asylum, should wait out of the EU for the solution of their particular cases. There are still huge differences in views on migration, tolerance of illegal migration creates political divisions among EU countries and within EU countries. These divisions and differences lead to a rise of nationalism and political extremism. Recent disputes over migration in Germany leads to proposals of closing borders and renewal of border controls, which is unacceptable for us. Success of our economies is hugely dependent on smooth functioning of Schengen system of open borders.

The EU wasn’t able to solve the problems that are of concern to it. Whether it’s in the Middle East or elsewhere in our neighbourhood, other world powers make the decisions. It’s Europe, though, that bears the consequences, lately especially in form of the waves of migration.

We should have already long ago been sitting with the great powers and should have been dealing with the peace process in Syria. To create a Marshall plan for Syria. How come that we don’t have any tools of this kind of diplomacy?

Czech Republic wants to be active in finding solutions, we are ready to contribute logistically and financially, we are strongly supporting proper protection of EU outer borders and hotspots for asylum seekers out of EU territory.

There is a talk about the need for further integration of the EU, but our opinion is, that EU should first finish and deepen four basic freedoms. Which stood at the core of the project. Freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and labour. We are unfortunately witnessing some tendencies to disintegrate the single market. This is for instance the case of EU legislation, which concerns posted workers. Idea of the same wage at the same place is in opposition to the principles of single market and we refuse it.

The internal market was introduced by Commission President Jaques Delors already thirty years ago, in 1987. It is still not completed.

Thus I would like the new Commission president to come up with an actual action plan for the internal market. The EU must first and foremost focus on the completion of the internal market in all areas.

A lot of attentions has lately been paid to the future of the Eurozone. We are still short of consensus on how to reform it. There’s a clear division between the northern countries who want strict rules and penalties and the southern countries who call for more redistribution and fiscal and financial solidarity.

We have never said that we don’t intend to join the Eurozone. We can and we will discuss our membership once it deals with its legacy issues, its over-indebtedness and stabilizes its public finances and once it’s clear how it will evolve in the future.

Our interest is stable, strong and secure Union. And within it the Czech Republic must act actively and coherently.

Last but not least, the topic that arises from all already mentioned, is the budget proposal for the next MFF. I would like to stress, that changing and challenging world needs customary and flexible solutions. In order to deliver them, we need tools enabling them. The Union’s budget will lack resources due to Brexit, and therefore the Union's priorities will need better targeted funding, especially when related to border control and security.

Czech Republic strongly recommends, that the next MFF leaves more decision making tools within the shared management to the Members states together with flexibility mechanisms allowing the Member states tackle the priorities where needed or desired. The Member states are able efficiently follow the needs of its citizens, prepare customary solitons taking account of all other national actions, thus creating higher added value and synergies. The budget should be more flexible and allow higher transfers between headings, while respecting the aims to be accomplished, by the means that are the most efficient in each Member States. The same goals can be achieved through different approaches using different types of funding in different time. We would like the budget of the next MFF to respect that, allowing the Member states to use the EU funding in a flexible way to secure the highest added value possible while respecting the core needs of its citizens.

Today, the EU is without any doubt an economic and political framework for the Czech Republic. Czech citizens and not only Czech citizens have clear expectations: that the EU will be as open as possible and without barriers inside.

At the same time they expect that the EU will be strong on the outside; that we’ll manage to protect ourselves against the security threats that spring up like mushrooms at our common European borders. And that we’ll be able to solve the problems that concern us.

The basis of the changes that are currently being discussed in Europe should be an open dialogue with citizens.

In the past couple of years we’ve been witnessing the crisis of the public trust across the whole Europe. The Euroscepticism is still relatively high in some Member States, including in the Czech Republic.

The results of the recent Eurobarometer survey indicate that the situation is slowly improving and citizens are again increasingly optimistic about the future of Europe.

Thus it’s the more so important to discuss the future with them. The EU belongs to its citizens, it influences the life of us all on a daily basis.

Opinions, attitudes as well as concerns of our citizens must be then taken into account in decision-making on European level.

We shall not allow for the proposals that the citizens strongly disagree with to be adopted, even if it’ll be citizens from a single Member State.

Lately, searching for power solutions on the EU level has become regular and it’s a crucial problem for the future. Important decisions for the future of the EU cannot be taken by power outvoting that we saw in the case of quotas.

The motto of the EU is „United in diversity“. In my view, this diversity lies in the wide range of opinions and cultural differences that become especially apparent in some areas. To unite the European nations in these areas takes time.

Only by involving our citizens in the making of the future we can increase their support and trust in the European Union and thereby bring it closer to them.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your kind attention.

Allow me to wish you three successful days, I believe they will be filled with inspiring debates and I’m looking forward to seeing their results.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

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