Press Advisories

22. 1. 2016 17:53

Prime Ministers Sobotka and Cameron meet to discuss the UK’s reform proposals, the handling of the migration crisis and the fight against IS

On Friday 22 January 2016, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met UK Prime Minister David Cameron at Straka Academy.
On Friday 22 January 2016, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met UK Prime Minister David Cameron at Straka Academy.
On Friday 22 January 2016, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met UK Prime Minister David Cameron at Straka Academy.

The UK’s EU reform proposals were central to their discussions. The prime ministers also went over the two countries’ cooperation in trade, investment and security.

Prime Minister Sobotka assured his UK counterpart that the Czech Government was duly considering the British proposals for EU reform and was poised to endorse those demands that would benefit the European Union as a whole.

The Czech Government applauds those UK initiatives that boost competitiveness and focus on intensifying the single internal market. The Czech Republic also backs demands for the equal status of Member States. In its decision-making, the EU should take into account those countries outside the euro area because its choices affect all 28 Member States.

For the Czech Republic and other Visegrad Group countries, the proposals touching on the free movement of persons are the most problem-ridden. Historical experience tells us that interference with one of the EU’s most fundamental cornerstones would be a bridge too far. Information emerging in recent weeks gives the Czech Republic hope that a compromise can be found on this issue of such sensitivity for us. The most appealing alternative for the Czech Republic is the “emergency brake” mechanism.

The PMs also discussed the reimbursement of unemployment benefits, an area in which the Czech Republic and the UK hold divergent views on the payment system. They agreed on further expert consultation here.

Today’s meeting also covered the handling of the migration crisis and the common fight against Islamic State. Bohuslav Sobotka and David Cameron concurred on the importance of reinforcing the protection of external borders and implementing measures under an action plan with Turkey.

The Czech Republic and the UK also stand ready to help Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Joint meetings between the prime ministers

Prime Minister Sobotka and UK PM David Cameron have regularly encountered each other. Their most recent bilateral meeting was last June in Bratislava, on the fringes of the Globsec security conference. In December, they held a telephone call on topical European issues, and Prime Minister Cameron was also involved in the regular coordination of V4 countries ahead of the December European Council. UK PM Cameron was in the Czech Republic for the first time in more than four years after accepting an invitation from Prime Minister Sobotka.

Both countries have also long been nurturing military cooperation. Since 2000, the British Military Advisory Training Team for Central and Eastern Europe (BMATT) has been operating from Vyškov. BMATT’s main task is to assist the development of the armies of allied and partner countries. Courses are attended by representatives of NATO and EU countries, parties to the Partnership for Peace, as well as Afghanistan, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Last year, the Czech Government rubberstamped BMATT’s continued presence for another five years, taking it up to 2020.

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