Press Advisories

16. 1. 2020 16:38

Representatives of the V4 countries met in Prague along with Austrian Chancellor Kurz and agreed on unacceptability of migration quotas

Representatives of the V4 countries met in Prague along with Austrian Chancellor Kurz , 16 January 2020.
Representatives of the V4 countries met in Prague along with Austrian Chancellor Kurz , 16 January 2020.
On Thursday 16 January 2020, a summit of the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz took place at the National Museum. Among the main topics of the talks were migration, the functioning of the EU, the multiannual financial framework, the EU climate, energy and trade policy, and the further enlargement and future of the European Union.

The meeting of prime ministers Andrej Babiš of the Czech Republic, Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Peter Pellegrini of Slovakia with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was organised by the Czech Republic as part of its presidency of the V4 group.

PM Babiš thanked Chancellor Kurz for accepting the invitation to visit the Czech Republic shortly after being appointed to the function. "Austria is a key partner of ours and we are glad Mr Chancellor is taking his first foreign trip to the Czech Republic. The V4 countries and Austria have much in common, including a shared history, and I think that together we can make certain things happen in Europe," said Andrej Babiš.

One of the main topics of the talks was migration. The heads of government agreed on the unacceptability of mandatory quotas and that it is first and foremost necessary to protect the border and that asylum and migration-policy reform must be based on a consensus of all EU Member States. "We all affirmed, and I think we all have the same opinion on it, that quotas are passé," said the Czech PM. He recalled the European Council meeting in June 2018, which rejected the quota system. "We said that reform of the migration system must be based on the consent of all Member States, that no one can be outvoted. The new Commission will of course come up with some new proposal, but our position is the same: we must deal with migration systematically, we must prevent illegal migration. Smugglers can't decide who comes to Europe and we will decide who lives in our countries," remarked Andrej Babiš.

Another important topic of the talks was the future of Europe. Representatives of the V4 and Austria welcomed the initiative of the new European Commission to hold an open dialogue under the Conference on the Future of Europe. "I am convinced that the weight of the European Council should be even greater than in the past. And that's nothing against the European Commission. On the contrary, we want to work with the new European Commission and naturally we want to help address Europe’s various problems," the Czech PM stated.

During the discussion on the new multiannual financial framework, the prime ministers agreed on the necessity for further negotiations leading to a compromise acceptable to all EU Member States. "I think we agree that it is necessary to talk about the costs of European administration as well. If the EU budget for 2018 was EUR 159 billion, the costs for Parliament ten billion for all structures, the next multiannual framework increase is twenty‑three percent and at the same time the UK (which is fifteen percent of the population) is leaving, then we should talk about that. We certainly see the possibility of saving money and discussing individual posts. We talked about whether we really need to put so much money into security when we're almost all members of NATO, where we have an obligation of two percent and other things," said Andrej Babiš.

Another topic of the joint meeting was enlargement of the European Union and the Schengen area to include the Western Balkans. "The European Union has to have some kind of strategy. We have to fulfil our commitments, having promised North Macedonia that we will begin accession talks. So let's hope that it works out this year," PM Babiš stated.

The topic of the working lunch was climate and energy policy, to which the new Austrian government has adopted a highly ambitious position. According to the Czech PM, every Member State must have the option of choosing its own path to a more sustainable economy. "Even though we have different opinions on certain things, that doesn't mean we don't want to look for a solution," said PM Babiš. He sees the perspective of maintaining the competitiveness of European industry as being important. "We must also figure out how we're going to force other countries to reduce emissions, because they are going in completely the opposite direction," the Czech Prime Minister added.

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