Speeches

25. 1. 2018 19:23

Speech by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the Davos World Economic Forum

Speech by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the Davos World Economic Forum, 25 January 2018

We have been talking about the future of the EU, but I am afraid that we keep forgetting why the EU was actually founded. Its key purpose has always been to guarantee peace and prosperity to European citizens.

Lately, we have been pushing forward further integration without knowing where we want to go and why.

If we want to build a strong Europe, we must be patient. Hasty decisions will be a risk rather than an asset for the EU. Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

We need to make sure that our citizens know where Europe is heading. And we need to convince them to subscribe to that direction. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is going on right now. Therefore, I welcome Emmanuel’s proposal for citizens’ consultations. We should be discussing with our citizens on permanent basis. The Czech Republic has a sound record of citizens’ and social dialogue. We will build on this.

However, the EU cannot develop stable channels of communication with EU citizens without their Member States. It is impossible for the EU to have legitimacy without the Member States. That is the reality. The so-called Spitzenkandidaten process proved this. Projects like this one usually lead rather to the opposite of what they are intended for. The citizens don’t understand why the Commission started to act in a political way. Why it ceased to be the impartial arbiter that helps to create room for compromises. That is why projects like spitzenkandidaten make the EU more distant from the people, deepen the infamous democratic deficit and disrupt the institutional balance.

We need a Europe that is strong and united. We should focus on preserving and further developing what we have already achieved. Let’s consolidate and build on what we have.

Let’s deepen the internal market with its four freedoms as the main driver for prosperity in Europe. Let’s enhance our competitiveness in the digital era. Let’s guarantee security by defending our external borders, by defending our citizens in their countries and our common interests in the world. Let’s tackle conflicts in our neighbourhood before they turn into a threat to the security of our citizens.

Lately, instead of presenting and strengthening our position in the world, we have been bickering over trifles.Migration quotas have been dividing the Member States for two years now. If all the Member States accepted all the migrants allocated by the quotas, it would solve only 2 percent of the migratory pressure. For the 2 percent we are putting the future of the European project in doubt. That is insane!

Nobody wants to block reasonable solutions for Europe. We should avoid the repetition of the empty chair crisis of the sixties. That is not in anybody’s interest. The Luxembourg compromise of 1966 was a reasonable reaction to a sensitive moment in the history of the European integration. Unless we want to break it, proposals touching the most important interests of the Member States must be decided unanimously at the prime ministers level.

We need to define clear strategy and be able to follow it. This will enable us to be focused and efficient. Exactly for such a purpose the European Council was built according the Lisbon Treaty. Let’s use it fully!

Let’s not waste time with trifles. Our global partners and competitors will not wait for us. Let’s be more united and globally stronger.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

 

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