Press Advisories

19. 6. 2017 23:11

The prime ministers of V4 and Benelux countries discussed the future of the EU, the internal market and the defence policy

Family foto předsedů vlád zemí V4 a Beneluxu, 19. června 2017.
Business lunch of the prime ministers of V4 and Benelux countries, 19 June 2017.
On Monday, 19 June 2017, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka attended the summit of the premiers of the Visegrad Group and the Benelux countries in Warsaw. The main topics discussed were the future of the European Union, Brexit, the internal market and the free movement of persons and migration. The prime ministers also discussed the common security and defence policy, the Eastern Partnership and the relations with Russia.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydl, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán agreed with the prime ministers of the Benelux countries to strengthen mutual cooperation, including specific areas, such as economy, science and research, education or culture.

As far as the future of the European Union is concerned, the prime ministers of V4, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, and Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, consider the preservation and strengthening of unity and cohesion to be important. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that it remains a priority for the Czech Republic to ensure that further integration engages to the maximum extent all the 27 member states and that it does not lead to division into the core and a periphery. The Union's main tasks should be to guarantee the security of its citizens and to guarantee economic and wage convergences.

"At the V4 and Benelux meeting, I talked about the great differences in wages and living standards between our countries. It needs to be changed. I have also communicated our reservations about the migration quotas. EU countries must have the possibility to choose how they will help with the migration. And I have unambiguously supported the closer cooperation of Europe in defence and security issues," said Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

According to the premiers of V4 and Benelux countries, all EU states should also act as a single body in the negotiation of the UK's exit from the EU. The Czech Republic will be primarily enforcing the rights of Czechs living and working in Britain.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka also discussed with the other prime ministers the internal market and the free movement of persons. In his opinion, the very internal market is the main economic growth driver of the EU as a whole and one of the key preconditions for its socio-economic development, convergence and stability. The EU should therefore focus on removing barriers in the internal market, including wage differences.

Another topic was the EU common security and defence policy, where Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka informed the partners about the course of the Prague Conference on Defence and Security. According to him, it is now important to establish a European Defence Fund as well as Permanent Structured Cooperation.

The prime ministers of the Visegrad Group and the Benelux countries also discussed the Eastern Partnership, in particular the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels this November. They also talked about relations with Russia and monitoring Russian activities in Eastern Europe. One of the issues was the question of migration. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka reminded there again that it is necessary to focus on addressing real causes, including protection of the EU's external borders, cooperation with third countries and making return policies more effective.

Today's summit is also the final meeting under the baton of the Polish presidency in V4. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary will therefore meet once again at the Royal Castle in Warsaw to discuss the priorities of Hungary, which assumes the presidency of the Visegrad Group on 1 July 2017.

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