British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Prague on Thursday for a brief working visit. Mr Cameron met with the Czech head of government, Petr Nečas, to discuss their countries’ positions on a planned new bailout for Greece, ahead of a key EU summit in Brussels. Both leaders agreed that the planned rescue package should be put together by members of the eurozone, rather than the whole of the EU.
David Cameron is the first British prime minister to visit the Czech Republic since 2006. This time, the brief visit was dominated by an EU agenda where the Czech Republic and the UK have similar views on a number of issues, as Mr Cameron pointed out.
“I think we are both practical Europeans; we want to be in the EU because we know that’s right for our countries but we want to make sure that Europe is not always extending its regulations, its reach and its laws, but it’s concentrating on practical things that will make a difference.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the Czech and British prime ministers coordinated their countries’ policies for the upcoming EU summit in Brussels that should determine who exactly should pay for a massive new bailout for Greece.
Neither the Czech Republic nor the UK are members of the eurozone and the prime ministers made it clear once again on Thursday that the bailout should be put together by those who have the single European currency. Prime Minister Petr Nečas.
“Neither of our two countries agrees with the ideas that the new Greek bailout should come from the European Financial Stability Mechanism; we rather believe it should involve the European Financial Stability Facility.”
While the European Financial Stability Mechanism includes all 27 member states of the European Union, the tool known as the European Financial Stability Facility was created by the eurozone to help its debt-laden members.
The EU summit held in Brussels on Thursday and Friday will therefore determine whether a second bailout of Greece will be paid for by all EU member states, or just by those who use the euro. However, as Czech officials repeatedly pointed out, the “coalition of the not willing”, including the UK, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and some others, could easily be outvoted at the EU summit. When asked whether he had a strategy to prevent that, British Prime Minister David Cameron said German officials promised him that any solution will be based on a broad agreement.
“We have contributed: in the case of Ireland and Portugal, we made bilateral loans. But this is a different situation, a different country, and I don’t believe the EFSM is appropriate, and we have support for this from many other countries. Also, I have received assurances from other countries including Germany, that this won’t be the case.”
The Czech and British prime ministers also talked about several other issues including migration, the situation in Libya and Syria, as well as cooperation between their two countries. The officials will also visit a joint Czech-British ELI laser project at the Czech Academy of Sciences before heading to Brussels later on Thursday.