The recently appointed first president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, visited Prague on Friday. His first stop was the Office of the Government, where he held talks with the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer. The meeting was dominated by economic issues, though the two men also discussed climate change and the situation in Haiti.
On the last stop of his tour through all 27 member states of the European Union, newly elected EU President Herman Van Rompuy met with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer at lunchtime on Friday.
“Prime Minister Fischer and I have just had a very interesting discussion and we will continue the discussion also with the delegation of the Czech Republic government. We talked about the urgent issues on the agenda, economic security and taking the international climate change negotiation forward.”
Both Mr. Van Rompuy and Mr. Fischer emphasized that the EU needed to go beyond bureaucratic methods in tackling economic issues and the impacts of the financial crisis. The latter stressed that communication was key to developing sound policies.
“We discussed planned European Union economic strategy until the year 2020. We agreed that work on preparing that document needs to be organized in such a way that it is accompanied by a very intensive debate at the highest level. It should be a deep debate about content, rather than some articles being decided by officials in corridors in Brussels, leaving us to debate only individual paragraphs.”
EU leaders will discuss this economic strategy at an informal meeting in mid-February, prior to an official spring summit the following month. Mr. Van Rompuy said that the EU needed to act if it wanted to preserve its social system.
“Europe has a unique social model, but let me be clear, if we want to preserve our European way of life, we need higher economic growth and more jobs in the Union, and we have to keep up with the other major economies in the world. I am convinced that we can do so provided that we recognize the magnitude of the challenge and are ready to take decisive action.”
Another point on Friday’s agenda was EU relief aid to Haiti. Mr. Van
Rompuy spoke of the magnitude of the crisis there and said there was a
strong need for the EU to help the disaster stricken country. Prior to
leaving Prague, the European president was also due to meet the Eurosceptic
Czech president Václav Klaus.