Czech Prime Minster Bohuslav Sobotka met with his Slovak and Austrian Counterparts, Christian Kern and Robert Fico, in Brno on Thursday. The main topic on their agenda was migration crisis and the European Union summit in Brussels, which gets underway on Thursday. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico suggested it would be more effective to discuss migration among smaller groups of EU member states, rather than in the whole of EU. The prime ministers have also discussed regional cooperation, education and the so-called Industry 0.4 Initiative, which involves the digitalisation of the manufacturing sector.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the heads of government of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Berlin on Monday to mark a quarter of a century since the signing of a milestone treaty on goodneighbourly relations. However the successes of past years were overshadowed by the challenges of the present: the migrant crisis, Brexit and the controversial German road toll.
Legal position of EU citizens in Britain and financial obligations of Great Britain towards EU countries will be among the V4 priorities in negotiations over Brexit, prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries agreed at a meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday. The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland repeatedly rejected the idea of cutting funds to countries that refuse to take migrants. The V4 prime ministers are also scheduled to take part in an international Innovators Summit being held in the Polish capital and sign a so-called “pact for innovation”.
EU leaders meet in Rome on Saturday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding Rome treaty and look forward to the future. That’s the theory, but the Czech Republic and other Central European countries have already put down warning markers over what they regard as moves towards a more multi-speed Europe.
During an informal summit in Versailles on Monday the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain expressed support for a multi-speed Europe which would allow some EU member states to press ahead with integration faster than others. Those in the “slow lane” would restrict themselves to participation in the single market and co-operation on foreign and security policy. I spoke to Vít Beneš from the Institute for International Relations about what a two-tier Europe would mean.
The Visegrad Four states have joined forces to address a common problem that has plagued them for years: a double standard in the quality of food products sold by supranational companies around the European Union. The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary have urged the European Commission to acknowledge the problem and take legal action.
The leaders of the Visegrad Four have issued a joint statement calling on the European Commission to take action to eliminate double standards in quality of food products sold by companies in Eastern Europe and in the West. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and leaders of Poland, Slovakia, and Hungry met in Warsaw on Thursday to make a joint motion on a problem that has plagued all four states for years now. The four leaders are angry that European producers are often selling lower quality foodstuffs under the same label in their countries compared with richer neighbours such as Germany and Austria. Czech Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka has commissioned a comparative survey in all four states and Austria which would reveal the extent of the problem.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has proposed that a European Commission representative attend the forthcoming planned Visegrad Four (V4) summit focussing on differences in food quality in stores in Western and Eastern Europe. Mr Sobotka explained in a press release that the Commission and EU agriculture minister could submit specific proposals aimed at finding a solution. Bureaux in Slovakia recently released the results of laboratory food tests, suggesting that supranational food firms often supplied products in Slovakia whose quality was lower under the same brands than in the neighbouring Austria. The V4 summit, initiated by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is to be held in Warsaw on Thursday.
Journalists from the Visegrad Group states, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, have expressed concern regarding media freedom in their respective countries. At a meeting in Prague, the editors-in-chief of leading dailies and weeklies in the region said politicians were trying to gain control of the public media, exert their influence and restrict media freedom. Gradually, we are seeing the independence of the media undermined by political and economic means, journalists said in a joint statement following their Prague meeting. They stressed the importance of media freedom for democracy in the region.
Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said he sees no perspective in the near term of Austria joining the Visegrad Four grouping, which comprised the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. In an interview with the Austrian paper Die Presse, he said it was already difficult sometimes to get agreement between the four. He added that the splitting of the EU is a great danger and that it would be difficult to imagine cooperation between France and Germany if Marine Le Pen won the French presidential elections.