Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s EU summit in Salzburg, the Czech and Slovak heads of government criticized the European Commission‘s plans to increase funding for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex. They argued that this amounts to duplicating European security structures and boosting an agency that has not proven very effective.
Czech politicians have missed Friday’s deadline on passing a controversial EU amendment to its directive on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. The unpopular amendment has met with wide criticism from gun owners across Europe, many of whom see it as too restrictive and even counterproductive.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said that to bring a halt to illegal migration a comprehensive action plan for the entire European Union is needed – and the Czech Republic is ready to prepare just such a proposal. To stem the tide, he has even floated the idea of the protection of EU borders being transferred to the Nato level.
At a meeting of Czech ambassadors in Prague on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš stressed the importance of being a reliable and active partner in the EU and NATO. At the same time the head of government defended the country’s stance on migration and its decision not to join the Eurozone in the foreseeable future.
The Czech Republic has rejected Italy’s request for EU members to share out some 450 asylum seekers rescued at sea. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Italy’s decision to admit more migrants went against the agreement reached at the last EU summit and stressed that Europe must send out a clear signal that its doors were closed to further asylum seekers.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has hailed the agreement on migration reached after nine hours of gruelling talks at an EU summit in Brussels as a huge success for the Visegrad Group’s common policy. The newly-appointed head of government, who has vehemently fought the idea of mandatory quotas, said the focus had shifted with the accent now on voluntary cooperation and the need to resolve the migrant crisis outside of Europe.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said that in order to stem the flow of economic migrants into the EU, the border protection agency Frontex needs a clear mandate allowing its agents to operate “outside of Europe”. In a statement to the European Commission on Monday, Babiš also said that Frontex needs “more than just a few boats” to do its job and therefore must be better funded.
The timing could hardly have been less inopportune. On the very day newly-reappointed Prime Minister Andrej Babiš took the oath of office at Prague Castle – in which he pledged to fight corruption in government and for “Czech national interests in the European Union” – in Brussels, the EU’s anti-fraud office released its annual report highlighting efforts to combat the very same kind of fraud Mr Babiš is himself accused of having orchestrated.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Monday sharply rejected the idea that the Czech Republic should pay some form of compensation for not accepting migrant quotas. In response to proposals floated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the weekend, Mr. Babiš said the Czech people and Czech firms themselves would decide who would live and work in this country.
The European Commission is due to unveil its long term proposal about how big EU funds should be, where they are directed, and which countries will turn out to be the biggest beneficiaries and paymasters. All indications are that dramatic changes are in the pipeline, something that the Czech Republic appears to have reservations about.