Commentary Migration

Babiš: Migration is a priority over next five years

Following a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, Czech PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) considers the strengthening of the Member States' influence on the use of EU subsidies and migration main priorities over the next five years.

Security, migration issues and the relationship between the European Council and the European Commission are, according to PM Babiš, EU strategic priorities for the next five years.

As the most important priority, the PM marked the strengthening of the Member States' influence on the use of EU subsidies. Donald Tusk, in his statement in the Czech language, did not respond to these priorities, but emphasized the ideas of Czech visionaries, including former President Václav Havel, about what Europe should be like.

Among the Czech priorities of the EU strategy, PM Babiš included the Schengen area, which guarantees the free movement of persons within the Union, or the need to take into account the specificities of individual countries in terms of energy development. One-third of Czech electricity production comes from nuclear power plants. "We also talked about the currently popular double quality of food," PM Babiš said after the meeting.

"From my point of view, the most important thing we are still struggling with is that we should have a much greater influence and, above all, we should decide what the money we receive from Europe will be used for," the PM said.

Donald Tusk recalled that "Václav Havel said that in Europe, freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. He accurately described what it means to be a European," adding that he wants to discuss these ideas at Thursday's summit of European leaders in Sibiu, Romania, which is to address EU priorities.

According to Tusk, the Czechs have always rejected inauthenticity and refused to follow doctrines and dogmas blindly. "They were always characterized by the ability to keep distance, a wise sense of humor and a healthy dose of skepticism," Tusk said.

Tusk has previously published a paper briefly describing his vision of the EU's strategic agenda for the years 2019 to 2024. In addition to promising the protection of external borders or reform of EU asylum policy, he mentioned a need for a faster transition to "green" energy or strengthening the monetary union.

At the end of April, the European Commission offered its own ideas, according to which the EU should focus on five priorities during the next five years. These are the emergence of a genuine security union and a move towards functional defense cooperation among the EU-27, increasing the EU's competitiveness, maintaining a socially just EU, combating climate change more effectively, and global strengthening of the Union's influence. The European Commission also wants to be more active in managing migration and promotes the sharing of responsibility and solidarity. The Member States, however, have different views on Tusk's ideas as well as the concept of the European Union regarding, for example, climate protection or future EU enlargement.

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