Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his counterparts from the Visegrad Four met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, discussing topics such as the coronavirus pandemic, migration, and budget.
Before Andrej Babiš left for Brussels on Thursday morning, he had told journalists that his priority is to discuss the new migration pact on redistribution of refugees presented by the European Commission on Wednesday.
The Visegrad Four wants the Union to put more emphasis on the fight against people smugglers.
When talking about the topic of migration, representatives also discussed the so-called hotspots and legal status of migrants.
Although the Czech Republic is in general against accepting migrants Babiš said he appreciated that the new EU proposal does not include mandatory quotas on the redistribution of refugees. He also confirmed that the Czech Republic would continue to contribute financially to resolving the migration crisis. For example, he pointed out the Czech involvement in projects to actively stop migration in Morocco and Libya.
After talks with von der Leyen, Babiš said that the V4 officials and the European Commission president also discussed the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic and an order for a potential vaccine. Babiš further called for epidemiologists to communicate better within the EU, especially regarding the hospitalization and treatment of those infected.
At the meeting with von der Leyen,Babiš also planned to discuss the new climate target for 2030, which was proposed by the European Commission last week and wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 55 percent compared to 1990. Babiš, as well as Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček, earlier called such a goal unrealistic for Czechia.
The V4 prime ministers and Ursula von der Leyen further talked about the EU budget and the so-called European Recovery Plan.
As Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič could not attend the meeting, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki represented him in the talks.
Title image: From left, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban follow behind European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Sept 24, 2020. (Francois Lenoir, Pool via AP)