The last EU summit brought us many things, a demonstrated unwillingness of 27 states to meet the British PM half way is one of them, a small German compromise to France on its crusade towards a common eurozone budget is another. However, one more ‘common’ thing didn’t go through and reformists have failed to homologate the asylum law for the whole EU and strengthen Frontex, which goes hand-in-hand with it.
All this apparently prompted the Belgian leader Charles Michel to threaten Visegrad countries. However, his threats make no sense, just as the Schengen area without an external border protection, i.e. without the V4. PM Michel has been a strong proponent of an open border policy, and last week, his government felt compelled to react due to that very reason. The strongest coalition party has kept its threat and left because it opposes the UN migration pact that Belgium decided to sign.
However, by saying that ‘By stubbornly, repeatedly, systematically refusing to show a minimum of solidarity, these (Visegrad) countries automatically open the political debate about the Schengen area, they in fact open the question of their own place in the Schengen area,’ Michel said.
In fact, his statement makes no or even negative sense once you peel off the political tactics. Schengen is, without any irony, a great tangible achievement of European integration. But only if the external border of the EU is secured. Something that all Visegrad countries have been aiming for over the past three years. If not in practice like Hungary, then verbally for sure. The case of the V4 and particularly Hungary, rejecting a stronger Frontex is based on a fear of a weakened sovereignty rather than anything else.
So, what exactly did Michel try to achieve with his threat? Michel just wanted to distract attention from the congenital defect of the EU by pointing the finger at the V4. He also tried to remind subsidies’ recipients in the East that they should (politically) obey. The system of subsidies is wrong and warped, yet its purpose is to compensate to the post-Communist countries for their past.
Let’s take the CSOB bank, which has been extremely profitable for its Belgian owner the KBC group, as an example. Due to a lack of domestic capital, foreign banks were able to buy Czech banks below cost. In a country with a significant capital outflow, it won’t take much more arrogant performances like Michel’s to call for a bank tax.
Michel’s father as a Foreign Minister eagerly promoted diplomatic sanctions against Austria in 1999/2000. You can guess why Austria had gradually alienated itself from the European core.