The Visegrád group of countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — are calling for dramatic reforms to the functioning of the European Union (EU) and its institutions.
The Visegrád group (V4) leaders produced a joint statement ahead of the summit of 27 EU Member States which the United Kingdom is not attending. Seeking to find unity among the remaining nations after the Brexit referendum result, EurActiv.com reports the group is calling for the creation of “a genuine Union of trust”.
The reformist statement from the four Prime Ministers of the V4 reads:
The genuine concerns of our citizens need to be better reflected. National parliaments have to be heard. The institutions of the European Union need to stick to their missions and mandates. Trust also needs to be fostered among member states, starting with overcoming the artificial and unnecessary dividing lines we have seen emerging in past few months.
Foreign ministers from the Czech Republic and of Poland had already assigned “responsibility” for last week’s referendum result to the EU institutions, and even called for the resignation of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Nevertheless, Bohuslav Sobotka — the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the country holding the rotating presidency of the V4 — made it clear the group is not pushing for President Juncker’s departure. He told the Prague Daily Monitor personal battles should be avoided at the moment, adding:
“I would be glad if the European Commission helped seek an EU compromise more intensively and tried to solve possible discrepancies between the EU member states more.
“I would also like the Commission to more respect the European Council’s decisions.”
Mr. Sobotka was reportedly referring to the situation during the migrant crisis where individual EU member states agreed on one position, but the Commission insisted on pushing through obligatory migrant quotas.
One area where V4 opinion sits at odds with the mainstream view of EU member states is over Brexit negotiations. They want to see the European Council, under Donald Tusk’s presidency, leading the negotiations which other member states want to see led by President Juncker’s commission.
Support for Mr. Tusk from the V4 is not, however, universal. Politico reports that Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, said he bore “direct responsibility” for Brexit. Mr. Kaczyński blamed the former Polish Prime Minister, a domestic political enemy, for the negotiations with the UK that he believes failed to offer enough concessions for David Cameron to win last week’s referendum.
On Polish television yesterday, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski called Mr. Tusk a “third league politician” who “didn’t exist” during the Brexit crisis.