Babis for changes in EU Council operation, discussion in NATO



14. 11. 2019 • 09:00

Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) repeated his appeal for changes in the European Council's operation at a press conference after a joint meeting of the Czech and Slovak cabinets yesterday, and mentioned the need of a more comprehensive discussion between members of NATO.


He spoke against the agenda of the meetings of the European Council being determined by bureaucrats. The European Council should meet more often and the summits' agenda should more often be chosen by the participants themselves, he said.

"It is mainly necessary that the European Council meetings become debates, instead of series of speeches," Babis said at a joint press conference with his Slovak counterpart Peter Pellegrini (Smer-Social Democracy).

He said the Visegrad Four (V4) group, comprising Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, also wants to submit topics to be discussed.

European leaders' differing statements sometimes result from their lack of information about each other's views. The European Councils' rules of procedure should be changed, Babis said.

Pellegrini, too, appealed for the EU summits to be more effective. The quality of the speeches might improve if the talks were not held behind the closed door, he said.

In connection with Turkey's military offensive in northeast Syria, Babis called for European countries to launch a debate on the continent's security.

"NATO members share the same values, but three [NATO] states lie outside Europe and we need an agreement between the European countries that are members of NATO," Babis said.

He said he does not support the idea of a joint European army. "Nevertheless, we should discuss it," he said.

Babis also criticised the programme of the two-day NATO summit to be held in Britain in early December. "The programme lasts three hours, each country has four minutes at its disposal. This is not enough. Maybe the European members of NATO should discuss this," he said.

Babis and Pellegrini said in a joint statement posted online that the Czech and Slovak governments will support the new European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen so that its steps help boost European cohesion and bring concrete solutions that are important for citizens.

Prague and Bratislava want to coordinate their positions within the preparation of the EU's multiannual budget framework for 2021-2027, they wrote.

Czechia and Slovakia consider an active and open trade policy the EU's crucial priority. "They do not view protectionism or building of barriers as a path forwards," Babis and Pellegrini wrote, adding that both the Czech and Slovak governments support the completion of the ongoing talks on trade agreements, with the USA, for example.

At the press conference, Pellegrini spoke about NATO's schizophrenic approach to Turkey. "A NATO member has completed a combat operation, after which we, the other members of NATO, will discuss in the EU on what sanctions to impose," Pellegrini said.

In addition, Turkey has violated international agreements and is even starting to openly blackmail Europe, he added.