Prague, Aug 27 (CTK) – The Czech Republic’s departure from the European Union (EU) would threaten the country’s future, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said in his speech at the annual conference of Czech ambassadors today.
He also stressed the EU’s importance for Czech trade.
The European Union should return to its essence, which is to secure a safe continent and the single market functioning, he said.
In this respect, he mentioned the necessity of a European solution to migration and he ruled out that it could be based on the quotas on the redistribution of refugees across the EU countries.
“We are a firm part of the West, we are an EU member and an ally within NATO, which no one can question,” Babis said.
“If someone is speaking about Czexit, they threaten our future,” he stressed.
He recalls that 83 percent of the Czech export goes to the EU member states and the Czech Republic has gained a net income of 700 billion crowns from European funds during its EU membership.
Moreover, the Czech GDP has increased by 37 percent since the EU entry in May 2004.
The Czech government is critical of the EU in a situation where it is promoting national interests, but this does not mean that it takes an anti-European stance, Babis pointed out.
“The European Union should return to its essence, to its original mission. This means a safe and prosperous continent based on an internal market,” he said.
He also said he expected the new European Commission (EC), set next year after the EP elections, to focus on the completion of the internal market.
Babis also dealt with migration in his speech, saying a common European solution must be sought. In his opinion, this should be the seeking of an agreement on the return of migrants with North African countries, similar to that the EU signed with Turkey, which restricted the migrants’ flow across the Balkan route, Babis said.
He also clearly rejected the EU migrant quotas.
“If am saying I do not want to accept a single migrant, this is a certain symbol,” he said.
Speaking about defence funding, Babis said that during a debate the defence spending level in NATO, not only the share of defence expenditures in GDP should be taken into consideration, but also their absolute level.
Under the agreement that the NATO members confirmed at the summit in Wales in 2014, each country is to earmark at least 2 percent of its GDP for defence. U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the NATO members to meet this goal.
The Czech Republic at present spends 1.1 percent of GDP on defence and it is to reach 2 percent in 2024, according to the government’s plan.