National sovereignty should not be degraded by membership in the European Union, it should be the basis and concept of European identity. This was stated by the Prime Minister of the ending government, Andrej Babiš (ANO), in a pre-recorded speech at the Central Europe: National Sovereignty or European Identity in the Integration of the European Union conference at the Grandium Hotel in Prague. He warned that the EU would become a “super-national federation”.
“Membership of the European Union should not present us with an election, but in fact guarantee both. National sovereignty should be the basis and concept of European identity, the rules of the European Union project. There should be a relationship between the two ideas,” the prime minister said. According to him, this is not happening at the moment.
After the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU tried to promote the concept of European identity and there are attempts to make decision-making in the bloc more centralized, he says. According to Babiš, the European Commission has a tendency to intervene in the affairs of the member states. He mentioned, for example, Poland and Hungary.
According to the Prime Minister, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe do not agree with the idea of a “super-national federation”. These countries have been part of the Soviet bloc for almost half a century, so they are very sensitive to issues of national sovereignty, he says.
Babiš also said that he heard opinions from many people that during the referendum on joining the EU in 2003, they had no doubts that it was right to be part of the bloc. But currently they are not satisfied with the membership, they see a different organization than the one they wanted. According to them, the EU no longer promotes the free movement of people, goods or ideas, but bureaucracy and increasing interference in everyday life, Babiš noted. These people feel cheated and would not vote for EU membership again, he said. “This is a story I hear, but it’s not a story I want to hear,” he added.
The chairman of the YES movement noted that the European Union is doing well in some areas. According to him, however, it is important, for example, that it be a strong and visible player on the international field in connection with the crises in Ukraine, Syria, Libya or Iraq. “Otherwise, no one will take the European Union seriously,” he said.
As before, Babiš criticized today that the four main freedoms, especially the single internal market, had not been completed. He also reiterated that it was not right that Bulgaria or Romania, for example, were still not part of the Schengen area.
MEP Dita Charanz (for YES) mentioned that Europe has recently faced various challenges: Britain’s exit from the bloc, the migration crisis, the challenges of the eurozone, terrorist attacks and the now coronavirus pandemic. According to her, it is necessary to think about what can be done better. According to her, it is necessary to invite citizens to the discussion.
Former Belgian Prime Minister and Member of the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt, Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek (CSSD) and State Secretary for European Affairs Milena Hrdinková will also speak at the conference.