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PM to debate migration, EU defence with Italian counterpart

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Prague, Sept 6 (CTK) – Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) is meeting his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni in Prague today to discuss EU issues such as solutions to the migrant crisis, enhanced cooperation in defence and approximation of salary levels in different parts of the EU.

Sobotka also discussed these issues with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and French President Emmanuel Macron in the past weeks.

Italy, along with Greece, are the EU countries which are overburdened with migrants. This is why the EU approved quotas on the number of immigrants to be distributed across the EU to ease the situation in Italy and Greece.

The Czech Republic rejects the quotas, but other European states, too, have accepted only a small part of the immigrants they were to accept according to the approved plan.

The Czech cabinet rejects criticism towards Prague as to alleged lack of solidarity with the other EU member states.

Sobotka has repeatedly stressed that the Czech Republic is helping improve the conditions of immigrants in their home countries and also supporting the protection of the EU’s outer border.

The Czech Republic contributes financially to the coastguard in Libya, the number one country of departure of immigrants heading for Italy.

Sobotka and Gentiloni will discuss the reinforcement of the EU’s common defence, which the Czech Republic supports, stressing that it should not compete with NATO.

Both politicians will also discuss a potential future expansion of the EU to also include the states of the Western Balkans, and deal with salary convergence across the EU.

Bilateral economic cooperation will be on the agenda as well.

Sobotka also previously discussed the approximation of salaries in the eastern and western part of the EU with Macron, Kern and Slovak PM Robert Fico at their August meeting in Salzburg.

Regarding the differences in salaries, some western European states speak about social dumping on the part of central and eastern European countries. Sobotka, however, said at the Salzburg meeting that one of the factors behind cheap labour in the Czech Republic is that foreign companies economize on their workforce in the Czech Republic. Participants in the meeting agreed to seek a solution to this issue.

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