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PM: EU should not backpedal on Schengen project

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Bratislava, Oct 13 (CTK) – EU states should not backpedal on former agreements, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka told European Council head Donald Tusk on behalf of the Visegrad Group (V4) PMs at their meeting on Friday, and when talking to media, he gave the Schengen area of the free movement of people as an example.

The V4 is comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

“Some countries show efforts to raise the possibility of checks along the EU’s internal borders. I would consider this a path backwards. We are for [EU members] to strongly protect the EU’s external border, but the number of barriers in our Schengen area should be the lowest possible,” Sobotka said.

The V4 PMs met Tusk following a summit focusing on a dual quality of foods on the EU market.

Sobotka said he and his V4 counterparts agreed with Tusk that the main course of changes in the EU was outlined by last year’s Bratislava summit of the 27 EU members and the subsequent meeting in Rome.

Tusk informed the four PMs about a plan to introduce informal meetings of EU countries’ leaders in addition to the European Council’s formal meetings as a step to create more space for the debate on crucial issues, Sobotka said.

Before the V4-Tusk meeting, Slovak PM Robert Fico told journalists that the V4 wants the EU future to be jointly debated by all EU members except for Britain, which is leaving the EU.

“We want the future to be discussed within the 27-member EU. It is impossible for the states with the euro to go separate and talk with each other without the countries that do not have the euro,” Fico said.

Slovakia is the only V4 member to have introduced the euro.

Sobotka emphasised the need to maintain the Schengen area of free movement without checks at internal borders.

“We are interested in the EU returning to the Schengen area’s correct operation. There is no reason to close internal borders,” Sobotka told the press conference.

Some EU states introduced border checks inside the Schengen area in reaction to the recent migrant crisis, and they have repeatedly extended the measure every half year.

Most recently, applications for a new extension of the checks beyond November 11 have been submitted by Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

In late September, the EC proposed an amendment to the Schengen code to enable member countries to preserve the interim border checks for a longer period.

The EU interior ministers were discussing the proposal in Luxembourg on Friday.

V4 prime ministers also agreed in Bratislava on Friday that the EU must remain united and at the same time it must respect the specific features of its individual members.

Fico said the V4 is for the maintenance of balance between European institutions.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said it is necessary to strengthen the position of EU member countries and their national institutions.

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