Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) – Britain must expect EU countries to reciprocate if it starts controlling the number of immigrants from the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek has told CTK in reaction to British PM Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday, in which she outlined London’s idea of the Brexit process.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said May’s speech amounted to “the recognition of reality.”
Zaoralek appreciated that May presented a clear position and he said such a statement was needed.
May said Britain does not want either a partial or associated EU membership. It is going to withdraw from the European Court of Justice, from the single market and other EU structures and to control immigration from the EU countries.
Zaoralek said Britain “cannot expect us to keep our borders open…and take an accommodating approach. If Britain wants certain advantages, wishing to sovereignly manage some areas, it must expect its access to the European market in these areas to end,” Zaoralek said.
He welcomed it that the British government has presented clear positions at last.
“This has probably also been prompted by the falling pound and the uncertainty that the foggy and incomprehensible situation created in the past days,” Zaoralek said.
He said May’s statement that Britain would prefer no agreement to a disadvantageous one, if the EU showed a tendency to punish it for its departure, was important.
Sobotka said May’s statement on the hard Brexit is no surprise because it is not possible to regulate free movement around the EU and simultaneously be a part of the European market.
“It means the recognition of reality and a partial denial of the arguments which supporters of Brexit used before the [mid-2016] referendum,” Sobotka said.
“Nothing is changing for us, we will be defending the interests of Czech citizens staying in Britain,” Sobotka added.
Zaoralek said he does not expect the British measures to significantly affect the Czechs in Britain.
“I am convinced that negotiations may result in guaranteeing their [Czech immigrants’] status to some extent,” he said.
It is too early to guess the possible changes to the customs duty agreements, he said, pointing out that May did not rule out a British-EU deal in this respect.
When it comes to Britain’s departure from the European Court of Justice, Zaoralek said he expects a transitional period of up to five years.