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Czech PM to discuss EU future with statesmen in Austria

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Prague, Aug 19 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Sobotka will debate the future of the EU and the economic and social coming close of its members at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and the Austrian and Slovak PMs, Christian Kern and Robert Fico, to be held in Salzburg, Austria, on August 23.

Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) plan to call on French and Austrian firms to substantially raise the salaries of their employees in the Czech Republic, in connection with the appeals of France and other EU countries for the fight with wage dumping.

Kern also wants to discuss social and wage dumping at the meeting in the “Slavkov format” (Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) along with France.

Representatives of Western countries have criticised wage dumping. Macron recently pointed to Eastern countries profiting from lower labour costs of their workers.

However, Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, the CSSD’s election leader, connect the problem with the remuneration of the workers of the East European branches of the companies, whose headquarters are seated in the West, for instance, in France.

“If it proceeded at this pace, it would last some 222 years for Czech wages to catch up with the French level. We consider this completely unacceptable and impossible,” Sobotka said on Tuesday.

Sobotka will also have tete-a-tete talks with Kern and Macron within the summit in Salzburg.

At a meeting with Macron, Sobotka plans to talk about the strategic partnership of both countries, their defence and security cooperation and the situation in the Mediterranean and Libya, the Government Office said.

Sobotka will also present to Macron the planned events within the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia to be held next year.

Both politicians might also touch upon the Czech tender for a toll operator.

French Ambassador to Prague Roland Galharague criticised its conditions on Friday. He said the conditions of the contract for about 29 billion crowns harmed French firms and played into the hand of the current toll operator, the Austrian company Kapsch.

The Transport Ministry is working out an official response to reject the objections.

The Politico American server has reported this week that Macron would like to persuade his European allies in Salzburg that he does not focus on cooperation with Germany only and will try to revive relations with Eastern Europe after having neglected them for years.

Macron will visit Romania and Bulgaria after the meeting in Salzburg.

The “Slavkov format” of meetings of the Czech and Slovak prime ministers and the Austrian chancellor was created at their summit in Slavkov near Brno, South Moravia, in January 2015.

Its aim is primarily to develop cooperation of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria in neighbourly relations, European policies and other issues. Austria chairs the group now. The previous meeting of the three heads of government took place in Brno in June.

Slavkov (Austerlitz) is mainly known as the venue of the Battle of the Three Emperors in which the Austrian and Russian armies clashed with Napoleon’s army on December 2, 1805.

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