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Working group to seek Czech strategy for Brexit talks

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Prague, July 12 (CTK) – The working group for Brexit headed by state secretary for EU affairs Tomas Prouza (Social Democrats, CSSD), which is to seek the strategy of the Czech Republic for the talks on Britain’s departure from the Union, will meet for the first time on Thursday.

It is to submit the draft strategy by the end of September.

According to experts addressed by CTK, Prague should try to achieve better conditions for British investors.

The working group for Brexit was established at the end of June.

PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said then one of the most important goals would be to keep equal conditions for Czech citizens on the British labour market that Britons enjoyed in the Czech Republic.

The working group is also to define the Czech priorities for the future form of the EU, Sobotka said.

Krystof Krulis, analyst of the Association for International Affairs (AMO), says the Czech Republic need not focus on the labour force movement only.

This issue is more significant for the partners of the Czech Republic in the Visegrad Group (V4): Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, he said.

“We can rely on Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic countries to submit their demand for the preservation of the free movement of workers. However, the Czech Republic should also watch other areas it finds interesting carefully,” Krulis said.

He added that the talks might focus on the rules of British investments in the Czech Republic and the position of Czech exporters on the British market.

“Our prime minister was taking the interests of the whole V4 group into consideration in his stance during the discussion about Brexit. This might change now,” Krulis told CTK.

European Values think tank director Radko Hokovsky confirmed his words.

“The free movement of labour force is undoubtedly more important for Poland and Slovakia. It is a question whether the Czech Republic should become the country exerting pressure on Britain in this respect,” Hokovsky said.

Krulis pointed out that the EU did not know yet how the talks with Britain would look like.

Individual member states want to have the process in control, while the European Commission and the European Parliament would like to have their say in the Brexit talks as well.

“If the European Council becomes the steering body, there is a chance of the member states’ interests being reflected in the result more directly. However, the interests of the strongest countries might prevail then,” he added.

A number of European politicians, including Sobotka, called for a discussion on the EU reform after the result of the British referendum on leaving the EU was released.

Such a debate should be led across Czech political parties, Hokovsky said.

“This is a highly political topic – the debate basically began with the PM’s speech on Brexit in the Chamber of Deputies [on June 30],” Hokovsky said .

“Czech political representatives should agree on their joint idea of the reformed Europe,” he added.

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