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Právo: Czechs should not cut welfare in face of migration wave

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Prague, Aug 3 (CTK) – Europe, including Czechs, should not solve the current mass influx of refugees by reducing its welfare system, as it would harm Europeans themselves, Lukas Jelinek writes in daily Pravo yesterday.
No quick method of solving the migration crisis has emerged so far. The seemingly simplest idea, or the construction of refugee camps in north Africa and the Middle East, has been opposed by the governments in the regions concerned, Jelinek writes.
The idea of returning illegal immigrants to their home countries is also unfeasible because most of them have no documents on them and their home country is impossible to identify, Jelinek writes.
He cites Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), who told Pravo recently that Prague’s “departure from the EU, the enclosing of the Czech Republic with a fence and the deployment of the military along the border is no solution” to the migration crisis.
“On the contrary, we need stronger Europe, we need an European army and a strong foreign policy that would be able to mediate peace. The migration wave will not disappear without wars being stopped in our surroundings,” Sobotka is quoted as saying in the Saturday issue of Pravo.
Sobotka’s words are serious and also courageous, Jelinek writes.
The vision of a joint European military has a number of opponents, including in the Czech Republic. Its establishment would probably be useful, though its task would not be to “stop wars in our surroundings,” not without the U.N. mandate at least, Jelinek writes.
The latest arrogant trips of European and U.S. soldiers to foreign continents were far from a brilliant success, he adds ironically.
Sobotka’s emphasis on “stronger Europe” is crucial. In what should Europe be stronger? In defence? In culture? In its awareness of the values and traditions it is based on? In its welfare system enabling a specific European life style? Jelinek asks.
Many politicians believe that the European welfare state is too generous. In the Czech Republic, the EU’s social, health and environmental standards were previously mainly challenged by Vaclav Klaus, former Civic Democratic Party (ODS) chairman (1991-2002) and president (2003-2013), Jelinek writes.
Most recently, it has been the present ODS chairman, Petr Fiala, who calls for the EU to make its welfare system less attractive. Czech Finance Minister and ANO movement head Andrej Babis has come to a similar conclusion when assessing the pros and cons of European integration from the financial point of view, Jelinek writes.
On Friday, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) challenged “only” the welfare system of Germany, but the German system is a basic pillar and a symbol of Europe’s welfare policy, Jelinek writes.
Germany, with “its generous welfare system, has become a magnet for people from all over the world. If this does not change in Germany, the stream of migrants heading there will not diminish,” Chovanec said.
In the Czech Republic, a consensus seems to be emerging across the political spectrum on that the EU lacks effective instruments to solve security and migration risks, Jelinek writes.
Before, the right- and left-wing parties’ positions on fiscal discipline started mingling. Will the need to change the generous welfare system be emphasised by both the right and the left camps now? Jelinek asks.
It could be a way out of the crisis. If the EU cut its welfare benefits, wages and pensions, if it lowered its public education and health care systems’ level, it could discourage “the third world” inhabitants from setting out for Europe, Jelinek writes.
In Europe, such restrictions would immensely please the promoters of austerity reforms and competitiveness. However, it is not sure whether the life in Europe would remain acceptable for Europeans and whether they would prefer leaving the continent in search of a better-off life, Jelinek writes with sarcasm.
Let’s hope that politicians will find a way out of the crisis. However, changing the welfare state would be harmful rather than useful, Jelinek concludes.

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