Babis: EU Must Return to Four Freedoms and Remove East-West Division

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis at a joint meeting of the Slovak and Czech Cabinets in Kosice on September 17, 2018. (Photo by TASR)

Kosice, September 17 (TASR) – The Czech Republic, along with the other Visegrad Four (V4) countries (Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), is interested in seeing the EU working properly, as the Union has secured peace for Europe, but there’s a need to return to its four original freedoms – the free movement of goods, capital, services and labour, said Czech Premier Andrej Babis at a joint session of the Slovak and Czech Cabinets in Kosice on Monday.

Babis, who criticised restrictions imposed on road hauliers from new EU-member countries in western Europe, called for European unity without divisions between East and West, partly as a prerequisite for dealing with the many problems currently faced by the continent.

Ahead of the informal EU summit in Salzburg, Austria scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Babis said that “we must clearly state our opinions on the European budget, which I personally don’t like at all, and Frontex, which we don’t need, in my opinion”.

Meanwhile, Babis praised cooperation between the V4 countries as “perfect”.

“All four prime ministers have been acting as a single bloc representing 65 million people. Even though we’re rather smaller nations [perhaps except for Poland with its almost 40-million population – ed. note], it doesn’t mean that we don’t have clear proposals and ideas,” said Babis at the sixth joint meeting of the Slovak and Czech governments in recent years.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia emerged as independent countries 25 years ago following the split of Czechoslovakia, which was founded at the end of the First World War in 1918 and broken up only for six years during WWII. According to Babis, who is himself of Slovak origin, these two countries despite the 1993 split have maintained special relations, including close economic and political ties.