Czechs seek to gain observer status at Eurozone meetings

Photo: European Parliament via / CC BY-NC-ND

The Czech Republic may seek to gain observer status at Eurozone meetings to get on the inside track of the EU decision-making process.

Bohuslav Sobotka,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic and other EU member states that have not yet adopted the euro may seek to gain observer status at meetings of euro zone finance ministers. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has floated the idea at home and abroad, arguing that such a step could increase trust between EU member states and prevent their further alienation.

While European leaders have been considering various reforms in response to Brexit, such as tighter integration between the Eurozone countries, those outside the zone, including the Czech Republic, are concerned they will be left out in the cold, with scant influence on the EU decision-making process.

For the Czechs, who have not as yet set a time-frame for euro adoption and have been increasingly cautious about making a commitment, the prospect of being left in the slow lane with no influence on important decisions that will inevitably influence them, is raising grave concerns.

In order to counter the prospect of growing isolation and secure some insight into the governance of the Eurozone, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka would like to see the Czech Republic gain a special observer status at Eurozone meetings.

He first presented the idea last Wednesday in Salzburg at a meeting with representatives of Slovakia, Austria and France. Outlining it in greater detail at an annual meeting of Czech diplomats on Monday, Mr. Sobotka said such a step would increase trust among EU members and counter the idea of Eurozone members acting in their own best interests regardless of the others.

Photo: European Parliament via / CC BY-NC-ND
“It would be an expression of trust and solidarity. We will see if this proposition gains support, but I think it could be one way to prevent a growing divide between the Eurozone and the other EU member states.”

According to Martin Povejšil, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the European Union, it is too early to say if the idea will gain broad support, since the Czech Republic had not had enough time to present it properly to its EU partners.

Already though, there have been critical reactions to the idea in the Czech Republic. Former foreign minister Cyril Svoboda said the proposition suggested Czechs wanted to have their cake and eat it. “What it signals is that we want to be at the negotiating table, we want to be part of the debate, but are not willing to take full responsibility for the decisions taken,” Mr. Svoboda argued.

Whatever the fate of this Czech proposal turns out to be, it is clear that the moves towards further integration taken by the hard-core EU members will inevitably force the Czech Republic to speed up its decision on whether it wants to be in the fast or slow lane of the European Union.