Visegrad Group meets to debate EU and regional issues

Visegrad Group summit in Budapest, photo: CTK

The heads of government of the Visegrad Group are holding a summit in Budapest on Friday. The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are debating the establishment of a regional development bank, European issues and bilateral cooperation.

Visegrad Group summit in Budapest,  photo: CTK
The leaders of the Visegrad Group are meeting in Budapest among others to consult their positions on key issues ahead of an EU summit in February. One of the issues high on their agenda is the question of mandatory migrant quotas over which the European Council has taken three of the Visegrad Group states – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to court, for allegedly breaking the solidarity principle.

Friday’s meeting moreover comes hard on the heels of a revelation by Hungary‘s foreign minister that despite the government’s anti-migrant stance Hungary had quietly accepted 1,300 refugees in 2017. What countries the migrants came from is not clear.

The Czech Republic’s negative stand to the mandatory redistribution of migrants – and the proposed Dublin 4 reforms - remains unchanged and Prime Minister Andrej Babis recently discussed the issue with Bojko Borisov, the prime minister of Bulgaria whose country has just taken up the rotating presidency of the European Council. Mr. Babis is due to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on January 29th when he will present his arguments against mandatory migrant quotas and try to get the legal charges withdrawn.

Another big topic on the agenda of the V4 summit is the proposed creation of a Central European Development Bank on the reasoning that European funds for such projects are restricted and might dry up in the future. The idea has strong backing from Poland and Hungary who argue that Central Europe should look outside of Europe for cheaper investment funds, but was cold-shouldered by the Czech prime minister. Mr. Babis said ahead of the talks that while he would gladly listen to his partner’s arguments, the Czech Republic’s primary responsibility was to maintain the country’s own investment banks in good condition - the Czech Export Bank and the Czech-Moravian Development Bank.

The Visegrad Group meeting will also entail a series of one-on-one meetings between the heads of government on bilateral cooperation in the spheres of transport, education and science and research.