Friday

19th Aug 2022

Czech PM mulls euro referendum

  • Is the clock ticking for a euro referendum? (Photo: Wikipedia)

The ruling euro-sceptic ODS party in the Czech Republic wants to push for a referendum on the country's future eurozone accession, claiming that the rules have changed since 2003 when Czechs said yes to the EU and the euro.

The recent agreement on another bail-out for Greece and on boosting the eurozone's bailout fund is fuelling Czech calls for a referendum, said Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We should allow non-eurozone members – such as my country the Czech Republic – to decide again whether they wish to enter. We signed up to a monetary union, not a transfer union or a bond union in our accession treaty. This is the major reason why the Czech Prime minister wishes to call the referendum on this matter," Zahradil said in a statement.

The Czech Republic, along with all other eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, is obliged to adopt the euro once budget deficit and other economic conditions are met.

Slovenia, Estonia and neighbouring Slovakia are already members of the 17-strong club. Latvia is also striving to join, while Poland, though still seeing it as goal, says eurozone accession is no longer a priority.

But none has so far demanded a referendum, since nine of newest member states, including the Czech Republic, already had a plebiscite on joining the EU.

Last weekend, at an ODS party congress, Prime Minister Petr Necas demanded a referendum on whether the country should join the eurozone.

"The conditions under which the Czech citizens decided in a referendum in 2003 on the country's accession to the EU and on its commitment to adopt the single currency, euro, have changed. That is why the ODS will demand that a possible accession to the single currency and the entry into the European stabilisation mechanism be decided on by Czech citizens," the ODS resolution says.

Prime Minister Necas also floated the idea in case Germany gets it way on another treaty change bringing about more economic integration and tougher sanctions for deficit sinners.

"In the event that there is a change to fundamental rights that would result in powers being transferred from national organs to European organs, this government is bound to ratify this step with a referendum,” Necas told reporters in Brussels on Sunday evening.

Bohuslav Sobotka, leader of the Social-Democratic opposition, accused the ODS of diverting attention from domestic issues "with attacks on the eurozone." More than 3,000 had taken to the streets of Prague on Saturday to protest against "anti-social" austerity measures.

"There’s a danger that, thanks to Necas, we will end up on the edge of integration and we will lose all influence in Europe,” Sobotka said.

The referendum call is also criticised by Brussels experts. "It's completely wrong, it's purely populist to call for a referendum when losing popularity," Piotr Kaczynski from the Centre for European Policy Studies told this website.

With the mood against the EU and the euro on the rise among Czechs, Kaczynski says that such a referendum would certainly result in a No. "Czechs observe Slovakia closely, where they may see the benefits of euro membership, but the costs are much bigger," he said, in reference to the government collapse earlier this month over the eurozone's bail-out fund.

"It's a clear illustration of a new disease manifested in the UK and the Czech Republic: that of introvertism and isolationism. If these countries believe they can do on their own, I wish them good luck," Kaczynski said.

Opinion

Where is the Czech Republic's Mr EU?

The one-upmanship between parties in the governing coalition leaves the Czech Republic without a 'Mr EU' and risks undermining the standing of the country within the bloc, argues academic Jakub Kulhanek.

Gloomy prospects for Czech referendum on EU Constitution

The Czech cabinet has adopted a law paving the way for a referendum on the EU Constitution, while the eurosceptic opposition has tabled its own version of the bill. The row could lead to a ratification in parliament, which might also prove difficult.

Slovakia's government stares into the abyss

When a pro-western coalition swept to power in Slovak elections in 2020, many saw it as the start of a new era. Yet fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the four-party coalition is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us