Saturday

25th Sep 2021

Opinion

Visegrad members must stick together

  • The EU Council keeps getting bigger and bigger (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The European Union is no longer a club of a few French-speaking politicians who know each other well.

Nowadays, even the smallest informal meetings involve dozens of attendees including delegations and translators.

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

The more the Council’s negotiations resemble a small parliament, the more important are the informal coalitions of states which share common interests and are willing to help each other.

The Visegrad Group (V4), a sort of central European Benelux, was established nearly 25 years ago with the aim of speeding up European integration in central Europe. It later became a coordination body within the Union itself.

The alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia has taken note of Parkinson’s law - that a "sufficiently large bureaucracy will create enough for work itself" - and has resisted the temptation to establish formal official structures.

Its readiness for action is fully dependent on the abilities of political leaders to reach agreement, which isn’t a weakness but rather a strength.

It has kept a strong democratic ethos and cannot be accused of Brussels elitism, nor of being isolated from the social and economic issues which shape people’s views of the EU.

This is why the V4, currently under the Czech presidency, must deal with questions of migration, energy security, physical and digital infrastructure, employment, and common defence from outside threats.

The Visegrad connection shows that cooperation is possible even among governments from different sides of the political spectrum, and between countries of different sizes.

Beyond the V4, in terms of the internal market, the Visegrad group shares a common attitude with Scandinavian countries.

Poland often represents us in the big league, when negotiating with Germany and France. Berlin and Vienna, especially, take the Visegrad’s joint positions very seriously.

The priorities of the Czech V4 presidency are: energy, including development of nuclear resources; common planning and acquisitions in defence and security; external relations, focusing on the instability in eastern Europe; illegal immigration, and the digital single market.

In 2016 the Visegrad Group will celebrate 25 years since its establishment. At the time of its inception in 1991, the world - especially the political map of Europe - looked very different.

But V4 members already had one thing in common: the need to strengthen mutual trust and solidarity.

Today, as the stability of Europe is threatened by developments in the south, east and west of the continent, this is more necessary than ever.

Tomas Prouza is the Czech state secretary for European affairs

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Magazine

The rise and shine of Visegrad

The V4 countries - Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - has turned the EU's migration policy around. They now set their sights on reshaping the union.

Europe's looming dichotomy

Central European leaders are content to receive financial support from Brussels, but are unwilling to share their new-found wealth with migrants seeking a safe-haven in their countries

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

Russia's biggest enemy? Its own economy

Russia's leaders have been fully aware of the reasons for its underlying economic weakness for more than two decades. Dependency on energy exports and the lack of technological innovation were themes of Vladimir Putin's first state-of-the-nation address back in 2000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us