Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Defending the defenders: ombudsmen need support

Ombudsmen are often coming under attack or facing different kinds of challenges. These can include threats, legal action, reprisals, budget cuts or a limitation of their mandate.

Column

The benefits of being unpopular

Paradoxically, the lack of popularity may be part of the strength of the European project. Citizens may not be super-enthusiastic about the EU, but when emotions run too high in politics, hotheads may take over.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. EU open to imminent Brexit extension, Tusk indicates
  2. EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  3. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  4. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  5. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  6. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  7. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  8. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us