Monday

30th Nov 2020

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.

Von der Leyen tells Poland and Hungary to go to court

Poland and Hungary should ask the EU's top court to assess linking EU funds to the respect of the rule of law instead of blocking the budget and recovery package, the EU Commission chief said, most MEPs backed her up.

German minister predicts rule-of-law solution in 'days'

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said the will be "able to take decisions" in the next few days on the budget and coronavirus recovery fund. Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki will travel to Budapest on Thursday.

EU pushes back against rising homophobia

The EU Commission plans a proposal to ensure recognition children-parent relations in cross border situations, and legislation to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. EU taxpayers in the dark on US corona-drug deal
  2. EU debates first names to go on human rights blacklist
  3. Lithuania bids to host EU cyber-centre
  4. Amnesty exposes Amazon staff conditions on 'Black Friday'
  5. Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK
  6. 25 years on: what next for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation?
  7. Erdoğan jails hundreds for life, as EU weighs relations
  8. Italian energy giant director advising EU foreign policy chief

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us