Visegrad leaders have praised the compromise reached between the UK and the rest of the European Union last week over UK Prime Minister David Cameron's demand for Britain to receive special membership conditions.
While the package includes some measures that will be seen as genuine positives for the often eurosceptic region, the main point – the limitation of benefits for workers from EU states – goes against the grain in countries that have provided millions of migrant workers since joining the bloc in 2004. The capitulation of the Visegrad states on the demands out of the UK appears to argue with the group's recent attempts to display strength and unity, particularly in connection with the migrant crisis.
Central Europe clearly sought to extract as much as possible in return for the measures, in drawn out negotiations. However, the deal was pushed through by the heavyweights to the west of the EU, and it appears the leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia had little choice but to play along.
I am more and more perplexed by the British approach of non-negotiation. Quite unorthodox, to say the least," the Czech State Secretary for EU affairs, Tomas Prouza, wrote on his Twitter account.
“Europe has shown tremendous willingness to continue as a strong community,” said Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. His priority had been to preserve the freedom of movement for labour and non-discrimination, and he claimed success. The protective mechanism and an indexation allowance for children will protect the interests of Czechs working abroad, he said in a statement.
Claiming Britain’s demands are about making the EU stronger and thus more competitive, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban praised the "joint efforts" of the V4 for "the favourable outcome" of negotiations with Britain, according to MTI. UK Prime Minister David Cameron spent much of the last few weeks in the region pushing for the likes of Hungary to agree not to block his benefits brake.
On top of the welfare changes, the agreement Cameron will put in front of UK voters includes a guarantee for non-Eurozone states regarding their say in the bloc, provisions for improving the competitiveness of the EU, clarification of the founding phrase “ever closer union,” and a new mechanism to involve national parliaments. Cameron will have the measures passed should the UK agree to stay in the EU in a referendum in June.