Visegrad leaders stand united at Prague summit

Visegrad leaders stand united at Prague summit
By Tamas Szilagyi in Budapest January 17, 2020

Visegrad 4 (V4) leaders confirmed their agreement on the issue of migration at the summit in Prague on January 16. The meeting between the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary covered important foreign policy issues such as EU enlargement and the common budget and energy issues.

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz also took part in the talks. His invitation suggests that Kurz is trying to be a bridge-builder between CEE states and older EU members.

The prime ministers of the four Visegrad countries agree that quotas for the redistribution of migrants are not the solution. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary refused to take any migrants, for which the Commission took them to the bloc’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said the summit’s major achievement was to identify areas of cooperation that include migration, security, border protection, competitiveness, climate protection, and EU enlargement. The areas of "non-cooperation" have also been defined, one of which is nuclear energy, he added.

Differences between Austria and V4 countries remain in energy issues. Austria is opposed to nuclear power and refuses to channel EU money towards coal-dependent regions. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, on the other hand, want to increase the use of nuclear in their energy mix.

As an investor and trading partner, Austria is a natural partner for Hungary and the V4, Orban said

He called on his Czech counterpart to invite Western Balkan countries seeking EU membership to a conference on Europe’s future, since this would concern those countries as well.

Answering a question, Orban said the V4 stood united against any diversion of cohesion funding to finance new climate protection goals. "If we want more Europe, we need more money, but not at the expense of old programs," he said.