The European Parliament elected its leadership on Wednesday and two Czech MEPs – Dita Charanzová from the Liberals group and Marcel Kolaja from the Greens –were elected vice-president. I asked Libor Rouček, himself a former vice-president of the European Parliament, whether he considers this a significant success for a country the size of the Czech Republic.
Much has been said about the Visegrad group’s strategy at the EU summit. The Czech Republic and its allies achieved their goal in sidelining the Spitzen-candidates, but the V4 was criticized for lacking a positive agenda and for not backing its own candidate.
Has the region served its own best interests?
“I don’t think that it did. Because the Visegrad Four – and that is not the case only at this summit – did not bring any constructive positive proposals to the talks. At the summit for 30 hours the Visegrad group was just blocking the Spitzen-candidates. It did not come with any positive proposal. And the result is that the so-called new member states of Central and Eastern Europe have no representation in those four top positions.”
Yes, there has been criticism of the fact that there is no “geographical balance”. Why was that?
“I think it was because of the attitude of the Vigegrad group, because in the first proposal there was a place for a representative of Eastern Europe – for the Bulgarian candidate Kristalina Georgieva.”
Everyone has been calling for EU reform. Will the new leadership open the door to reform?
“I think that will be the case, because all four –five – representatives understand the global problems and challenges the EU faces and their impact on European states. But what I am not sure is what exactly the V4 and some East European states want, because the reforms others are calling for are not the type of reforms they have in mind.”
Have the EU elections and the division of top posts strengthened the position of the Czech Republic in the EU?
“I do not think so. As I said, it is a success that we have two EP vice-presidents. It is good not only for the Czech Republic but for the entire European Parliament –both of them are sensible, good, honest people. But, if we take into account the position of the Czech Republic, or the Visegrad group in general, then I am afraid that by these obstructive tactics the Czech Republic and the V4 will isolate themselves even more. Because it is not just this issue that is problematic – if we take climate change or the energy policy then the V4 tries to block every proposal going in the direction of greener energy. Look at the refugee issues. I think we should have a common asylum policy which the V4 countries also do not want. So it is not one issue, there are more issues on which the Visegrad countries differ from the rest of Europe.”