Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš about the future of the EU and its role in tackling migration
Körber-Stiftung: Prime Minister Babiš, you regularly stress the importance of the EU returning to its foundations and upholding its own standards. What does this mean?
Babiš: Europe must have a vision for the future. First, we must define the shape of the EU, especially the Schengen area by integrating Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia and setting up a strategy for the West Balkans. Then the Schengen area will match the natural borders of Europe, and will be protected effectively by its own naval borders – as in the Gaulish village of Asterix and Obelix, where citizens can travel, work, trade and provide services freely. These four freedoms are not reality in the EU today. We do not need more European integration; we need strong positions of the member states and a de-politicized European Commission.
Körber-Stiftung: There seems to be disagreement between Eastern and Western Europe about these reforms.
Babiš: The significant difference is that some EU countries consider illegal migration as normal. I cannot agree with that. The EU member states should decide for themselves who works and lives in the EU. Neither the EU Commission nor the member states should be able to take that decision for us. The reason why we say we are not going to accept refugees is that the EU does not have a clear strategy. It is not clear who should hold talks. We need to conclude agreements with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Looking at all the problems the EU faces, we need to be united in the EU – pull together, demonstrate strength and defend ourselves. We need a strategy.
Körber-Stiftung: What is Germany’s role in this?
Babiš: Germany is Europe’s economic super-power and its role is essential. Together, we need to find funds in the EU budget to solve the problems associated with immigration. More than anything, we need a clear scheme to fight and stop people smugglers. The European operation “SOPHIA”, which targets networks of people smugglers, is great as a project, but it remains limited. The main problem is Libya.
Körber-Stiftung: What is the worst possible scenario for the EU and the Czech Republic in 2030?
Babiš: The worst scenario is that more countries than just Britain will leave the EU. I am very disappointed about Brexit. It is crucial that we defend our beliefs. Our people are concerned about multi-cultural societies. The opinion on migration is shifting across Europe. The European elections next year will demonstrate how migration is seen by the “silent majority”.