- Published: 04.11.2019.
Croatian and Czech PMs meet to discuss European and bilateral issues
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis in Prague on Monday evening, discussing ongoing negotiations on the multiannual EU budget, strengthening economic cooperation and trade between the two countries, enlargement of the Schengen area, migration, and the priorities of the forthcoming Croatian presidency of the EU.
The meeting took place ahead of Tuesday's summit of Friends of Cohesion, an informal group of EU member states that receive more from the EU budget than they contribute to it.
"It is very important to us that the amount of funds that we will have in the cohesion envelope is at the level of the present seven-year budget period," Plenkovic told a joint press conference with the Czech prime minister.
Plenkovic said that it was important for Croatia to catch up with central European countries that had joined the EU in 2004 and had benefited considerably from EU membership.
The next long-term budget covers the period from 2021 to 2027, and given that this money can be used for another three years, it means that it covers the entire next decade.
"We want to be in a position at the end of the next decade to be able to look back calmly on all our achievements from EU membership since 2013," the Croatian PM said.
Plenkovic wants a balance to be found in budget negotiations between countries that traditionally want EU budget funding to be reduced and those that want larger allocations for poorer members so that they can catch up faster with more developed countries.
"We want a more consensus-based approach, we don't want winners and losers in this game," Plenkovic said, adding that this was particularly important for Croatia as the next president of the Council of the European Union. He said that there would be enough funds for cohesion policy in the EU budget.
Babis said that the Czech Republic supported Croatia's aspirations to join the Schengen passport-free travel area, after the European Commission assessed that the country had met all the technical criteria.
"I think Croatia deserves to be part of the Schengen area," Babis said.
The two prime ministers expressed their satisfaction with the development of economic cooperation and trade and supported their further promotion. Last year trade between Croatia and the Czech Republic reached €900 million, and about 700,000 Czech tourists visited Croatia.
Plenkovic acquainted his host with the work programme of the Croatian presidency of the EU.
As for migration, both countries agree that this issue should be tackled at its source, where migrants come from, and when they come to the EU, their applications should be dealt with in the first EU country that they enter.