Twenty-three EU member states, including the Czech Republic, have signed up to a European pact on defence cooperation called Pesco (Permanent Structured Cooperation). The deal, to be formally launched in December, is likely to cover everything from troops and arms to new defence projects, with varying input from different countries.
One of the important issues discussed at the two-day EU summit in Brussels was proposed changes in the mechanism of EU decision-making, which would allow some EU members to push ahead with integration faster. For the Czech Republic, which is still outside the Eurozone, this could present a serious problem.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other members of the government as well as the opposition have condemned Czech President Miloš Zeman’s rejection of EU sanctions against Russia. The head of state told the Council of Europe on Tuesday that, in his view, sanctions were not working and called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “irreversible”.
There’s little doubt that the European Union has gone through a lot of turbulence over the past few years and has scrambled to come up with new policies as a result. But the outgoing Czech prime minister believes it has boosted the country’s reputation in these difficult times and cast itself as a reliable and steady partner.
The man most responsible for Brexit – Nigel Farage – has been in Prague to make his contribution to the campaign for upcoming Czech elections. And the former head of the UKIP party had a series of messages for politicians in general, Czechs in particular, and his own take on the continuing Brexit negotiations.