* Poland and Czech Republic: How are the two new leaders in Visegrad performing?
** V4 Report prediction: Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki will eventually command more influence in Europe than France’s Emmanuel Macron, who is an overhyped creation of the media.
Obviously, we are pleased with Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and believe this has been verified by his strong actions and convictions to date. While we also thought Beata Szydlo was excellent, we have confidence in Morawiecki to build upon and strengthen the foundation.
Andrej Babis is a different story. He started out strong in Brussels a few weeks ago by joining the other leaders of Visegrad in opposition to the EU migrant quotas. However, his statements regarding Poland and Article 7 were quite vague. We have major concerns with members of his ANO/ALDE group and the negative influence they may have on him.
Yesterday, Babis again left us curious with his latest comments (translated article below) regarding the European Commission’s lawsuit. The entire process could take up to 18 months.
Frans Timmermans explained that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland can still fulfill their obligations to accept migrant quotas to avoid EU punishment. (No thanks, Frans. Their “obligation” is the security of their citizens, not “EU solidarity” on migration.)
This is a concern with Babis, who is also under investigation by the EU. EUCO is desperately trying to isolate Hungary and Poland and will be looking to make a deal with Babis similar to the one struck with Robert Fico in Slovakia.
The response translated from Babis indicates that he may be somewhat naive to the way the leaders of Brussels operate.
The Czech Republic, according to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), will do everything to prevent the action brought by the European Commission at the Court of Justice on Thursday regarding the relocation quotas.
Babis claims that the same view on the redistribution program for asylum seekers was given by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. “He shares the same opinion that quotas are inefficient,” Babis said, adding that he wants to talk with Juncker about the case.
In other words, Babis somehow believes he can “negotiate” with Juncker over migrant quotas as if this was a business transaction. However, any negotiation involves “give and take”. What is Babis planning to give in exchange for stopping the procedure against the Czech Republic? What is the one thing that Brussels wants? Ask Robert Fico. Submission to their demands to accept “token” migrants and participation in future relocation quotas.
In addition, Babis is incorrect to use Donald Tusk as an example of Visegrad’s position. While Tusk correctly labeled relocation a failure (he later adjusted his statement after pressure from Angela Merkel), he was referring to the viability of future programs, not the initial program involving the court procedure. Tusk fully supports the current lawsuit.
Moreover, it is not up to Donald Tusk to decide the migration policies of sovereign nation states, nor who Hungary admits to their nation. Babis must also understand that this issue is not about whether relocation works efficiently or not. It is purely an issue of “internal security” – which must be determined by the elected representatives of national governments. Security is not an item to be “negotiated” with Brussels.
Eighteen months is a long time and Babis is shaky. Unlike Morawiecki, Babis is not yet sure of himself on the international stage. He can be swayed either way.
On the other hand, the new government in Austria has taken a strong position against the quotas. In our opinion, both Sebastian Kurz and Morawiecki command more respect in Central-Eastern Europe than either Babis or Fico. Many others in the region, including Croatia and some of the Baltic states, seem reluctant to embrace any additional mandatory relocation schemes. The tide is turning.
This will be quite the battle in 2018 over migration that pits Western Europe vs. Central Europe. We suspect that the opinions of Kurz and Morawiecki will have much more influence with the leaders of the CEE states, including Babis, than the EU Parliament or Guy Verhofstadt’s radical crew at ALDE.
Andrej Babis may not be the most principled leader, but he is a pragmatist and even he may see where the future is headed.
We believe Angela Merkel has been severely weakened and we never bought into the media hype of Emmanuel Macron. While Germany will certainly maintain influence, the EU dream of a new “Merkel-Macron Era” to lead Europe is dead.
The future leaders of Europe will not reside in Paris or the Netherlands (Rutte) but in Warsaw, Vienna and Budapest.
Babis will also have to face the reality at home. The Czechs do not care what Guy Verhofstadt and ALDE believe and they remain overwhelmingly opposed to the migrant quotas. They realize that once the door is opened, it may never close and are well-aware of the consequences of Sweden’s decision to embrace EU solidarity on migration. Once flooded, it may already be too late.
Babis once said that he would not accept any migrants: “After what has been happening in Europe, I say clearly that I don’t want even a single refugee in the Czech Republic, not even temporarily.” He later added that sanctions could not be imposed over quotas, which he dismissed as “senseless and absurd”.
“And even if they came, then the Czech Republic should fight the European Commission’s decision and sue it over possible sanctions.”
Babis already has a “trust” issue with many Czechs. He would be very wise to keep his word.