Czech Republic: Has Prague strayed too far from the herd?
5 March 2012
By being the only country, along with the United Kingdom, not to sign the European Budget Pact on March 2, “is the Czech Republic returning to a no man's land?” wonders Tomáš Sedláček in Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny. The economist notes that his country is not very enthusiastic about greater European integration. This, he says, demonstrates “a lack of vision concerning its economy, its state and Europe”.
“The position of Prime Minister Petr Nečas, according to which the budget pact benefits none of us, sums up our position towards the Union: take but do not give,” Tomáš Sedláček writes. Yet, he notes that -
After 1989, Czechoslovakia, followed by the two states which emerged from it, had a single international priority: to get out of the ‘zone’, away from what was left after the implosion of the USSR. We joined the OECD, NATO and the EU to clearly signify on which side we belonged.
But for another economist, Pavel Kohout, also writing in Hospodářské Noviny, the Czech “no” to European budget regulations does not represent a risk to the country. “The treaty does not solve any of the issues linked to the euro crisis,” he argues, adding that it “may help to smooth the way for fiscal harmonisation”. But, while this might be appropriate for France and Germany, harmonisation would be devastating for Czech competitiveness.
Quietly trotting with the herd means paying for the errors of others, such as French or German bankers, for example. Only those that create problems have anything to gain.
Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who backs the budget pact, for his part warned that the Czech Republic is making a strong bid for marginalisation but could still reverse its decision later this year or next year.