Czech President Klaus: The crisis in Europe did not come as a surprise to me

Autor: odjinud | Publikováno: 14.11.2011 | Rubrika: English

Interview of the President for the Croatian Globus Weekly

Globus: Mr. President, I suppose the Czech Republic is quite happy to be outside the eurozone now. But, still, how do you asses the situation? It is said that the next few days or weeks will be crucial for euro as a project. How do you feel about it? Were you surprised when the collapse started?

VK: I would not talk about a collapse, but about a serious crisis. The crisis in Europe did not come as a surprise to me and it does not relate to the eurozone only. It is a crisis of the whole model of European integration which has become dominant in Europe since – at least – the mid-1980s.

The Czech Republic’s entry into the eurozone is not the issue of the day. The issue of the day is whether or not the eurozone will survive in its current form. I suppose it will survive but am afraid of the price which will be paid by all of us because the proposals to solve the situation by more governance at the EU level can only prolong and worsen the crisis.

Can the euro failure - if the eurozone collapses - have consequences on the entire EU project? Can it endanger the political sphere of the integration? Is that dangerous - can the EU collapse as well?

The Economic and Monetary Union in Europe was established as a political project. It was hoped that the monetary unification will gradually spill over into fiscal union and, eventually, into political union. It is evident that the eurozone has never been an optimum currency area as defined by economic theory and that it originated as a political project with major problems from the very beginning, the crucial one being the heterogeneous economic parameters of its individual member states.

Where do you find the solutions? What should be done - politically and economically? You have not been an EU enthusiast. Why you did not share the euro-optimism as the most of the other EU leaders?

The first thing for most EU member states’ governments is to have the public debts under control, to prepare comprehensive spending reduction plans and forget flirting with solutions based on tax increases. Spending reductions must dominantly deal with mandatory expenditures.

The solution to the crisis of the whole model of European integration is in the return to intergovernmentalism, in the return to ambitions to liberalize, to open up, to remove all kinds of barriers which existed at the borders of European countries, to enable the free movement of goods, services, people and ideas across the European continent. Many EU politicians, however, propose the exact opposite: more centralisation of decision-making, more governance at continental level, more regulation. I do not support these proposals.

Who are the key players who should start the process of recovery and how? Do you yourself see the willingness and readiness within the EU to get out of the crisis and re-start the EU and/or euro project? Or would it be better just to drop the entire idea?

I see a tendency in the EU to muddle-through, to use more of the same “recipes” which caused the crisis. It would be better to change the course of European integration entirely but I don’t see a chance to do it now.

The key players should be the governments of the EU member states. Asking for better governance in the EU or for better leadership means asking for the continuation of the existing system.

Of course, enlargement is not the most interesting issue of the day, but will the current crisis influence that process, too? What about Croatia, we are soon to sign the Accession Treaty. Can the process be postponed? Some media in Croatia were mentioning the possibility that you might slow down our accession process? Was that ever on your mind and how do you comment on this?

The Czech Republic – together with me – does support the EU accession of Croatia, as well as further enlargement of the European Union. We do not want to create any obstructions.

There were some doubts whether the ratification of the Czech opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union could slow down the ratification of the Accession Treaty of Croatia but – as I said – we are interested in the successful ratification of the Croatian Accession Treaty. I hope it will not be slowed down by the EU’s preoccupation with itself and with its internal problems.

We have the elections, then we will sign the Treaty and then we have the referendum. If you were a Croatian citizen, would you vote yes or no? And how certain would you be in that decision given the circumstances Europe is in?

Every Croatian citizen is free to choose. It is a decision Croatia is to make for itself and by itself. My only advice is not to create exaggerated expectations and to stay realistic.

Bisera Fabrio, Globus, 4 November, 2011

Klíčová slova: capitalism  | EU  | euro
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