Heated Opposition to a More Integrated EU
As Western European leaders are calling for a stronger, more integrated European Union, some fear a Brexit-like move from the Visegrad Four.
On September 26, French President, Emmanuel Macron, gave a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris, addressing his vision for major changes in the E.U. Macron sees Europe as “too weak, too slow, too inefficient,” and believes that that the solution is greater policy integration. Macron’s plan: create a joint budget for Eurozone countries, establish a shared military force, harmonize taxes, and set an EU minimum wage.
Despite this vision of European interdependence and cooperation, there are growing anti-European sentiments among the countries of the Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. At the core of this issue are controversial views on refugee quotas. Citizens and political factions in these four Central- Eastern European countries, perceive the enforcement of quotas by Western European leaders- mainly Merkel and Macron- as an attack on their nation’s sovereignty and political freedom.
This month, Andrej Babis, a Czech populist billionaire and former Finance Minister, is predicted to win the upcoming election and become Prime Minister. Babis is running on a platform against additional EU integration and specifically, wishes to deport immigrants of Arab descent back to their country of origin. In Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński, chairman of the right-wing, leading party- Law and Justice- has strongly criticized Merkel’s policies on immigration and has been an outspoken critic of EU enforced refugee quotas. Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has also been hostile towards further EU integration, by challenging the EU court on several occasions regarding the mandatory settlement of refugees.
The likely election of Babis in the Czech Republic will embolden Orbán in Hungary and Kaczyńsk in Poland to continue challenging the legislation of the European Union. Although the withdrawal from the EU is a possibility, it is unlikely. However, Brexit was unexpected.
Eastern and Central European political platforms of EU separatism fueled by nationalist populism are not merely pieces of election rhetoric, but warning signs of possible future policy decisions.
*Note on Monday 10/9 Andrej Babis was officially charged with subsidy fraud