Ten Years after the Czech Republic EU Accession

The paper focus in respect to the web page methodology on Czech political parties that successfully entered the European Parliament. To get a comprehensive analysis, we have aimed to target, how the parties and their representatives understand the EU. How has the European context changed in the Czech politics? How do the parties' leaders frame the issues relating to the EU integration? What are the most “hot topics” relating to the EU? In addition to this, we have collected and analyzed public given speeches during campaign; and lastly the analysis aims to show, how the so called integration commitment of the political has weakened over past decade. Profile of each party consists of following parts: analysis of TV Debate on the 10th anniversary of the accession of the Czech republic to the EU, individual election programs for the EP election as well as the outputs published by individual party candidates. In respect to the final results, we have focused only on those that successfully joined the EP.

The profiles are ordered according the elections' results (complete results table see here).

ANO 2011

As a relatively political movement, formed in a reaction to the unsatisfactory state of politics in the Czech Republic, ANO declares that it is focused on finding the solutions rather than promoting ideologies. As such, it is difficult to identify ANO’s place in the classic political spectrum. That applies also to its position to the European integration. Before the EP elections campaign, nobody really knew the position of the party in regard of EU matters. The program for the EP elections has rather pro-European tone. The party points to the common values and interests which European countries share from the global point of view. According to ANO, membership of the Czech Republic in a stable and economically successful EU is one of the most important Czech national interests. At the same time, ANO sees it as legitimate if some of the member countries do not take part in particular areas of the integration, e.g. the common currency. Given ANO’s domestic political priorities it is understandable that also on the European level the party emphasizes the need to solve the most urgent issues that have the biggest influence on the European citizens, i.e. especially economical and financial situation. On the other hand, the party claims that energy should not be wasted on creating “ideological constructs” (e.g. European constitution). Great emphasis is put on the fulfilling of the concepts of subsidiarity and proportionality. As the leader of the party Andrej Babiš stated in the TV debate, there is no need to change the treaties or deepen the integration while there are problems that need to be solved right now, like for example the environment, energy policy or demography.

ANO takes a positive stance towards the current setting of the EU immigration policy. The immigrants should be integrated to the society. In case of their successful integration the immigration could represent a way to deal with the phenomena of demographic decline. It is however necessary to cooperate with the countries of origin to coordinate the legal immigration and prevent the illegal one. ANO in general is in favour of enlargement, as long as the accessing countries fulfil all the criteria and adopt and implement all the EU legislation. According to their program, if the particular country is specific in terms of a great impact which its accession would have on the EU’s budget (a clear reference to the case of Turkey), there should be special conditions, including a special relations together with a longer transition period.

According to Babiš it is currently pointless to have a debate about the possible accession of the Czech Republic to the Eurozone. “Our current position is comfortable and we can choose if we will or will not accept the Euro. Why should we today exclude the possibility of accepting the Euro?” However, he expressed his doubts about the accession criteria: “It reminds me of our accession to the EU, when we were forced to adopt some norms and rules and later we found out, that they are not even fulfilled by the old member states. And today, for the sake of the accession to the Eurozone, we need to meet some criteria which, again, are not met by some of the countries that already are members of the Eurozone.”

The party’s candidates in the EP elections expressed more or less the same opinions and positions that can be found in the party’s program. ANO’s top candidate for the EP elections, a former member of the European Commission and lobbyist Pavel Telička, has expressed relatively pro-European opinions. According to them, something like a federalized Europe can develop in a long perspective, but it cannot be a goal of the process of integration.

Telička is in favour of accepting the Euro once the Czech Republic is prepared to do so. At the same time he thinks it is legitimate for the Czech Republic to wait for the Eurozone to solve its problems which were not there in the time of the Czech accession to the EU. When asked about the banking union and if it poses a threat to the national sovereignty, Telička gave a negative response. He sees it as a measure which has a future potential to pose certain limits to national economies, but at the same time has a benefit for its member states since it would force them to a certain level of responsibility in management of public finances.

In regard of the integration of immigrants, Telička believes that it should remain in the competences of national states. Conditions for acquiring a permanent residence in the member states of EU could be harmonised, however not to a level of an artificial re-distribution of people among the states. When asked about ANO’s membership in the political group ALDE and the compliance of its ideological background and positions on various issues with the other member subjects of the fraction, he expressed a hope for a plurality and willingness to decide according to himself rather than a coordinated position of the group.

Similarly as Telička, ANO’s second candidate for the EP elections, former diplomat and businessman Petr Ježek does not see the process of European integration as an ideological goal in itself but rather as a tool which helps the member states to adapt to changing global conditions. His priority in the European Parliament is a change of attitude of the Czech representatives, so that the interests of the country could be better promoted. “[As a MEP] you need to speak to the Czech government and other subjects and to know their positions and needs.“

ANO’s candidate number three, Dita Charanzová believes that current problems in financial, economic as well as security issues cannot be solved without a deeper integration. Similarly as Petr Ježek, she points to a big room for improvement when it comes to cooperation between the Czech politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, MEPs etc. to promote Czech interests.

Fourth ANO’s candidate, a former businesswoman Martina Dlabajová, wants to focus e.g. on reduction of bureaucracy and administrative burden or the using of EU subsidies in the Czech Republic. She herself claims she is a euro-optimist, but along with the advantages of the European integration emphasizes also the need to look at the unresolved issues and to take a “euro-realist” approach.

Koalice TOP 09 a STAN

The election manifesto of TOP 09, as well as its election campaign, strove to stress that “Europe – that's us, not them,” in other words, the main attempt of the pro-European TOP 09 was to present the Czech Republic as an inseparable part of the European community where the Czech Republic should be an active participant and play the role of a respectable partner. Generally speaking, in the campaign, the party asserted that European integration is a positive development and attempted to explain why (to what extent these efforts were successful is of course a matter for discussion). However, the fact that any change in the EU needs to be characterized by a bottom-up process that reflects the citizens' will, has been stressed by the party leader, Karel Schwarzenberg. When asked about further integration coupled by the change in the treaties setting EU's constitutional basis, he pointed out that “First, we need to convince our nations that further integration is both beneficial and necessary and only then we can discuss potential changes [in the treaties]. If we did it the other way around, we would again end up badly. When we are in a basic agreement where we want to go, a discussion about changing the treaties can begin.” Clearly, while TOP 09 perceives European integration as a positive development, the party seems to be rather cautious when it comes to any major changes in the EU's institutional set-up.

With regard to the crisis of the Eurozone, which is an important theme of European integration also with regard to national identity, the TOP 09 manifesto says that “even though we are not yet members of the Eurozone, we [the party] are not indifferent to the problems that it is encountering.” TOP 09 supports Czech adoption of the Euro Plus Pact that would enable the Czech Republic to participate in the Eurozone summits. The Czech Republic is to adopt the Euro in principle, while the decision to take this step should not be subject to a referendum. On this account, the party leader Schwarzenberg says: “I believe that if we once confirmed a contract in which we gave an undertaking to do something, which we confirmed in a referendum, we now should not be attempting to change this, or we will not be a trustworthy country. Smaller countries, which we unfortunately are, has to insist on being trustworthy and reliable. Therefore I would be against subjecting the adoption of Euro to a referendum. There has already been such a referendum and we have decided we will adopt it [the Euro].” The timing of adoption of the Euro should be such that the Czech Republic is “ready” for it - when it is advantageous and when the situation in the Eurozone is stabilized.

In terms of other topics touched upon the party, there seems to have been a division of labor, with each candidate presenting a different theme, as will be shown below. This resulted in a highly personalized campaign, with the top candidates each presenting a different aspect of what the EU may represent. Interestingly, however, three of the four newly elected MEPs, even though running for TOP 09, are nonpartisan candidates, with the fourth one, Polčák, a member of the STAN movement (The Mayors and Independents) that formed a coalition with TOP 09.

Jiří Pospíšil is a political figure who after his split-up with ODS received not only the most preference votes from the TOP 09 list of candidates, but the greatest number of preference votes overall. In the context of the 2014 euro election, considering Jiří Pospíšil's long-term membership in the euroskeptic ODS, the most pressing question that comes to mind is this candidate's attitude towards the EU and his opinions about the EU integration. TOP 09 has been presenting itself as a pro-European choice – particularly so in the most recent EP election campaign, which meant that Jiří Pošpíšil had to answer a few unpleasant questions. He maintained that perceiving “Europe” as a very positive development, he never presented himself as anti-European and that even ODS membership is not unitary in its – what on the outside appears to be an anti-European – stance. As a recently elected MEP, he plans to take up the issue of Czech euroskepticism, work towards changing the citizens' perception of the EU and inform them about the benefits of membership: “We talk about lightbulbs and `pomazánkové máslo` [referring to the Czech butter spread affair], but nobody talks about the fact that in the last ten years, we have received 333 billion CZK and the fact that thanks to EU membership, our GDP has been rising more quickly than it would have without it and that our exporters do not have to pay customs duties. That's what we have to stress.” It's noteworthy that it was the same candidate who before his election as a MEP proclaimed the following: “I want to make sure that the EU does not go too far in the legislation process and does not attempt to protect citizens in areas where they do not care for it.” Interestingly, even a well-rounded candidate who in the end by far received the most preference votes did not escape the allurement of populism – because with a bit of exaggeration, the “Brussels nonsense,” besides amounting to everything that the Czech voters know about the EU, happens to also enshrine the single negative emotion they harbor with regard to the EU. It is fair to say, however, that Pospíšil's message to the electorate amounted to more than that and thus avoided the usual conflation of themes; he did explain his plans for the next term with regard to his main topics, which are judicial matters, particularly the issue of organized crime and money laundering, and tertiary education and international university exchanges.

From his expert position as an economist and building on his reputation for his long-term involvement in the Czech National Bank, Luděk Niedermayer, as the leader of the TOP 09 candidate list, presented the issue of the Euro to the Czech electorate and argued for the Czech accession to the Eurozone on behalf of the TOP 09 and STAN coalition (being an appeal aimed at a rather conservative section of the electorate, this statement could not go without the “when we are ready” postscript). A banking union, he stated in an interview, definitely does not present a threat to Czech sovereignty; it is a good project that reflects reality and is in accordance with Czech interests (good quality regulations being one of them). Besides presenting the issue of the Euro, Niedermayer framed his messages about the EU on both an emotional and rational level. In the campaign, he argued that “We are Europe; everything going on in there has an impact on us” and in response to the question “Why should we like `Ms Europe,`” he answers that “because she likes us, too.” At the same time, these arguments appealing to emotion are coupled with statements that appeal to reason: “We benefit from [EU membership],” (and with regard to membership in the Eurozone, a small, open economy, such as ours, will also benefit from it), Niedermayer argues. In interviews, he recognized the EU's deficiencies and stressed that “the Eurozone rules must be not only of good quality, but also respected and enforceable.” He envisions an EU that is functional, capable to react to various challenges and institutionally develops in an evolutionary manner, step-by-step. Niedermayer's stress on the status quo with regard to the EU's competencies and institutional set-up is evident; according to his opinion, any dramatic shift in competencies or towards a federalist superstate is out of the question, because it is an irrelevant topic. The process of integration is more important than the form of the final outcome, he states and, in accordance with Schwarzenberg argues that the ability to convince citizens and get their approval with the process is crucial. With regard to national identity issues, it is quite fruitful to consider what Niedermayer considers to be the threats and challenges that might in the near future shape the European Union and its competencies: Niedermayer mentions the energy policy field, environmental issues and developments such as Putin's Russia's actions toward Ukraine and EU's, which he considers to have been rather soft. Regarding the Schengen area and the thorny issue of immigration to the European Union, Niedermayer says this topic should be discussed and solved at the European level; the Czech Republic should not be in the position of the black passenger (or freerider), but rather take responsibility for a common solution.

In the EP election, Jaromír Štětina turned out to be a very popular candidate who as a result of preference votes gained one of the four seats despite his position as the fifth candidate on the TOP 09/STAN list. Interestingly, Štětina did not reflect upon the wide spectrum of issues that the EU covers, but rather stayed faithful to his experience as a reporter from Russia and built on his intimate knowledge of Russian politics and focused on the Ukrainian crisis. Štětina has for some time also presented himself as a human rights and democracy advocate; this he further developed in the campaign, as is demonstrated by his central theme: “In the EU, we can take advantage of our historical experience as a country of the former Soviet bloc. Independent media and the freedom of expression on the internet are the basic values of any modern, democratic country.” These two themes combined in the Ukrainian crisis, which presented an opportunity for Štětina to truly turn this topic into his niche.

Finally, Stanislav Polčák's main message was the following: “The EU budget has to be restricted and the expenditures must be efficiently devoted towards increasing the economic growth and the creation of new jobs, particularly in regions most affected by long-term unemployment.” Besides Polčák's focus on economic issues that is clear from his statement, however, little can be said about his activities, as his campaign was not taken up as strongly as that of the candidates mentioned above and therefore turned out to be rather indistinctive.

ČSSD

As the country’s most significant political party on the left, the Social Democrats have always had a rather positive stance towards the European integration. In their program for the EP elections, the social democrats unsurprisingly focused on the social dimension. They conceive the issue rather internationally, i.e. they do not put much emphasis e.g. on the need to strengthen the position of the Czech Republic as such.

In the TV debate, the leader of ČSSD Bohuslav Sobotka pointed to the importance of fighting the democratic deficit in the decision making on the European level. „For the Social Democrats it is important that next integration steps are not burdened by the democratic deficit. That is why we think that the following EP elections bring a great opportunity to decide also about the composition of the European Commission.“ Later he mentioned that „[revision of the primary law of the EU] is one of the potential ways to eliminate the democratic deficit from the perspective of next development and functioning of the EU.“ According to Sobotka, continuing integration is a logical reaction in order for Europe to keep a position in the current world. At the same time is of crucial importance to fulfil the principle of subsidiarity.

Sobotka also said that the accession of the Czech Republic to the Eurozone has been decided in the referendum about the accession to the EU in 2003 and that it is a task for the government and parliament to set the date of accepting the common currency, once the optimal conditions are met. In Sobotka’s opinion, the common currency will be beneficial for Czech economy.

Cooperation on the social issues on the European level is important also for the top candidate of the ČSSD, Jan Keller, who stated that without integration in the social policy, the political integration lacked sense. He pointed to a currently running process of social disintegration in Europe – the power elites began to lose their legitimacy in the eyes of European citizens. One of the conditions necessary for the modern society is a social cohesion. On the European level that can be achieved e.g. through harmonisation of corporate taxes or introduction of a financial transaction tax.

One of the top issues for him is the unemployment in all of the member states which should be reduced. When asked about the worst scenario possible for the EU in the following period of 5 years, he named rise of extreme right parties and their nationalist or even racist tendencies.

Keller believes that competences of the EP should be strengthened in the field of finances and it should acquire the right of legislative initiative. What should be reduced is the role of lobbyists.

Olga Sehnalová, the ČSSD’s candidate number two, agrees that the European Parliament should seek to strengthen its role as a legislative body and to be more respected from the side of the Council of the EU. The main challenges faced by the EP in the following 5-year period are lowering the level of unemployment, finishing the project of banking union and harmonisation in the fields of social policy, like e.g. introducing the minimal wage.

Given that decision making on the level of the EU is based on creating consensus or searching for majority positions in the Council, Sehnalová claims that it is a task for individual member states to make the process more transparent.

Czech Republic can contribute e.g. by an active and cooperative approach to stabilization in the broader region of Central Europe.

Pavel Poc has been a MEP already in the previous legislative period. His main fields of interest have been agriculture and ecology. He wants to continue in his work also in the next 5 years. He focused also on the agreement between EU and USA about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which he sees as problematic in some aspects.

Another ČSSD’s candidate in the EP elections, Miroslav Poche, emphasizes the need for European Union to have a working common foreign and security policy which can ensure that the EU will strengthen its position in the world. He is strongly in favour of enlargement of the EU as regards countries of former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and later Bosnia and Herzegovina). Being generally rather pro-European, he criticizes the EU policy of employment and cohesion which need to be improved.

KSČM

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia generally supports a greater degree of European integration, but warns against rightist power elites, financial groups and European bureaucrats that present a threat to the European integration project and regional and social disparities, national egoism and xenophobia that present a threat to democracy. Its election manifesto for the EP election in 2014 highly resonates with the manifesto of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left bloc to which it is a member party. Even though its stances are internationalist and pro-European, however, it is important to point out that the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia perceives the integration project as based on a different set of assumptions. While so far, European integration has been dominantly a negative process in the sense of creating a single market and removing barriers to free market of any form, KSČM argues for a more social Europe that would ensure greater social, economic and cultural rights for European citizens and protect the environment - in other words, KSČM supports positive integration and strives to build Europe that is socializing. This view of support for integration is consistent with the party leader's assertion that “the federalization of Europe is not the goal the Czech Republic should have.” Another point about the party's perception of integration has to be made, however. The party leader, Vojtěch Filip, despite presenting a pro-integration agenda, stresses that the integration process is not positive or negative, but rather “objective:” “In a globalized world it is impossible to avoid integration, because integration is necessary … The Czech Republic would in the European space look strange [if it did not integrate], because it has neither bank reserves, as Switzerland, nor other advantages. Our integration is to a large extent shaped by the fact that there is no other option for European states than to find its place, retain its national identity, if you will, because state sovereignty is now shared. The problem is to what extent are middle size countries, such as the Czech Republic, heard.” Integration, thus, is inevitable and Filip seems to be suggesting that in the context of this inevitability, EU member states can't do much more than to do their best to maintain their national identity - which, however, is in the party manifesto mentioned only in the context of rising egoism against which KSČM warns.

The right to work for a fair remuneration, shorter working hours without the lowering of the pay, widely available education and healthcare and dignity for seniors in all EU countries, equal food quality and safety for comparable prices, consumer protection, protection of privacy and freedom of information, as well as internet without censorship are among the issues KSČM raised and defended in the campaign. However, the candidates themselves did not take up or develop these issues individually further.

Filip also stresses the need for democratizing European processes: “We are for improving democratic procedures, that is change and departure from the democratic deficit, meaning that we need to open the treaties.” This position is also reflected in the short version of the election manifesto: strengthening democracy is mentioned along with equal opportunities and the protection of all human rights is mentioned as the first point.

Thought the Communist Party's candidates have conducted a campaign that mostly took the form of meetings with potential voters, little can be found out about their individual specializations or personal opinions on European integration. A brief look at two candidates is provided below, though it cannot be said that in the case of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, this “zooming in onto the individual candidates” brings any additional insights beyond the “We want Europe for people” slogan. It is an interesting venture nevertheless.

The leader of the ballot, Kateřina Konečná, published a letter to her voters that stresses the importance of the European vote. She says that if people do not go to the polls, they “provide an opportunity for other parties, such as extreme asocial rightist parties … and that it strengthens the extremes, be they excessively euroskeptic or excessively euroactivistic voices, which is never good, because either way it cannot benefit the Czech Republic and its position in Europe.” The matters at stake are ones that “will fundamentally influence the Czech market or the supply/offer and prices of Czech goods or food.” Voters should cast their ballot for the Communist party because it “is ready to defend the interests of the Czech citizens” and will “attempt to change the direction of European politics.” However, what her personal aims or ambitions in the European Parliament the voter does not know.

Miloslav Ransdorf, on the other hand, with his “Revolution has number four” slogan had a more distinctive personal campaign, though this does not necessarily indicate more substance. Having received the second largest number of preference votes cast for KSČM, he was voted into the Europarliament as one of the three KSČM candidates despite being only number four on the ballot. His view of what may be constituting European identity is hinted in his “Hobbies” section on his personal website. Firstly, he states his interest in painting, literature, but above all music. In the various listed European composers “perhaps the European soul bloomed the most” and the same, he says, applies to literature. “European soul,” according to him, “exists in national rendering [portrayal/depiction] and in plurality.” In terms of the various issues in his own election manifesto, he fails to move beyond very general and succinct catchwords that have their parallels in the party manifesto. He “says no” to the following matters (that are may be relevant to the issue of national identity): the putting of some nations above others in the EU, the rising bureaucracy, the pressure of superpowers on other states, unsubstantiated military missions and foreign military posted in a state.

KDU-ČSL

Contrary to other parties, KDU emphasises the sense of belonging in the election manifesto. It meas that party perceives a logical line between belonging to local community – region – state. The party does so not stressing the Czech national identity, but focusing on individual “roots”; such as family, solidarity, or conservative values as such. Right these logical ties between territorial understood sense of belonging and conservative values should the party perceives as a basic ground for individual policy fields. Surprisingly, KDU openly advocates for asserting of Czech national interests. In this respect, the party sees the EU as an arena for promoting of national interests. Unfortunately, the further definition is missing.

The perception of national identity has been oscillating between stressing of national interests and the EU deeper integration. Even if the party in long term perspective supports the EU integration as well as the idea of the Euro zone joining. Nevertheless, it is evident that party stress “national interest” within party's outputs in to some extend while support the EU integration. This tension is clearly visible in speech given by party leader, Pavel Bělobrádek. During the TV debate he told that “even if the EU is developing, still, the membership has still many positive aspects for the Czech Republic; therefore we are obliged to full fill the requested conditions and to be a part of the Eurozone. The reason for that is, from Bělobráek's perspective, clear – to be part of monetary union that is used in region to that the Czech Republic has natural ties.

ODS

The following statement can be found on the party's website and in a nutshell aptly expresses how ODS approaches European integration: “ODS holds that the nation-state has proven to be a good tool for the free development of national identity. Only such state can serve the interests of Czech citizens: the continuing transatlantic cooperation and European integration on the basis of free movement of people, goods, services and capital. ODS will always refuse the federalization of the EU, the erosion of further national competencies, and the creation of a European superstate. Potential adoption of the Euro is not on today's agenda and will become relevant only when the advantages for Czech citizens outweigh the disadvantages.”

ODS has been presenting itself as the party that expresses a dissenting opinion when it comes down to European matters, one whose duty it is to present the critique people do not want to hear. Or at least that's the impression one gets from the election manifesto for the 2014 EP election: “In the European arena, we are not afraid to stand up against the majority formed by the EPP and the S&D that proceeds in deepening European integration without much regard for the disagreement of the majority of European citizens and nation-states.” It must be said that in the Czech context, ODS has been, especially so recently, largely perceived as having conflated its critique to a rather populist euroskeptic outlook. What ODS claims to be preaching, however, is eurorealism, which, along with a call for reform of the EU and a return to economic liberalism, is the founding idea behind the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, whose foundation ODS co-initiated. After the 2014 elections, it has become the third-largest group in the European Parliament.

Although in the context of the EP election campaign, the message of ODS was reduced to a resolute “no to the Euro” (coupled with the launching of “The Petition for the Crown” and a demand for a referendum) and a call for the cancellation of the EP's Strasbourg seat - which translated only to two seats in place of the original nine mandates during the 2009-2014 term - its work and influence exerted in the ECR group beyond it must be praised.

The vision of European integration ODS proposes is the following: the EU should be “a flexible, economically open, and enlarging entity, which would lead to the conception of a `flexible` or `variable` integration” - the opposite of a European unitary superstate. Petr Fiala, the leader of ODS, adds: “We have a very realistic attitude in the sense that we agree with the path that some of the member states - headed by the Great Britain - have chosen, which is the path of `the loosening up` of the treaties, so that some policy fields can be approached in a different manner.” This approach would entail “some states having a more relaxed approach to some policy fields.” According to the manifesto, this consideration is behind why the party has been opposed to all initiatives that would in the future lead to a fiscal or tax union, such as the Fiscal Compact: “In the hands of the European bureaucrats, these would become but another step in the creation of a political union and as such would rid the Czech government of the authority to flexibly react to domestic and world economic situation and thus ensure the prosperity of the Czech Republic.”

On the account of the Euro, Fiala argues that ten years ago, when the Czech Republic agreed to the adoption of the Euro as part of the Accession Treaty, the situation was completely different from today. Nowadays, the adoption would be “considerably disadvantageous for the Czech Republic and its citizens … and citizens have the right to decide about these matters. I'm not a supporter of the referendum, but this is a fundamental matter that will have serious repercussions for every citizen … that they should say … whether they want it or not.”

It can be said that Jan Zahradil, the leader of ODS ballot for both the 2009 and 2014 EP elections and an active official in the ECR group has for some time personified the party's activities in the EU. As such, not much more can be said about his views of the EU, European integration, etc., which applies also to the second MP elected, Evžen Tošenovský, who also generally strictly follows the party line.

Strana svobodných občanů (SSO)

The Free Citizens Party defines itself as the most eurosceptic political subject in the Czech Republic. Their campaign focused on identifying the absurd regulations that the EU imposes on the member states and their citizens.

The party advocates for the key role the national state and its sovereignty as a result of historical continuity and philosophical idea. “A state which is not sovereign is not a state.” The principle of sovereignty also means that a state is the only source of law upon its territory. Sovereignty according to the Free Citizen’s Party is a concept bearing not only politic and legal dimension but also a psychological and philosophical one and it is linked with respect to “collective archetypes”. Promoting of national interests must be the main purpose of foreign policy. Multilateral policy is only a supplement of the bilateral one.

With regard to the EU the Free Citizen’s Party speaks about “undemocratic conditions” and about attempts to eliminate traditional European values like liberty, democracy, human dignity, plurality, political responsibility and democratic control of public affairs. Europe needs to come back to the system of sovereign national states. Europe does not need to be unified and centralized in order to succeed under current world economical, political and military conditions - OECD and WTO provide a sufficient space for economic cooperation beyond borders. The same applies to the issue of European defense which should be managed on the basis of NATO. The party supports a withdrawal of the Czech Republic from the EU.

Leader of the party, the most visible of its members and its first candidate for the EP elections Petr Mach holds practically the same positions and opinions that are stated in the program. In an article he published, dealing with the issue of the Czech Republic and the common currency, he argues that the Czech Republic should try to negotiate an exception from the treaties. “I am of the opinion that rather than to seek a monetary integration of disparate areas which would damage them and then to save them with money of foreign taxpayers, it is better to keep one’s own currency”. Making accession to the Eurozone a voluntary step is Mach’s top priority as a MEP.

Shortly after the EP elections Mach announced his plan to stay in the Czech Republic and participate only on the plenary parliamentary sessions in Strasbourg, i.e. to not take part in the work of parliamentary committees in Brussels. “It is a question of mental health to stay in the Czech Republic and keep one’s civil profession. [Being a full/time politician] leads to the detachment from reality that we see very often.”