A group of high-profile experts on European policy, advisors and former deputy foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four has sent an open letter to leading figures of the EU with recommendations concerning Central Europe, the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI), which prepared the letter with Polish think tank demosEuropa, informed the TASR newswire on September 30.
The letter was sent to new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, new European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. It contains recommendations for Brussels institutions vis-a-vis central Europe over the next decade.
“The next five years will be a test for Europe,” the letter reads. “Enormous expectations have been put on your leadership. You can find allies in Central Europe for building a competitive and open EU.”
The signatories identified five main spheres that will be crucial for the further development of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland). These include a common energy policy that should be viewed as an inseparable part of the EU’s growth strategy, with the goal of introducing a joint energy market stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea and eastern Mediterranean, and a reduction of energy dependency on Russia.
The V4 countries also highlighted digitalisation and innovation. The signatories noted that Central Europe has significantly contributed towards the competitiveness of the entire EU, but it must now move forward to a growth model based on innovations. This must include ensuring better access to funds for small and medium-sized companies and creating an appropriate financial environment for start-ups. The experts also stressed the need to develop cross-border transport infrastructure in the region and to support the internal market, including via the free movement of labour.
The signatories further called on the top EU representatives to do everything they can to promote Ukraine’s successful transformation. They also stated that the process of accession talks with countries of the Western Balkans should not be sidelined.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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1. Oct 2014 at 10:00