Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus has flatly rejected a proposal by EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso for a major transformation of the European Union into a "federation of nation states", according to Czech press reports.
It is the first time that the leader of an EU country has publicly opposed Barroso's suggestion, made in a State of the Union address to the European Parliament Wednesday (12 September).
Klaus was invited by the website Novinky to comment on Barroso's speech in Strasbourg. He said: "I firmly reject the idea presented by José Barroso," adding: "The only thing I appreciate in his proposal is that the current advocates of deeper European integration have for the first time openly admitted their real goals".
Klaus added that in 2004 his country joined the European Union, and “not a federation in which the provinces become meaningless”.
In his speech, Barroso stressed that in order to survive, the Union should evolve and agree on “a decisive deal for Europe” that would establish a “contract of confidence” between member countries, EU institutions, social partners, and the Union’s citizens.
The Commission President made it clear that his vision of a federation of member states was by no means a superstate, similar to the USA. He called it a “democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control their own destiny”.
Novinky asked Klaus whether the Czech Republic could join a federation like the one proposed by Barroso.
He responded: “Certainly not, on the contrary we should think about how to have our statehood and sovereignty restored. The European Union should be changed in the opposite direction to that proposed by Barroso. At the moment I write these lines, 61.8% of people responded in the poll on your web server, which was attended by 11,047 readers, that the Union is in decay. People like Mr. Barroso do not want to hear this”.
The website Novinky regularly posts online polls of its readers. The poll quoted by Klaus is no longer available and has been replaced by one asking readers if they can still afford to buy alcohol.
Klaus is a well-known eurosceptic, but many Czechs share his views. The Czech Republic was the last country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which only began after Klaus signed the ratification bill, following a ruling of the country’s Constitutional Court.