The European Union betrayed the Czech Republic  – and would betray the United Kingdom too


Prior to the forthcoming UK referendum on EU membership, the Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to negotiate better conditions for Britain´s membership – provided that the country remains in the EU. Will the EU meet its promises, however? 

The case of the failed opt-out for the Czech Republic shows how EU promises mean nothing. 

Cameron negotiated mere promises instead of a binding treaty

One of the main objections of British voters in relation to the European Union has been the influx of migrants from Eastern Europe and the EU’s continuous progression towards an “ever closer union”.

Therefore, in February, the British Prime Minister negotiated in the European Council to enable Britain to restrict the free movement of persons coming to the UK; also, that the country should no longer be subject to the principle of ever-closer integration.  Based on these negotiations, Cameron now calls on British electors to vote to remain in the EU.

But in fact, Cameron has received no legally binding agreement. 

He has only the promise that the EU treaties should be changed according to Britain´s requirements in the future.

With regard to the restriction of the free movement of persons, the European Council approved the following: “With regard to the future enlargements of the European Union, it is noted that appropriate transitional measures concerning free movement of persons will be provided for, in the relevant Acts of Accession to be agreed by all Member States, in accordance with the Treaties. In this context, the position expressed by the United Kingdom in favour of such transitional measures is noted.”

Regarding the principle of ever closer integration, the European Council agreed the following: “It is recognised that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the Treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union. The substance of this will be incorporated into the Treaties at the time of their next revision in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties and the constitutional requirements of the Member States, so as to make it clear that the references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom.”

( 2016-INIT/en/pdf)

However, to make these changes apply, ALL Member States would have to ratify them: the European Council has to fulfill the EU promise and incorporate these amendments into a future treaty.

So what does the experience of the Czech Republic tell us about the likelihood of this happening?

Promises to the Czech Republic not fulfilled

Let’s recall the situation before the adoption of the Lisbon treaty when the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, demanded an opt-out for the Czech Republic. Vaclav Klaus made his signing of the Lisbon Treaty conditional on an opt-out for the Czech Republic from the so-called Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. 

He then ratified the Lisbon Treaty only after the European Council agreed that the Czech opt-out would be added to the next Accession Treaty.

In October 2009, the European Council approved the following:

Taking into account the position taken by the Czech Republic, the Heads of State or Government have agreed that they will, at the time of the conclusion of the next Accession Treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, attach the Protocol.”  The agreed phrasing of the Protocol was as follows:  “Protocol No 30 on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to Poland and to the United Kingdom shall apply to the Czech Republic.


The Accession Treaty where the Czech opt-out should have appeared was Croatia’s accession treaty in 2012.  

The promised text was never added.  

György Schöpfli MEP from the ruling fraction EPP stated:  “The promise given to President Klaus was just a political gesture to ensure the approval of the Lisbon Treaty. We have here a political promise but with no real meaning. ” 

Dear British citizens, before you vote on remaining in or leaving the EU based upon promises given to you by the European Council, please think how the EU has betrayed the Czech Republic on a similar matter.

IMG_5450-9999x6666 Petr Mach is Czech Member of the European Parliament

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