Prague - The Czech Republic has clearly benefited from its EU membership that brought an economic growth and bigger weight on the international scene to it, former Czech prime minister and European commissioner Vladimir Spidla (Social Democrats, CSSD) told CTK today.
The Czech Republic joined the EU on May 1, 2004.
Spidla said the Czech Republic had not been able to make a full use of EU benefits, partly due to eurosceptical governments that neglected the drawing of European funds.
"In my view, the decade is a success from the Czech Republic's viewpoint because basically we did not even notice that we were integrated," Spidla said.
"No technological and similar problems arose," Spidla said, adding that the Czech Republic's EU entry had brought a considerable economic impulse to it.
"The 6 percent growth rate simply would not have been without Europe," Spidla said, pointing out the GDP development in the years immediately after the EU enlargement.
"It also considerably strengthened the Czech Republic's position," said Spidla, Czech prime minister between 2002 and 2004 and European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities from November 2004 to February 2010.
He said he could see with his own eyes that "our importance rose ten times."
Spidla said he had clearly felt it not only in the talks with European politicians, but, above all, with those from outside Europe.
He said he could see few if any negative sides of the EU entry. It increased the Czech Republic's ability to influence its own fate.
"Speaking in general, I am unable to find any thing that would have worsened for this reason," he said, adding that he had tried to find it honestly.
Spidla said he had no objections even to what EU critics denoted as its excessive red tape.
"As a rule, when the alleged absurd regulations start to be analysed, one finds out that they do make sense," he said.
Spidla dismissed President Milos Zeman's frequent criticism of energy-saving bulbs.
"The bulbs seem to have saved one Romania in energy consumption in Europe," he added.
Spidla, now working as head of the advisor team of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), said he did not think the Czech Republic had brought much to the EU.
He said he was convinced that the EU should continue with its integration such as in the sphere of foreign relations and security policy.
"Undoubtedly, it would be right to push Europe to a sort of confederation or a sort of loose federation," Spidla said.
He said he could imagine such a development in the horizon of a single generation.