published: 13.02.2014, 16:06 | updated: 13.02.2014 16:14:14
Bratislava - The EU has been unable to eliminate tax havens and in some cases it has circumvented its own rules, new Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said in a speech delivered at Comenius University in Bratislava today.
Sobotka outlined his idea of a reformed European Parliament.
"There is the question of whether in the future the European Parliament should have more powers, whether its structure should be adapted to that of the U.S. parliament," Sobotka said, adding that the U.S. parliament has two houses with a differing composition.
In the Senate, each of the U.S. states has the same number of representatives, while the states are represented according to their population number in the House of Representatives.
Thanks to this a greater role of the European Parliament would not mean that some countries would be outvoted, Sobotka said.
In the debate in which he participated along with his Slovak opposite number, Prime Minister Robert Fico, Sobotka evaluated the Czech Republic's ten-year membership of the EU.
"It was a mistake that the EU has not been able to combat more intensively and resolutely such phenomena as tax havens right within the EU," Sobotka said.
He said the surviving differences between EU members was another weakness of the EU.
"Exceptions agreed on in the past have a permanent nature. Individual approaches of which the new EU members can only dream of were applied," Sobotka said.
Sobotka specifically spoke about the VAT rate and said the new Czech government would like to be granted an exception.
He criticised the earlier softening and circumvention of some rules, such as those relating to Greece.
On the other hand, the Czech Republic's real influence increased, Sobotka said, adding that Czechs were sitting at the negotiating table and no one decided about them without them.
Sobotka said the Czech Republic's EU entry had brought economic prosperity, an increase in the living standards and modernisation of the economy.
"The countries that are net recipients such as the Czech Republic should from time to time remind themselves of that the financial means flowing to our country from the European funds are the means of German, Dutch, French taxpayers," Sobotka said.
Sobotka said the questions of a better coordination of economic and budget policies, the maintenance of competitiveness, energy policy and EU expansion were great future challenges for the EU.
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