Thursday, 16 August 2018

HN: Czexit would mean economic, civilisation loss for Czechs

ČTK |
7 February 2018

Prague, Feb 6 (CTK) - Czechs would pay dearly for it if they succumbed to the fantasists promoting the country's departure from the EU, as Czexit would definitely mean not only an economic but also huge civilisation loss for the Czech nation, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Tuesday.

No one exactly knows what a possible Czexit would look like, what Prague would achieve in the negotiations and which of its privileges it would manage to preserve.

"The negotiating position of a departing country is always worse than that of the whole bloc, which the Brexit example shows. Moreover, it is clear that [the EU's] interest in reaching agreement with the Czechs would never be as strong as in relation to Britain," Czech MEP Pavel Telicka is quoted as saying.

A fresh study says Britain's wealth might be up to 8 percent lower in 15 years than without Brexit. This, however, says only little about the consequences of Czexit, since the Czech Republic's dependance on the European market is much stronger than Britain's. Exports to the EU make up to 84 percent of Czech exports, compared to Britain's 43 percent.

The Czechs would pay far more dearly than Britons for problems with access to the EU market, Honzejk points out.

The Czech Republic would get fatally poorer, though MP Vaclav Klaus Jr.'s emotional assertion after a terrorist attack abroad in 2016 that "the only chance [for Czechs] is to leave the EU and toughly protect their border even at the cost of getting one-third poorer" is probably too catastrophic, Honzejk writes.

Trade barriers would be imposed, administrative burden would increase, Czech companies' competitiveness would decline on the EU markets but also on the markets of the USA, Latin America and Asia, as Prague could hardly achieve as advantageous trade conditions with these markets as those the EU enjoys, Honzejk writes.

Furthermore, investments might flow away from the Czech Republic, since foreign investors want to operate on markets without barriers, and some Czech companies may leave the country for the same reason as well, Honzejk writes.

A study assessing the Czech Republic's ten years in the EU estimated that the number of the unemployed would have been 75,000 higher in the 10.5-million country without the single EU market.

"If the Czech Republic left the EU, our living standard would deteriorate, we would stop catching up with the West and start sinking. It would affect employees' wages as well as pensions," Telicka is quoted as saying.

The Schengen area of free movement of people, too, is linked to countries' EU membership. True, the non-EU Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are a part of it, but Prague's participation would be far from guaranteed in the case of Czexit, Honzejk writes.

A study completed for the Czech cabinet in 2016 said Czech exports would decrease by up to 7.7 billion crowns a year if border checks were reintroduced, which would cost another four billion crowns, Honzejk writes.

Civilisation losses may be even more devastating than the measurable economic loss, he continues.

Czechs would become Europeans of a lower category.

There is no guarantee for Czech students being further able to study abroad within the Erasmus programme like 70,000 Czechs who have joined it so far. By all means, studies abroad would become more expensive for Czechs.

There is no guarantee for Czech scientists being further able to join European projects. The development of Czech science would slow down simultaneously.

There is no guarantee preventing the outflow of brains from the Czech Republic, another wave of intellectual migration in the country's history, Honzejk writes.

Conditions for Czechs working and launching businesses in the EU would deteriorate, as would the protection of Czech customers, tourists and patients abroad.

Roaming would be reinstalled, raising the prices of Czechs' phone calls and data drawing in the EU.

The question is how Czexit, promoted by Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura, Vaclav Klaus Jr. as well as Vaclav Klaus Sr., a former Czech president, would benefit the Czechs, Honzejk writes.

Sure, Prague would become entitled to sovereignly decide not to accept any refugee in addition to the 12 refugees it previously accepted based on the EU quotas. Vegetable fat could be renamed back to "spread butter". And Czechs would have the right to invent even more complicated directives than those coming from Brussels, Honzejk writes.

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