At the beginning of May, the Czech Government published the following information: “The Czech Republic will join the pan-European public consultations initiative as proposed by the French President Emmanuel Macron. The series of citizen debates about specific aspects of the European integration will be formally launched at La Fabrika on 10th May with the participation of the prime minister Andrej Babiš and the French minister Nathalie Loiseau.”
In 2017, we founded a local Czech branch of the pan-European movement Pulse of Europe. We work on building civic support to the European integration and awareness about the EU. We were long aware of the President Macron’s project and considered it highly important for Europe. We also welcomed the decision to hold the consultations also in Czechia. Given the “euroskeptical” reputation of our country, we believe it is absolutely crucial to discuss EU’s future with citizen’s direct participation.
Pulse of Europe reached out to the Czech government to gain more information on the planned consultations. We were particularly interested in understanding whether and how the government planned to ensure opinion plurality of the debate panel, who will be invited, whether opposition and alternative views will be represented and how the event will be advertised among Czech citizens. We received no answer. We also asked for public information that we could use to spread public awareness about the initiative – to no avail again.
Eventually, the government sent an e-mail announcing the first event on 10th May to selected people. Pulse of Europe was not among them but we learned about it through the EU-oriented news portal Euroskop. Based on this information, we launched our own campaign encouraging citizens to register and participate in the consultation.
Unfortunately, dominant part of citizens that contacted us and actually applied for the event received no answer to this day. We also learned that the government has no intention to issue press accreditation or even publish a press release about the consultations.
This approach raises an unfortunate suspicion that the promise given by the Czech prime minister in resignation Andrej Babiš to President Macron will be fulfill just formally and there is no intention for initiating actual wide public debate on the future reforms of the EU.
As a spokesman of Pulse of Europe – Czech Republic, I note: „We believe that the prime minister in resignation and his government they intend to use the public consultations only to gain political capital for prime minister Babiš. We condemn that opposition has no representation in the panel discussion. We condemn that the event is not effectively advertised among Czech citizens. We condemn that access of general public is hindered. We believe that discussion over the future of Europe needs to open and honest. We intend to protest against the chosen approach and demonstrate to Europe and France that the „public consultations“ are used for particular political interests instead of opening a true national debate.“
In case you want to voice your opinion with us, we would like to invite you to a public protest in front of the La Fabrika club on 10th May at 16.30.