Kolář: the EU is a unique area of security and prosperity

31. 5. 2024

What did you do when the Czech Republic joined the EU?

I was in my early twenties when we joined the EU. I was studying in Dublin at Trinity College and was slowly realising that everything would be easier from now on. And having campaigned for and against our entry in Ireland for four years before that, I was delighted that it had worked and that we were finally back where we belonged.

When did you first feel that membership affected you personally?

Probably when I went to the international regatta in Ghent, Belgium, that same year. Suddenly I could line up at the airport in the "faster" line. That was an immediate and very quickly perceived change.

And how do you see it today?

Today I am a proud Czech and a proud European. The Czech Republic has managed to earn its place in the EU over the past twenty years. And not only thanks to the successful recent presidency, but also thanks to respect. We have learnt to take advantage of our membership, and although we are one of the most Eurosceptic countries, I think that only a few fools, Nazis and Pitomio want to leave the EU. The Czech Republic is perhaps learning to find its self-confidence and realise that it is not a small insignificant country thanks to EU membership.

What would you miss most if we were not in the EU?

I would miss not being able to co-determine the future of Europe, to take an active part in its direction, and I would be terribly frustrated that things are happening without us, that we are becoming an isolated space in the heart of Europe, lagging behind in everything. That is how we are directly involved in what is happening and what will happen. We would then all be missing out on economic benefits and money. Whether one is a fan of the EU or not, there are indeed economic benefits for everyone. There would be less work, it would be more expensive, we would be a poor periphery with all the trimmings.

Is there anything that bothers you about the EU or Czech membership in the EU?

What I regret is that in the 20 years we have been in the EU, we have not managed to make people understand what our membership actually means. On the contrary, those who swear by the "dictates from Brussels" have managed to get maximum attention and have turned the Czech Republic into not only an extremely Eurosceptic state, but also a stowaway for a long time, who likes to receive but does not like to contribute. Fortunately, this is changing. We have a lot to give. We have great scientists, excellent industry, a hard-working population... we just have to know how to use it and not listen to the few lunatics who are playing their own tricks on Euroscepticism.

What are you looking forward to and what are you worried about in connection with the upcoming elections?

It's a cliché, but I'm mainly looking forward to meeting more people during the campaign and discussing our place in Europe with them. But I'm also looking forward to confronting the disinformers, the pro-Russian trolls and anyone who will explain to me that the EU is stealing our sovereignty, our nationality, that it is oppressing us, destroying us or making us a colony. I am looking forward to refuting all this nonsense with very simple arguments.

Why is it right to vote for the EP together?

Because one of the mottos of the European Union is 'Unity in Diversity'. And the SPOLU candidate fulfils this slogan perfectly. It is diverse, with different currents that have learned to flow, act and work together. That is what the European Union is all about.

What is the EU for you in one single sentence?

A unique space of security and prosperity. There is nowhere else, everywhere else we would be poorer.

Ondřej Kolář