EU, Britain should keep closest possible relations - Czech PM

26.10.2016 11:00

Prague, Sept 15 (CTK) - The EU and Britain should keep the closest possible mutual relations even after Britain's departure from the EU, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said during the question time in the Chamber of Deputies today.

He said the Czech Republic mainly focuses on keeping conditions for Czechs on the British labour market equal with those the British enjoy in the Czech Republic.

"Neither I nor the Czech government will be among those who would call for the British to pay dear for it [Brexit]. I think this is not an approach we should take," Sobotka said in reaction to Simeon Karamazov, a lawmaker for the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats (ODS).

He spoke for the broadest possible use of the EU's four fundamental freedoms, i.e. the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

"We will insist on reciprocity. If we give an advantage to the British in relation to the EU, we would want an advantage or preference also to be provided for the EU. We need the relationship to be balanced," Sobotka said.

He said the maintenance of close relations between the EU and Britain is important for economic as well as security reasons.

Britain has not yet officially announced its departure from the EU based on the June Brexit referendum result.

Sobotka said he expects London to do so at the turn of this and the next year. Afterwards, concrete conditions of Brexit will be negotiated for two years at least, he said.