LANCUT, Poland (AP) — Central European nations need to do more to stop their young people from emigrating in search of better jobs while also protecting European unity, Poland’s leader said Friday as he opened a two-day summit of the region’s presidents.
President Andrzej Duda was joined in the 17th-century palace in Lancut, in southeastern Poland, by Andrej Kiska of Slovakia, Czech Republic’s Milos Zeman and Hungary’s Janos Ader.
The four EU countries make up a group known as the Visegrad Four, which is increasingly united in opposing an EU proposal that would mandate quotas for the number of migrants member nations take in.
Instead, the group has proposed “flexible solidarity,” in which each member offers the kind of assistance to refugees and migrants that it can best afford.
The group, especially Poland and Hungary, have also criticized some other decisions taken in Brussels and often stress national interests above the general concerns of the 28-nation bloc.
Discussing the young people who have left Central Europe under EU free passage rules, Duda said they should be offered opportunities that will keep them in their home countries.
“We must stop the wave of emigration … that makes so many talented, creative young people leave our countries,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of Poles have left to go to Britain or Germany or elsewhere in Europe for high-paying jobs since Poland joined the EU in 2004.
Duda also noted that the four nations have discovered that “together we can achieve more,” but still their ambition is to protect European unity, with equal chances for every member.
“We don’t want a union of better and worse countries, of those stronger and those weaker,” he said.
On the second day of the meeting, in nearby Rzeszow, the presidents will be joined by European Commission officials and EU Parliament representatives for talks on energy security.