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Fiala Convenes Coalition Talks To Contain Row Over Appointment of “Euro Commissioner”

Czech PM Petr Fiala has convened a coalition consensus procedure at the request of one of the government parties, in response to yesterday’s decision by European Affairs Minister Martin Dvorak (STAN) to appoint a commissioner for adopting the euro, government spokeswoman Lucie Jesatkova told CTK.

She said the consensus procedure would also include a discussion on competences and the need for the five-party coalition to maintain a joint position on key political issues.

Dvorak yesterday appointed economist Petr Zahradnik as coordinator for the common currency, presenting him as his commissioner for joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) and adopting the euro. Coalition parties’ representatives agree that Zahradnik is formally the minister’s adviser.

Some government parties had begun discussing the restoration of the position of national coordinator for euro adoption, among other things, after President Petr Pavel’s New Year speech calling for moves towards the adoption of the common European currency. The most recent national coordinator for the adoption of the euro in the country was Oldrich Dedek, who occupied the post until 2017.

While the four smaller ruling parties, the Mayors and Independents (STAN), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 and Pirates, are in favour of the step, the senior government Civic Democrats (ODS) are against it.

The STAN movement said in a press release today that it had been seeking to fill the position since last April. STAN chair and deputy PM Vit Rakusan praised the move by Dvorak, and said STAN was doing everything possible to ensure that the Czech Republic meets the formal criteria for adopting the euro

“At the same time, however, there has long been a lack of a serious, balanced and substantive debate on the euro, its benefits and risks, and of an authority to moderate such a debate. Petr Zahradnik is such an authority,” said Rakusan.


EU member states must meet four criteria to join the eurozone area. These include: 

  • price stability: the country’s inflation rate must not exceed the average inflation rate of the three eurozone countries with the lowest price increases by more than 1.5 percentage points.
  • the long-term interest rate must be no more than 2 percentage points above the average of the three eurozone countries with the lowest inflation.
  • a maximum budget deficit of 3% of GDP and maximum debt ratio of 60% of GDP.
  • exchange rate stability: two-year membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II).

Zahradnik is an economist and analyst who specialises in the European Union. He is also a member of the Government National Economic Council (NERV) and is in the European Commission’s EuroTeam (DG ECFIN).

Dvorak noted in a press release that Zahradnik’s appointment was an effort to promote an expert debate on the benefits and risks of adopting the euro in society.

“The prime minister has convened coalition ‘consensus talks’ at the request of one of the coalition parties in response to Minister Dvorak’s unilateral move,” Jesatkova told CTK.

Chamber of Deputies Speaker and junior government TOP 09 leader Marketa Pekarova Adamova told CTK that the path towards the euro is not to have an adviser to one minister, but a government commissioner.

“However, the consensus procedure will not primarily take place because of Minister Dvorak’s euro adviser. It is primarily about the overall functioning of the coalition,” she said, adding that she sees the “Slovak scenario” as an important warning.

“Those who stirred up disputes, did not inform each other, and took actions purely for marketing, broke the government coalition and helped the return of populist and extremist forces. We do not want the STAN movement’s actions to lead to the same thing,” Pekarova Adamova said, referring to the Slovak coalition cabinet led by former PM Igor Matovic’s OLaNO, which was replaced by a cabinet led by Smer-SD after last autumn’s early general election.

Details of the consensus procedure are contained in the 2021 post-election coalition agreement between the Spolu alliance (ODS, Christian Democrats, TOP 09) and the Pirates with STAN. It was envisaged to be used for the preparation of major proposals, but also for finding a common coalition position in the event that an issue is not sufficiently addressed in the government policy statement or the coalition agreement. The consensus procedures are also intended to resolve any contradictions arising from the coalition agreement.

The consensus procedure shall be conducted at the level of the K15, consisting of the chairs and two other representatives of each of the five coalition parties. The conciliation procedure is reserved for the Coalition Council, composed of the five parties’ chairs and vice-chairs, the chairs of their groups in parliament and the chief manager.

Dvorak yesterday said that Zahradnik’s main agenda as commissioner should be to engage in expert discussions on the fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria and the future adoption of the common European currency, as well as monitoring and analysing the economic factors of joining the eurozone. Zahradnik will also cooperate in commenting on materials going to the government.

Political analyst Petr Kaniok said the appointment of the euro commissioner was procedurally wrong and once again confirmed that the position of the European Affairs Minister should not have been created in the first place as a non-systemic matter.

“In Czech European policy, the EU committee, and hence the prime minister, is responsible for its formulation,” Kaniok told CTK. “The EU minister has no place in the system that would allow him to formulate the essential elements of EU policy, which the position on the euro undoubtedly is, in such a decisive manner.” 

The minister is not supposed to take his own solo actions that are not based on the government’s consensus on what the Czech Republic wants in European policy, Kaniok added.

According to political analyst Josef Mlejnek, the step by Dvorak was primarily about election campaigning and creating a profile for STAN among voters. “The adoption of the euro is not realistic until the end of the election term anyway, so it is symbolic and therefore actually a campaign issue. In itself, it will not boost the government coalition, but as the election horizon approaches, there will probably be more and more such moves,” he said.

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