The foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and the Netherlands agreed Thursday that the 2007-2013 EU budget should be adopted soon, but said details remain to be worked out. Svoboda also said his government would like to see the budget adopted before the end of Britain's rotating presidency of the EU at the end of this year. Budget talks collapsed at a June EU summit after Britain refused to give up its lucrative budget rebate without a solid promise to reform the EU's system of agricultural subsidies. The subsidies account for more than 40 percent of the EU's budget, while only 5 percent of Europeans work in agriculture.
Also, The Netherlands remained the EU's biggest net contributor, paying 0.44 percent more of its gross national income into EU coffers than it got back.
Speaking about the EU's transitional measure restricting access to the Netherland's labor market for workers from new member states, Bot said his government would analyze the situation by year's end. He said that while his country believes free movement of people is important, it is necessary to analyze "what consequences there would be for our labor situation," should the restrictions be lifted.
According to Svoboda, there are currently only about 1,500 Czechs working in the Netherlands. "The Czech Republic does not bring any problem to any labor market in the European Union," he said.
The Czech Republic joined the union last year, along with nine others, mostly post-communist countries. A.M.