All the V4 countries aspired to become members of the EU, perceiving their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. They reached this aim on May 1, 2004 when they all became EU members.
The V4 cooperation can currently be referred to as the most clearly profiled initiative in Central Europe. The backbone of this cooperation consists of mutual contacts at all levels from the highest-level political summits to expert and diplomatic meetings, to activities of the non-governmental associations in the region, think-tanks and research bodies, cultural institutions or numerous networks of individuals.
Cooperation between the respective ministries constitutes an important part of the activities within the V4 framework, whether at the level of the ministers or in the form of joint expert teams. A number of joint projects are currently being implemented particularly in the fields of culture, environment, internal security, defence, science and education. At the same time, cooperation in the field of justice, transportation, tourism, energy or information technologies is also intensifying.
The V4 was formed on February 15, 1991 at a meeting of the President of the former Czechoslovak Republic, Václav Havel, the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Wałęsa, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary József Antall. This high-level meeting in Visegrad, Hungary, created an imaginary historical linking with a similar meeting, which took place at the same place in 1335 and was attended by John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, Charles I of Anjou (Charles Robert), King of Hungary, and Casimir III, King of Poland. The central motive of the two meetings was the desire to intensify mutual cooperation and friendship among the three Central European states.
Official web pages: http://www.visegradgroup.eu/
The V4 operations are based solely on the principle of periodical meetings of the Member States' representatives on all levels (prime ministers, heads of states, ministers, experts, etc.). Official prime ministerial summit takes place on an annual basis. Between these official summits, usually in June each year, one of the V4 countries holds presidency over the group. The Presidency of the V4 countries rotates after one year.
Presidencies of the V4 for the period 2015 – 2018:
2014/2015 – Slovakia (July 2014 - June 2015)
2015/2016 – Czech Republic (July 2015 – June 2016)
2016/2017 – Poland (July 2016 – June 2017)
2017/2018 – Hungary (July 2017 – June 2018)
2018/2019 – Slovakia (July 20168 – June 2019)
CZECH V4 PRESIDENCY
The Czech V4 Presidency (CZ V4 PRES) aimed to concentrate on keystone themes having a specific practical impact. This translated into narrowing down the agenda according to the current objectives and needs. That was the only way to avoid the risk of exchanging the mutual cooperation quality for its quantity.
The CZ V4 PRES programme intended to expand cooperation in areas where joint efforts may bring tangible results and thereby reinforce trust in the V4 cooperation as well as among the V4 partners themselves. The programme continued to be based on the document “Guidelines on the Future Areas of Visegrad Cooperation” (the Kroměříž Declaration of the V4 PMs) in which all the relevant Ministries have identified key topics and forms of V4 cooperation.
The priorities listed in the first part of the programme summarise the most important and most key areas of the V4 cooperation upon which CZ V4 PRES focused. CZ V4 PRES payed attention to continuity with common projects launched under previous presidencies, tying directly into the SK V4 PRES 2014–15 by continuing with many of its initiatives, while expecting the relatively broad consultations undertaken with Poland being a sound basis of continuity through the PL V4 PRES 2016–17.
Ministry of Regional Development priorities
Cooperation among the V4 regional and local Development Ministries was a priority for the
CZ V4 PRES in the field of the EU Cohesion Policy.
The objectives were: continuing coordination of Spatial Development in the countries
of the V4 (+2) and potential update of the Common Spatial Development Strategy for the V4 (+2); exchanging experiences on the practical implementation of Housing Policy and phasing of major projects in the 2007–2013 programming period;
Programme of CZ V4 PRES, 2015 - 2016
Web pages: http://www.dotaceEU.cz
CZ V4 PRES programme
Joint Statement of the V4+4 Countries on the Cohesion Policy
CZ V4 PRES brochure
CURRENT V4 PRESIDENCY
- Preparing for the planned European regional conference UNECE “European Habitat” (March 2016).
- Coordination with the broader Central European region; coordination of the V4
in connection with the European Structural and Investment Funds – ESIF.
- Exchange of information focused on wrapping up the 2007–2013 programming period and launching implementation of the 2014–2020 programming period).
- Simplifying implementation of the Cohesion Policy, management of Partnership Agreements with an emphasis on strategic planning (instruments, public strategies) and evaluation activities.
- Continue with realisation of joint promotion under the V4 cooperation project with the goal of increasing inbound tourism from source countries in distant markets.
From July 2017 to June 2018, Hungary is holding the rotating Presidency of the Visegrad Group for the fifth time. The importance of the Visegrad Cooperation, based on the principles—mutual trust, flexibility, and a focus on common traditions, values and interests—guiding the V4 since its founding in 1991 has been growing recently.
In this context, the Hungarian Presidency is focused on areas in which the Visegrad Cooperation can deliver tangible results and added value based on specific common objectives in fields ranging from EU policies to global issues, in the following thematic structure:
- European Visegrad
- Regional Visegrad
- Digital Visegrad
- Global Visegrad
- The motto of the Hungarian Presidency, V4 Connects, reflects the significant positive impact of the Visegrad Cooperation in connecting the four countries in terms of politics, economy and culture, while also referring to the Presidency’s focus on our tasks related to connectivity: improving energy and transport links in our broader region, and working on a well-connected, innovative region ready for the digital age. Equally important is the V4 Presidency’s commitment to further improving dialogue, trust and cooperation between the V4 and other partners within the EU and globally. The V4 connects countries, governments, people, ideas and values in an inclusive and open manner. The V4 is determined to build on the power of connectivity in the broadest possible sense in order to find common solutions to challenges affecting the Visegrad Group as part of the broader European community.
Web pages: v4.gov.hu/en