Central EU Nations Plan for Stronger EU

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Poland's prime minister says four Central European nations have hammered out proposals for the European Union that should strengthen the voice of member nations and avoid divisions.

Beata Szydlo spoke Thursday following a meeting with her counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The meeting was held just days before an EU summit in Brussels and a special March 25 meeting in Rome.

She said the joint declaration for a "better union" that was agreed on Thursday will be presented at the summit.

It calls for a strong EU market with no divisions and for greater control of member nations over the legislative and decision-making processes.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The prime ministers of four Central European nations met Thursday to discuss ways of strengthening the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc.

The meeting took place just days before an EU summit in Brussels and ahead of the March 25 EU meeting in Rome that will mark 60 years since the start of the European Economic Community, which later became the EU's economic foundation.

In Warsaw, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo hosted her counterparts: Bohuslav Sobotka of the Czech Republic, Slovakia's Robert Fico and Hungary's Viktor Orban. The four nations are known as the Visegard group.

Szydlo's spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, says the talks will focus on the EU's future but also on the quality of the food that some international firms distribute in central Europe. According to some experts, the foods offered to Central European markets are inferior to those sold elsewhere.

The talks are also expected to include Poland's lack of support for a second term for Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, as European Council head.

Tusk's 2 -year term ends in May. He is the only candidate for the position and enjoys general support, but is the long-time political rival of the leader of Poland's ruling conservative party.

(KA)