Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala presented on Wednesday the programme and main goals of the Czech Council Presidency’s semester.
During her opening speech, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola noted that “with an illegal war on our continent, the Czech Presidency comes at a turning point in history. Our next steps will be decisive for our common future”. However, “this is not the time to backtrack on our ambitions,” President Metsola said and called for accelerating the EU green and digital transitions.
Prime Minister Fiala admitted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine turned most of the Czech Presidency plans upside down. “Our main task will be to find a united and strong agreement on measures to mitigate the negative effects of the current crises on our citizens”, stressed the Prime Minister.
The preparation of the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine as well as joint European projects, such as REPowerEU, aimed at freeing the EU from its dependence on Russia, will be important tasks for the Czech Presidency. However, “each member state must be able to choose the energy mix that best suits its conditions and that enables it to meet both its climate objectives”, underlined Mr Fiala. The Presidency will also seek to improve member states’ defence capacities, shortening supply chains, deepening free trade, ensuring food security and strengthening the resilience of democratic institutions.
On behalf of the Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU “must ensure that Ukraine wins the peace that will for sure come” and announced a high-level conference after the summer to deal with post-war reconstruction. She also stressed the need for investments in renewable energy and a common European action for energy security and solidarity.
In their reactions to Prime Minister Fiala’s speech, group leaders recalled the recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe and called for a revision of the Treaties, the introduction of the lead candidate system and a stronger parliamentary dimension in the EU. They also emphasised the need to enhance the EU’s energy security and called for a legally binding mechanism to address energy crisis in the European Union. Some called for stronger social policies to cope with the current crisis, while others encouraged the Czech Presidency to finalise the EU migration and asylum package.
You can catch up with the debate here.