The Czech government presented its priorities for its upcoming EU Presidency on Wednesday (15 June), foregrounding the issues of Ukraine’s EU candidate status, alongside energy security. EURACTIV Czechia reports.
Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is central to the Czech Presidency of the EU Council, both in terms of providing humanitarian support for the country and pushing for the granting of Ukraine’s EU candidate status.
The Czech Republic has been among the most vocal promoters of candidacy status for Ukraine since the beginning of the war, together with Poland and the Baltic states, and has stated its intention to use the presidency to “work in favour of reaching a consensus” on the issue. Czech EU Affairs Minister Mikuláš Bek recently told Czech media that he believed there is broad support for such a move.
The Presidency will also support the “further use of EU instruments for arms supplies to Ukraine”. During the presentation of the Presidency priorities, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS, ECR), said: “What we must do to end the war is clear. Put pressure on Russia, maintain European unity, continue to support Ukraine and try to ensure that Vladimir Putin’s aggressive plans do not succeed.”
Fiala also emphasised the need for solidarity across the bloc to deal with the influx of Ukrainian refugees, of which the Czech Republic has received over 350,000. In cooperation with the European Commission, the presidency will focus on the allocation of sufficient funding to the relevant member states, organisations and civil society actors who tackling the crisis.
Moreover, the Czech Presidency hopes to organise an EU-Ukraine summit in October 2022, personally attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, depending on the security situation in the country at the time.
Prague also wants to secure effective implementation and enforcement of sanctions imposed again Russia and support the investigation of war crimes in cooperation with the International Criminal Court.
Energy security should include nuclear projects
Another key priority of the Czech Presidency will be pushing for the development of energy infrastructure and building the resilience of the EU’s energy sector.
Prague has confirmed its full support of the EU’s Fit for 55 and REPowerEU legislative packages, including all measures needed to end Europe’s dependency on Russian energy imports by 2027.
“Last but not least, the Czech Presidency will focus on the role of nuclear energy in ensuring EU energy security and meeting the EU’s climate goals,” the official document, presented on 15 June, writes.
The role of nuclear energy within the EU has been a hotly debated topic recently, as on Tuesday (14 June) two European Parliamentary committees sought to block nuclear and gas from the EU’s green taxonomy, as was proposed in the Commission’s delegated act.
If the committees’ resolution is backed by July’s parliamentary plenary, the Commission will be obliged to withdraw or amend the delegated act, a move that could discourage potential investors from nuclear project funding.
Asked about the controversial issue of the sustainability of nuclear energy by EURACTIV.cz, Czech Prime Minister Fiala stood firm on the country’s support for nuclear projects. “We will continue to push for nuclear to be one of the supported energy sources,” he said.
However, he acknowledged the sensitivity of the debate. “I will not be afraid of the discussion. It is crucial for the future of Europe.”
Ukraine and energy security aside, the Czech Presidency’s priorities include defence, cybersecurity and fortifying the bloc’s economic resilience – including an emphasis on finding new sources of raw materials and crucial technologies.
Prague will also be focusing on the strengthening of democratic principles by moderating discussions on the rule of law. Regarding ongoing disputes with Warsaw and Budapest over the issue, the Presidency has emphasised its commitment to ensuring that “all stakeholders take a constructive approach to resolving the current situation”.
[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]