On 15 June 2022, Prime Minister Petr Fiala presented the political priorities of the Czech EU Presidency at the Hrzánský Palace.
Together with the Minister for European Affairs Mikuláš Bek and the Head of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic Jana Kotalíková, they also unveiled the official logo, motto and present the organizational details.
The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU begins on 1 July 2022.
The program was unveiled under the motto “Europe as a task: rethink, rebuild, repower.”
The slogan, inspired by the late author and statesman Václav Havel, is meant to symbolize the new chapter in Europe’s history opened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We can say that the world will not be the same after Russia’s aggression,” Fiala said, speaking to reporters at the Hrzánský Palace in Prague. “We want to play an active part and rewrite Europe’s future.”
The war has shaken the continent’s “certainties”, exposed its “vulnerabilities” and “fundamentally” altered its security architecture, the prime minister said, calling on the EU to tackle these challenges in an “active way” rather than as an observer relying on other great powers.
Every six months an EU member state is assigned to preside over the Council of the European Union, one of the bloc’s co-legislators.
The presiding state sets the agenda of ministerial meetings, acts as a honest broker during negotiations and represents the position agreed by the 27 before the European Commission and the European Parliament.
Fiala said the five overarching themes of the mandate will be the war in Ukraine, energy security, defence, economic resilience and democratic institutions.
The Czech Republic will focus on addressing the massive migration wave prompted by the conflict and Ukraine’s costly reconstruction. The Kyiv School of Economics estimates the damage inflicted by the Russian army could reach €600 billion, or even more if the invasion drags on.
Rethink, rebuild and repower
Closely linked to the war, energy security will be another top priority for Prague.
The country wants to push forward REPower EU, the Commission’s ambitious roadmap to wean the bloc off Russian fossil fuels, the Kremlin’s primary source of revenues.
The plan will cost more than €210 billion and be financed through the repurposed recovery fund. Most of the money will be channelled into renewables and energy-efficiency measures, although nearly €12 billion have been earmarked to diversify gas suppliers and revamp oil systems.
The resilience of the EU’s economy will also feature prominently on the agenda. Prague wants to promote the bloc’s competitiveness in strategic sectors, such as microchips, and strengthen food supply chains, which are under threat by the ongoing war.
When it comes to defence, the Czechs aim to boost the EU’s capabilities to fight cyber-attacks, disinformation and foreign interference, while supporting the implementation of the Strategic Compass, the bloc’s long-term strategy that defines its foreign and security policy.
“Until now, the EU’s transition was around two axes: green and digital. That’s still applicable,” said Bek. “But now we have a third dimension: security. And it’s clear the entire debate has shifted to a more sober tone.”
Finally, the Czech presidency will centre on democratic values, like media pluralism, and the protection of the EU’s democratic institutions. Among the pending tasks will be the conditionality procedure that Brussels has launched against Hungary, which could lead to a first-ever suspension of EU funds.