Rethink, Rebuild, Repower: Czech PM’s plan for EU presidency

On Wednesday, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala presented his country’s programme for the coming 6-month European Union Council Presidency term, at a debate in Strasbourg. The Presidency of the EU Council was transferred to the Czech Republic on July 1.

Our motto is to rethink, rebuild and repower. That reflects our challenges and the problems of current Europe and our reactions to them. The Czech presidency will want to build a safe and prosperous EU, such an EU that will be true to its values of freedom and democracy, an EU that will enable all of its citizens to travel and work freely or become engaged in the internal market,” The Czech prime minister said during his opening remarks in Strassbourg.

Five pillars of the Czech presidency

According to the head of the Czech parliament, his country wants to focus on five key issues during their 6-month presidency, namely Ukraine, energy, defence, economy and democracy.

The first priority is managing the refugee crisis and a post-war reconstruction of Ukraine,” Petr Fiala said, while also pointing out that the Russian aggression on Ukraine is directly and indirectly “impacting all member states of the EU”.

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The second focus point for the Czech Republic will be the energy security of the entire European Union. “The current crisis has fully shown us how much the future of the EU is existentially dependent on others and how important it is to be independent, especially as far as countries which are threatening our safety are concerned. I'm talking about Russian gas, oil and coal,” PM Fiala said.

The third priority for the Czech Republic, according to the Czech prime minister will be boosting the EU’s defence capabilities. “The war in Europe has shown how important it is to boost European defence capabilities as well as the safety and security of European cyberspace,” he emphasised.

The fourth vocal point according to Petr Fiala will be rebuilding the European economy. “It was the COVID pandemic that has shown some weak points in the European economy, one-sided dependency on some countries. Europe must be an industrial and technology leader. For that, it is important to have a well-functioning single market without unnecessary obstacles that will boost our European companies. We, therefore, have to understand the supply chains better and make them as short as possible, so that the availability of strategic resources and spare parts is always a matter of certainty,” he stated.

The fifth and last issue of priority that the Czech Republic will focus on during its presidency is protecting democracy in the EU. “Ronald Reagan said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. The same can be said about democracy. That is why it is so important to have resilient democratic institutions,” the Czech prime minister said.

“I cannot imagine a better country, one more suited to taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council. No better country than the Czech Republic. The Czech people have suffered under oppression and the people in the Czech Republic know all about resistance, the power of hope and the joy that comes with a free democracy. Now, more than ever, we need to strive for freedom, and self-determination in the European Union. So my Petr, I look forward to the Czech presidency of the European Union over the next six months,” the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said after the Czech PM’s initial remarks.