The Czech government is currently preparing for its country to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2022 where it plans to focus on the development of the EU’s internal market, ensure the security of Europe, and focus on digitization and the development of modern technologies.
Other priority areas will focus on sustainability and social cohesion, the State Secretary for European Affairs Milena Hrdinková said at the meeting of the European Parliamentary Committee.
She emphasized that the list of priorities would be narrowed in the future depending on developments in the EU.
According to Hrdinková, the now presented proposal of priorities is the first working version, which is based on consultations with ministries and the Chamber of Deputies. It also takes into account the legislative plan of the European Commission.
Hrdinková said that the government should present the first official version of the material at the beginning of next year. Further changes will be possible in the months preceding the start of the Czech presidency.
However, the Czech government has already determined that the topic of internal market will be among the priorities under all circumstances.
“It corresponds with the type of economy and characteristics of the Czech Republic. If we should name one thing from which the Czech Republic benefits the most from the EU membership, it is the internal market,” she explained.
Czechia wants to focus on deepening the internal market, building transport infrastructure, and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Another important area will be ensuring the security of the EU. This will not only concern security in the usual sense, such as the protection of external borders or the solution of migration, but also, for example, energy security and strengthening the importance of the EU’s role in the world, Hrdinková further stated.
According to the chairman of the European Parliamentary Committee, Ondřej Benešík, ensuring the EU’s self-sufficiency in strategic areas, such as health care, which the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted, could also be part of this topic.
The working list of priorities also includes support for digitization, ensuring of EU cohesion, protecting jobs, responding to demographic changes, and supporting sustainability and environmental protection. Czechia wants to focus on securing water resources and preserving forests.
MEPs agreed that the list of priorities is very broad and will need to be narrowed in the future. According to some of them, this approach allows the Czech Republic to respond well to any developments in the EU.
However, MEP Jan Farský pointed out that Czechia should eventually choose two or three priorities, so that it does not waste energy on too many goals, and therefore does not achieve any of them.
The Czech Republic will hold the EU presidency in the second half of 2022 after France and before Sweden. The representatives of the three countries have been conducting informal consultations for about half a year on the alignment of presidential priorities, but it is still too early for a final agreement, Hrdinková concluded.
Title image: Czech Republic’s acting Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives at a news conference after talks with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the government’s headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic Thursday April 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)