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18. 11. 2008 14:39

Press release:Preparation of the Czech EU Presidency priorities and programme are drawing to an end

PRAGUE, 12 NOVEMBER 2008 – Three E´s – Economy, Energy and External relations - will constitute the three key priorities of the Czech Presidency, explained the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek at a press conference today in Prague where he also, together with the Deputy PM for EU affairs Alexandr Vondra, presented the logo and visual identity of the Czech Presidency. In accordance with the current practice, the Czech government will present a detailed working programme of the Czech Presidency at the end of December 2008.

The motto of the Czech Presidency unveiled much sooner – already in February 2007- calls for a Europe without Barriers – a Europe making full use of its economic, human and cultural potential and therefore capable of holding its own against global, political and economic competition. Given the current turbulent situation on the financial markets and the slowdown of the economic growth, this challenge has a strategic importance for Europe. The dismantling of barriers that hamper Europe’s potential must go hand in hand with protection against illegal actions that threaten the security and interests of Europeans. It is the achievement of these fundamental objectives that will be the ultimate goal of the six months’ Presidency while carrying out the three priority objectives: A Competitive Europe (Economy), Tackling Energy and Climate Change (Energy) and An Open and Secure Europe (External relations).

PRIORITIES STEP BY STEP

The work on the agenda of the Czech EU Presidency started already in the summer of 2006. Intensive discussions, held at both working and political level with domestic as well as European partners, have gradually led to the specification of several priority areas. The first broader document on priorities was produced already in February 2007, with the next one published in October of the same year. In July 2008 the Czech government discussed the conception of main and sectoral priorities of the Czech Presidency. In defining its priorities, the government has built on EU strategic documents, EU Council conclusions, as well as European Council conclusions. Together with France and Sweden – fellow partners in the Trio Presidency – the Czech Republic has worked out a joint 18-month programme, which, for a year and half, will become an EU road map, ensuring stability and continuity.

The Czech Republic will be leading the EU in rather difficult times. Elections to the European Parliament will take place in June 2009. Therefore, we are aware of the fact that its legislative activity will go down, and all negotiated topics will become more politicised than usual. Following the European elections, the Czech Presidency will have to start the process of appointing the new European Commission. The institutional framework of the Union, particularly the destiny of the Lisbon Treaty, will be another important issue. Recent dramatic events in Georgia, as well as developments in the financial markets will also significantly influence the Czech Presidency.

Economy - A Competitive Europe

In the key area of competitiveness, the Presidency will strive to achieve further developments in the internal market so that it may fully benefit from a globalised economy. The Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment should become the principal platform for handling the new global economic situation in the medium and long term. In line with the Lisbon Strategy, the Czech Presidency will focus on the development of all the basic freedoms of the internal market; it will make an effort to improve the administrative environment for businesses and to enhance employment as well as flexibility on the labour market. At the same time, the process of dismantling external barriers must continue – we must not resign ourselves to the suspension of world trade liberalisation, to unfair competition and insufficient protection of intellectual and industrial property in third counties. Indeed, instead of shutting itself off from the world, the EU must do its best to open itself to world trade and benefit from this openness as much as possible.

Energy and Climate Change

Another important theme of the Czech Presidency centres on a set of issues concerning energy and climate change. In discussing the climate and energy package, the Presidency will endeavour to ensure energy security, competitiveness and sustainability in Europe. It will focus on energy supply security through energy savings, on replacing imported fossil fuels by new technologies and greater territorial diversity of suppliers. Further, it will strive to achieve efficient coordination among transmission system operators, to accomplish the single gas and electricity market and to promote the construction of the remaining sections of the existing transmission and transport infrastructure. As regards climate change, the Presidency will make an effort to finalise the fulfilment of the Kyoto obligations and pave the way for a broad international consensus reflecting the current global economic situation, to be reached in Copenhagen towards the end of 2009

External relations - An Open and Secure Europe

Europe’s position as a global player depends, first of all, on the development of the transatlantic partnership. Therefore, the Czech Presidency will place an emphasis on close dialogue with the new US administration in the key areas of security, economy and energy. Within Europe, the Czech Presidency will launch the Eastern Partnership project, strengthening the cooperation with the countries of the Eastern Dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as with the countries of the South Caucasus and the Caspian Region. During the Czech Presidency, accession negotiations with the candidate countries - Croatia and Turkey - will continue. The Presidency also focuses on a European prospect for the Western Balkan countries, including possible preparations of granting candidate status to some of them. The Presidency is also prepared to continue the development of the Southern Dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to help improve relations with the countries involved in this project, including the strengthening of relations between the EU and Israel, and the Middle East peace process in general.

In today’s global world, the external security threats are increasingly reflected in the area of internal security. The Czech Presidency sees the development of the area of security, freedom and justice as a common interest of the EU, influencing the lives of all European citizens.

Last but not least, no matter how well prepared we are - and we have indeed put all our efforts to prepare well for our Presidency - the Czech Republic will need a certain amount of luck to be successful. The preceding French Presidency is a good example of how the plans and priorities of the Presidency can be turned upside down literally overnight by developments on the international scene. That is another reason why we must be flexible when formulating priorities and be ready to respond to topical challenges. 

Contact: Michaela Jelínková, Spokesperson to the Deputy Prime Minister for EU affairs
Government Office of the Czech Republic, nábř. Edvarda Beneše 4 - 118 01 Praha 1
* * * * * * * * * * * *
tel (+420) 224 002 796, GSM (+420) 724 258 939
e-mail:jelinkova.michaela@vlada.cz

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