Press Advisories

19. 10. 2017 23:33

The EU will continue its assistance to African countries and the strengthening of European defence

The European Council in session in Brussels, 19th October 2017. Source: the European Union
The European Council in session in Brussels, 19th October 2017. Source: the European Union
EU leaders agreed to continue their assistance to African countries, to strengthen the resistance of the EU to cyber threats and to launch a new program to finance the development of defence technologies within the framework of the European Council’s first session today.

European statesmen dealt with the external dimension of migration at the beginning of the October summit. Assistance provided to third countries and the protection of the external borders are long-term basic prerequisites for preventing other migration crises from the point of view of the Czech government. The Czech Republic is one of the most active European countries and it recently increased its contribution to the joint fund for migration activity in Africa by 1 million Euros.

“Europe must further strengthen its presence in Northern Africa and intensively contribute to handling the migration in this region. We cannot let up just because migration pressures are falling. We have to preventively face up to illegal migration and that requires the involvement of all member states,” stated Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. European statesmen also agreed today that the EU must be much more emphatic in its returns policy.

The heads of state and prime ministers also undertook to hold a Digital Summit in Tallinn. They supported the development of a European data economy, cross-border electronic trade, the creation of a new generation network or securing defence against cyber threats. The Czech Republic has significant experience in the realm of cyber security. The government is therefore prepared to actively participate in strengthening the resistance of the EU to cyber threats.

Another part of the European Council’s discussions was dedicated to deepening defence cooperation. The EU leaders confirmed that Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) should be launched by the end of the year which will enable intensive cooperation between the member states with the goal of strengthening the ability to undertake demanding joint operations. The Czech government approved the involvement of the Czech Republic in PESCO last week. “I see our involvement in the Permanent Structure Cooperation as a strategic decision. In doing so, we are following on from a long-term Czech initiative and the successful DESCOP conference in July,” commented the Prime Minister on the Czech activity in the area of the strengthening of European defence.

The European also agreed today that a new EU program for financing developments in defence technology should be launched next year. The Czech Republic is interested in ensuring that this cooperation also focusses on small and medium-sized enterprises, so that Czech firms can also take advantage of the benefits. This interest was also successfully included in the European Council’s conclusions.

The final topic at today‘s meeting was external relations. The heads of state and prime ministers discussed relations with Turkey which is still a key partner of the EU in several fundamental areas, such as the fight against terrorism or the management of migration pressures. Nevertheless, the European Council continued to insist upon the fact that Turkey must adhere to the standards required of candidate countries, including human rights protection.

Friday will be dedicated to a debate on the future of the EU within the framework of which the Chairman of the European Council Donald Tusk will present proposals for the further direction of European integration. The EU27 leaders will then meet to discuss the state of the Brexit negotiations.

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