On 1 July, the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union began, following the end of the French Presidency. The country is the second over the course of the 18 month-long “trio presidency”, following France and preceding Sweden.
In “trio presidencies”, member states work closely together to achieve long-term goals, sharing a common agenda. However, alongside the foci of the initial programme – Covid recovery, digital sovereignty and the ‘One Health EU approach’- new, urgent priorities were introduced following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In light of the conflict, the Czech presidency has announced that it will focus on managing the refugee crisis caused by the invasion and assisting Ukraine’s post-war recovery. In addition, achieving energy security within the EU will be of paramount importance. This is to be done through reducing dependence on Russian energy by accumulating reserves, and decarbonisation. The priority list also emphasizes strengthening the defence of the continent, as well as keeping the economy resilient.
Besides the strategic issues in light of the conflict, the Czech Presidency also emphasizes research and innovation. A number of research-oriented meetings are scheduled by the presidency, including the meeting of European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) in Prague in September. In addition, the presidency also organised a large-scale conference on Synergies in Research and Innovation Funding at which Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Vladimír Balaš, and EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel were present. The presidency also began working with committees of the European Parliament, as exchanges were held with ENVI members on 11 and 12 July.