18 years after becoming a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic takes over the Presidency of the EU Council for the second time in its history. Presiding over the work of the Council is never an easy task. The role of the Presidency is to encourage member states to reach a consensus on often complex and contentious issues, to represent the Council in negotiations with the European Parliament and to drive forward progress on EU legislation.
In order to succeed in these tasks, the Presidency needs to be able to understand the various sides of the debate without ever losing sight of the ultimate goal and to act as an honest and neutral broker. The Czech Republic is aware of the important and difficult nature of this role.
However, nothing could have prepared us for the scale of the challenges that lay before us. The problems caused by climate change, the COVID pandemic that is not over yet, the unprecedented war in Ukraine, the ensuing food and energy crises that have only added to it.
Nevertheless, we are up to the task and are keen to learn as much as possible from the experience. Our membership of the EU may have only recently come of age, but we have a solid and enthusiastic team made up of old hands and fresh faces, who are ready and willing to take on the challenges that will no doubt come our way in the months ahead.
The Czech Presidency’s motto is ‘Europe as a task: Rethink, Rebuild, Repower’. The first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, saw Europe not as a fait accompli but as a continual work in progress, one that both called for and rewarded new ways of thinking. The challenges facing us today may be unprecedented, but they also provide an opportunity to reconsider Europe’s role in the world and explore new ways of achieving our goals.
Yet it is not only about challenges. The Presidency of the Council of the EU also provides us with the means and space to showcase the best our country has to offer. That is why as well as preparing for our legislative role, we are ready to organize a serie of seminars, brainstormings and conferences. We have also put together an extensive cultural programme to promote the achievements of our artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers and dramatists, in Brussels as well as in other places.
The months ahead will no doubt provide also a valuable learning experience, an opportunity to share our country’s achievements, and a chance for one of the EU’s “youngest” nations to spearhead new approaches and new ways of thinking about the challenges facing all Europeans today.
Edita Hrdá, Head of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU