Speech by President Séamus BOLAND on the priorities of the Czech Presidency

Plenary debate with Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

Dear Minister,

I would like to join my colleagues in welcoming you to the EESC.

We have just finished a debate on the exploratory Opinion 'Violence against women and domestic violence', which was requested by the Czech Presidency. So your presence this afternoon is very timely indeed!

As we all know, belonging to any club, brings privileges and responsibilities. And the Czech Republic has recently taken up one of the greatest responsibilities of EU membership, namely: chairing the Council of the Presidency of the EU.

Your country has picked up the baton, to pilot the Council at a crucial and very delicate time for the EU and for European history. For whereas until recently, the EU has constantly been moving forward, actively building layers upon layers to this project, we are now forced to look back and to recall our original priorities and values. Which are of course, peace, hope and prosperity.

In this context, I very much appreciate the priorities of the Czech Presidency, which focus on the resilience of Europe's economy, energy and democratic institutions. Without doubt, the war in Ukraine has demonstrated that these three are intrinsically linked. And that they will play a pivotal role in the EU' future security.

I also appreciate the motto of the Czech Presidency, which is to Strengthen common freedom, responsibility, security and prosperity. Of course, the term 'common freedom' is now being well and truly tested. Whether it's Russia's invasion of Ukraine, or the return of severe global financial, food and energy insecurity, or indeed having to manage the challenges to climate change. These are all freedoms that we cherish and which are now in peril.

However, above all, the Czech Presidency will be dominated by the war in Ukraine and the management of rebuilding that country, whose candidacy for EU membership has been accepted.

The Presidency will also need to manage the huge disruption to energy supply. The necessity to develop a system of sustainable energy supply coupled with the absolute requirement to protect our planet, represent challenges that will require supreme leadership of the Union. Old talk of achieving targets by 2050 are almost redundant. This war has shown that unless the EU has the courage to bring forward truly ambitious plans to secure renewable energy on a vast scale, it will fail the hopes and dreams of its citizens.

Hence, it is welcome then that the Czech presidency will focus on the implementation of the RePowerEU package. Success with this package will depend on the levels of private and public investment; the commitment by the leadership of every single EU Member State; and the willingness to include citizens and civil society organisations in the formulation and implementation of relevant policies.

Dear Minister, I wish you a successful and rewarding Presidency!

Work organisation


Speech by Séamus Boland