Press Advisories

31. 5. 2022 17:40

Prime Minister Fiala attended a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels

Prime Minister Petr Fiala at a press conference after the end of the special meeting of the European Council, 31 May 2022.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala at a press conference after the end of the special meeting of the European Council, 31 May 2022.
On 30 and 31 May 2022, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala attended a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels. At this summit, the leaders agreed on a further package of sanctions against Russia, confirmed an agreement to provide direct financial assistance to Ukraine and also addressed energy, defence and security and food security.

The first day of the special meeting of the European Council focused on the consequences of and response to Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined the discussion on the latest developments via video-conference. The leaders managed to find an agreement on the content of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia and on the provision of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine worth nine billion euros.

"The European Council summit has brought excellent results. It has shown that the EU is capable of taking a clear stand against Russia and that it is still capable of taking a united stand in support of Ukraine. We were able to agree to cut ourselves off from Russian oil that flows by sea. By the end of the year, we will have reduced our offtake by ninety percent of the current amount. These are significant numbers and it is a rapid progress," said Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

The Czech Prime Minister succeeded in negotiating an exemption for the Czech Republic regarding the import of petroleum products from Russian oil. "In order to be able to provide enough fuel for the citizens of the Czech Republic, we will have an exemption that will be valid for eighteen months. For the duration of this exemption, it will be possible to import products made from Russian oil into our country because we are not able to immediately replace the cut-off," added Prime Minister Fiala.

Another topic on the first day of the meeting was financial assistance to Ukraine and support for the Member States most affected by the refugee crisis. "We will support Ukraine with €9 billion in direct financial aid and we have tasked the European Commission with finding funds for countries that handle Ukrainian refugees. It is an expression of European solidarity that will now have to be translated into concrete measures. This is crucial for us; we are one of the countries most affected by the refugee wave," said Petr Fiala.

On the second day of the meeting, the leaders discussed energy, especially the RePowerEU plan, getting rid of dependence on Russian gas and the possibilities of financing it. "The whole of Europe is plagued by high energy prices, and these are undoubtedly due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The conclusions of the European Council in this respect task the European Commission with examining legislative options to limit the high growth in energy prices or even to control them," said the Czech Prime Minister.

It is important for the Czech Republic that EU member states confirmed the freedom of energy mix at the summit and stressed the importance of building more energy interconnections and LNG terminals. The leaders also agreed on the need for increased support for investment in renewable energy sources and energy savings. "We will be able to draw support for these projects under the new RePowerEU instrument. This instrument should, above all, reduce our dependence on Russian fossil fuels, strengthen our energy self-sufficiency and, importantly for us, make it possible to finance some fossil fuel projects from this instrument," said Prime Minister Fiala.

There was also a discussion on the issue of food security, not only in the context of the consequences of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. The leaders were joined in this part of the meeting by Senegalese President and Chair of the African Union Macky Sall. "Russia's blockade of food exports from Ukraine has an immediate impact on some developing countries, especially those in North Africa and the Middle East, and this, of course, has a subsequent security impact on the whole of Europe. We have, therefore, supported the introduction of the so-called solidarity corridors, the aim of which will be to facilitate the export of grain and agricultural products from Ukraine. The Czech Republic is also looking for ways to intensively help in this area, for example, by train transport" Petr Fiala said.

The last topic of the extraordinary European Council meeting was security and defence, with a focus on strengthening resilience and increasing European defence capabilities. "We all want to strengthen Europe's defence and security. We know that the security situation in our neighbourhood has deteriorated significantly and we need to do something to make Europe stronger in terms of defence," the Prime Minister said. "It was mentioned during the discussion that the EU countries must pay more attention to their defence. This means, of course, spending more money on defence, and the Czech Republic, as well as many other countries that are members of the European Union and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have a large debt from the past," he said.

The EU leaders agreed that in addition to the amount of money that needs to be spent on defence, it is also important how it is used. "This means that it is important that we use them for investments and also for joint projects, in which the Czech defence industry can be involved. To try to improve the coordination of purchases so that we don't have such a large fragmentation of military equipment, so that we can cooperate more with military technology suppliers and also with our allies on this issue. I think that this topic is also important for the Czech Republic because we certainly have something to offer here, given the scale and quality of our military defence industry," the Prime Minister recalled.

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