Press Advisories

24. 6. 2022 16:45

Prime Minister Petr Fiala attended the European Council summit in Brussels, describing it as historic

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and President of the European Council Charles Michel get ready for the start of the summit in Brussels, 24 June  2022.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and President of the European Council Charles Michel get ready for the start of the summit in Brussels, 24 June 2022.
Against the backdrop of Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine, another European Council took place in Brussels between Thursday 23 and Friday 24 June 2022. The topic of Ukraine and the impact of Russian aggression on the countries of the European Union was dominant. The European Council agrees to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership, and addresses the issue of high energy prices, restrictions on Russian gas supplies to Europe and inflation. However, the leaders of EU27 also held talks with the leaders of the Western Balkan countries, discussed the deepening of the Union's relations with other non-member states in Europe and approved the introduction of the euro in Croatia from January 2023.

One of the most important points of the Thursday European Council meeting was the discussion of the candidate status of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The three post-Soviet republics are seeking membership in the European Union. The EU leaders listened to the European Parliament and the European Commission opinion and unanimously agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. Georgia has yet to complete some key reforms, they said.

"I would describe this European Council as historic, precisely because of the granting of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova," Prime Minister Petr Fiala said. "This is an important signal; it is important not only for Ukraine and Moldova, but for the whole of Europe. It shows that we share the same values, that we have opened the door of the European Union to these countries, and thus the European future and perspective. And in the context of the war that the Ukrainian people are bravely facing, this is an important signal from the European Union," Prime Minister Fiala noted.

According to the Czech Prime Minister, voting on the candidate status for these two countries was another demonstration of the unity with which the European Union stands against the aggressive behaviour of the Russian Federation. "We have shown once again at the European Council that we are able to agree, that we share the same positions and that we have a common view on the need to support Ukraine,"  Petr Fiala said.

Prior to the European Council, EU Prime Ministers and Presidents met with representatives of the Western Balkan countries, which are also aspiring to join the Union. The problem is mainly with the start of the accession process with Northern Macedonia and Albania, which is still blocked by Bulgaria. "I won't hide the fact that the negotiations with the Western Balkan countries are not proceeding optimally," the Czech Prime Minister admitted. "There is some dissatisfaction and perhaps frustration in Brussels with the length of the process with some Western Balkan countries. And indeed, for some of those countries, it's a long wait, sometimes more than ten years. We have also dealt with this thoroughly at the European Council. I would say that we have managed to find a solution that opens the door for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is very important also in terms of the stability of this country and its importance for the Balkans," Prime Minister Fiala said. According to the Prime Minister, further progress in the negotiations will be an important task for the incoming Czech Presidency.

Another major success of the summit is the agreement on the way forward in the possible expansion of EU cooperation with other European non-member states, the so-called Wider Europe concept. "I have been asked to prepare, together with French President Macron and European Council President Michel, the basic concept of an informal summit that could be held in Prague on this basis. I consider this to be important and it is a great trust placed in our Presidency," Prime Minister Fiala said. The concept of a wider Europe should include all European countries from Iceland to Ukraine. "I think that thinking about a new platform for European cooperation, developing the idea that French President Macron came up with, is the right way to go. And we are ready to take it further during the Czech Presidency," he said. "On this platform, we could talk with countries that are considering joining the European Union, are on their way to the European Union, or are European countries, share our values, but for various reasons are not or no longer members of the European Union," Prime Minister Fiala added.

The leaders also discussed the current energy crisis caused by the behaviour of the Russian Federation, which is exploiting the dependence of many European countries on Russian oil and gas supplies, as well as the high inflation rate in many Member States. "We have agreed that Member States will coordinate more on energy purchases and on alternative sources so that we can cope with energy prices and problems with energy supplies from Russia and make use of all the opportunities offered by a common Europe. These days a platform for joint energy purchases is being created, and thanks to this platform, which is on a voluntary basis, European countries will undoubtedly be able to achieve lower prices, especially in the case of gas, which is important for Europe," Prime Minister Fiala explained the conclusions of the meeting.

Prime Minister Fiala also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. The meeting focused, among others, on the plans of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, the upcoming important NATO summit in Madrid, which will focus on the enlargement of the Alliance to include Sweden and Finland, and the current security situation in connection with the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine. After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the Czech Republic for its assistance to the Ukrainian army and Ukrainian refugees. "However, our stocks of Soviet-era weapons systems are getting thinner and will need to be replenished," Prime Minister Fiala warned.

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