Press Conferences

29. 6. 2009 11:35

Press Conference on the Czech Presidency, Held on Monday 29th June 2009

Michaela Jelínková: Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to today's press conference on the Czech Presidency. I am pleased to welcome Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who will shortly provide us with an introduction. I also welcome Deputy Ministers Jana Hendrichova and Marek Mora from the Office of the Government, now we have for you a short summary of the last 6 months. How it was briefly, what happened over the last 6 months and now I would like to ask the Prime Minister to speak.

Jan Fischer, Czech Prime Minister: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. What to say at the conclusion of the Czech Presidency, which ends tomorrow? It now belongs to the past, and whether we think it fair or unfair, it will be overlaid with many other events, and certainly you and we will tend to forget it. Let us recall it briefly once more. The Czech Presidency is not something which began on 1st January, it is something that the Czech Republic was preparing for at the political and expert level for several months. It went into it with the basic slogan of "Europe Without Barriers", which I personally consider very fortunate, and with those 3 E's - Energy, the Economy, and Europe in the world. The first days of the Czech Presidency convinced us that there wasn't much time to get our bearings, because almost on 1st January the presidency faced the need to coordinate the European stance on the crisis in Gaza and the crisis of gas supplies. This was a big test of the abilities of the Czech Presidency, and I am convinced that the political establishment of the day acquitted itself with credit. The important thing is that during the presidency, and perhaps it was the gas crisis that made this true, that the Czech Presidency considered it necessary, and started off a very good process that the problems of energy and security are not something to be resolved crisis by crisis, to be resolved ad hoc, taking specific measures for the moment, but that the problem is to be understood systemically and I think that this was the great contribution of the Czech Presidency, that Europe began to deal very seriously with systemic questions and measures to create a strong system of European energy security. On the second E, the economy, it makes no sense to teach everyone that the Czech Presidency took place at a time when the global economic and financial crisis in varying degrees and with varying consequences for different countries was no longer just knocking on the door, but had already forced its way into the European house.

What the Czech Presidency succeeded in doing very well, was to prevent some countries from indulging their taste in solving the issue using protectionist means and seeking ways out only at the expense of others. In the end the principle of solidarity and a universal approach at the European level won out, and I think that that is a vision which will be linked to the Czech Presidency. It is with respect to the economic crisis, I think, that this is the main point. The Presidency also succeeded in many tax issues, and in others associated with taking measures against the crisis, but this antiprotectionism I regard as the most important outcome. Europe and the world, the Eastern Partnership project are part of the deepest mark left by the Czech Presidency, although it was not the only one. None of us took any pleasure from the fall of the government. After 4 months of a functioning presidency. At that time I made it my own priority at both a government and personal level to do everything to heal this problem, not allow it to fester, to make it clear that the Czech Presidency was alive and to concentrate our efforts on two things, that the Council sessions operated continuously, and mainly that we concentrate on a successful conclusion to the presidency in the form of the European Council summit.

You know the result, that we were able to fill up the agenda with such items that we contributed markedly to the achievement of political agreement on the candidate for the new head of the European Commission, that we were able to negotiate the Irish guarantees well, at the institutional level that Europe after a hard and tough debate agreed on several regulatory measures in regard to financial markets and on the principles of bank supervisions and that on climate problems it was able to formulate a standpoint with which it could go to the upcoming December climate summit. I think that that is a positive and absolutely specific result. These things did not come about by themselves, the important thing is that during the preparation and course of the presidency the teams of people who at the central level of the Office of the Government and the individual Ministries organised the presidency acquitted themselves with great credit. They were well trained, strongly motivated, showed that Czech administration is not at all as bad as we sometimes are inclined to believe. These teams greatly proved their worth, performed excellent work, not only in this country but also abroad at the representative office at the EU in Brussels. Those people who organised the presidency at other international organisation, thanks go to them, and thanks go to them also for what I value above all, that these teams did not fall apart, that they (worked) as loyal civil servants, and let us remember this for the future, for a very positive result, in spite of the change in political conditions and the problems the country was going through, these people worked and put into it exactly the same energy as before. This is what a high-quality, qualified and loyal civil servant should look like. For me this is one of the greatest lessons from the whole event. The Czech Presidency proved that even a new member state, a country not great in size, can leave its mark on the EU and not just raise the dust. I think that that is also important. And at the end, we are handing the presidency over to Sweden with a full agenda, in good shape both in terms of content and administration. I will once more make use of this opportunity to thank most sincerely all those who shared in the excellent preparation and operations of the presidency, whether it be those at the political level or the specialists in various departments both here and abroad. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention. This press conference will continue with more detailed information. I must apologise for leaving now, I must run a cabinet meeting, we are beginning with a recapitulation of further measures against the floods, and we have a very full agenda, so permit me to take my leave.

Michaela Jelínková: My thanks to the Prime Minister and now I would like to ask Deputies Marek Mora and Jana Hendrichová, on whose shoulders lay the preparation and coordination of the presidency at the Office of the Government. I would only remind you that Deputy Jana Hendrichová manages the Section for Preparation of the Presidency, on whose shoulders lay all organisation and preparation and Marek Mora manages the European Affairs Section. Unconventionally, I would ask Marek to begin the presentation.

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. With Deputy Hendrichová I have divided up the order in which the presentation, which I hope will now start up, will run. I will speak about the content of the presidency. As you certainly know there were three priorities, well known to you, the three E's - the Economy, Energy and the EU in the world. I think that the circumstances in which the Czech Presidency of the EU Council was played out showed that these were topics of the highest topicality and validity.

Even the motto "Europe Without Barriers", which originally was to have commemorated the historical context in which the presidency was taking place, that is 20 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, and 5 years after accession to the EU, was to recall also the economic and political focus within the EU on the strengthening and deepening of the singly market, in particular the removal of shortcomings on the free movement of people and capital, but also externally in particular in respect to the liberalisation of trade and the continuation of WTO talks. I think that the economic crisis which we have had to face has underlined this motto even further, you can see yourselves that at the beginning of our presidency a certain demand for protectionism existed, and I think that it is a product of the Czech Presidency that we managed to restrain this trend which would have been damaging in the long-term as all economists certainly agree, and this gave our motto further relevance. We also succeeded in achieving many very concrete tangible results, adopting some 80 measures, 50 legislative acts, which were accepted in the joint decision-making procedure, which is a relatively complicated procedure requiring agreement between the EU Council and the European Parliament. 23 legislative acts which were in the simplified consultation procedure and other legislative matters. As far as the economy is concerned, there we faced the greatest challenges, first of all the original financial crisis, which flowed over into the economic crisis and the impacts on the economic and social sphere and employment.

You know that the EU had already adopted a European Plan for Economic Renewal. We approached the fulfilment of this plan, with the aim, as the Prime Minister mentioned, of maintaining this joint coordinated approach to avoid any single country taking steps to the detriment of others, because this overall would have led only to further aggravation of the problems. Respect for the rules of the internal market, economic competition, the Stability and Growth Pact, even if we know that a number of countries have deficits greater than those assumed by the Stability Pact, but we trust that this is only temporary and that what is happening now is in essence consistent with the new flexible Stability and Growth Pact. As far as concrete results are concerned, we have succeeded in putting through that legislative element which was decided in the joint decision-making procedure, that is an increase in funding for EU projects to the value of 5 billion Euros, which was not easy, and this should contribute to economic stimulation. Of this 5 billion some 4 is going into energy projects, the remainder to support broadband internet and agricultural projects.

There were other complicated items, for example the forcing through of reduced VAT rates for certain services with a high labour content. You know that the debate on reduced VAT rates has being going on for a number of years, but nothing was achieved until the Czech Presidency. Of course this was in part due to the exceptionally unfavourable conditions and the member states were pressed into doing it, but even then there was great resistance from a number of states to this step and in spite of this Minister Kalousek succeeded in this and it was with a certain amount of skill that this was achieved, since agreement on this had to be unanimous. And that is not easy to achieve. A further measure was the simplification of decrees on the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund and on the decree on the European Globalisation Fund. In particular the Structural Funds should have a direct impact on the Czech Republic, there should be faster drawing down from these funds. Concerning the financial sector, a whole series of measures were adopted, I will not name all of them, only the most important; in the area of insurance it was Solvency II, there was the decree on rating agencies, which tightens the functioning and registration of agencies. A Directive on the capital requirements of banks, and something which should affect citizens and business owners directly, legislation concerning cross-border payments in Euros and electronic money institutions.

The Prime Minister has already referred to the debate conducted on strengthened supervision of the financial markets, progress was made in particular at the June Council, where political agreement was reached on what European Commission legislative proposals should look like in this area and what should happen in the autumn. I think that the EU was also relatively successful at the global level. We succeeded in achieving relatively marked successes at the G20 summit. I believe that it was exactly because of the joint position of the EU, that it was possible to prevent any kind of protectionist efforts and that this joint coordinated approach was maintained not only at the European level, but also at the global level, including players such as the EU, the USA, China and others. Energy was mentioned at the beginning. The gas crisis only served to amplify the importance of this topic, so that those who had seen it as being of less importance realised that it was an absolutely fundamental issue. I have already said that of the 5 billion, 4 went on energy. These were matters, for example, of energy connections, because we knew that some small connections between gas systems simply do not exist or do not work and thus one cannot send gas backwards within Europe, the flow was only from East to West, and we needed to turn that around. The capacity of compressor stations, gas storage and other facilities was increased. We succeeded in allocating 200 million Euros for the Nabucco project, which was also critical for the Czech Presidency. Here I come to an energy topic, the Southern Corridor - the new Silk Road, where we held a summit on 8th May on the Southern Corridor, when we were able to sign a declaration between the EU, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey on further cooperation.

We trust that we will succeed in including other Central European countries. Also during the presidency at the March European Council a second strategic energy review was approved; this is a kind of EU energy policy, which we have always discussed at length at national level, this was adopted at the European level and this also includes the topics concerning diversification of sources, external relations, energy effectiveness and so on. In the energy area the Czech Presidency succeeded in approving the so-called Third Liberalisation Package, a complex matter concerning the electricity and gas industries. This is the sensitive and complicated issue of the division of ownership between generation and distribution. This also was resolved to the satisfaction of the member states, so that the Package could be adopted by the European Parliament and by a qualified majority in the EU Council. On energy efficiency I would perhaps mention that it is the amendment to the decree on the European Fund for Regional Development that helped drawing down from the fund to be done in such a manner as to improve energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources in house building, which was not possible before. The third E - the EU in the world. Again, we have already mentioned how it began.

On Gaza there are various views, but we were never under any illusion that the Czech Presidency itself could resolve the problem in the Middle East, you well know that this has been an issue for the last 50 or 60 years, if not longer, we might speak of the thousands of years over which the conflicts there have lasted, and quite simply the fact it has not been fully resolved is not, I think, going to be a disappointment for any realist. By way of contrast there were areas where we had much more marked success, the already mentioned Eastern Partnership project with six countries from the former USSR. No mention has yet been made of the important EU-USA summit on 5th April, when we were able to arrange a visit to Prague by the new American President Barack Obama, for a very interesting discussion, debating several specific items such as energy, the economic crisis, climate change and in the foreign policy field Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran in particular. A number of three-cornered meetings took place, represented by the Chairman of the Council, the General Secretary of the Council and the Chairman of the European Commission with a number of foreign partners, with Japan, Canada, China, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and an informal summit meeting with Jordan. With the exception of Canada where the role of Chairman of the European Council was taken by then-Prime Minister Topolánek, the function of Chairman of the European Council was filled by Czech President Václav Klaus. There was a whole series of summit meetings at ministerial level. I would also mention EU expansion, which was a very important priority for the presidency, for which there were great ambitions. I would say that it was simply for objective reasons that this priority was not fully achieved. On the one hand we wanted to make significant progress in the negotiations with Croatia, but the topic was delayed thanks to the Croatia - Slovenia dispute. We did what we could, but unfortunately, the shift achieved was not significant. You know that (in spite of) the position of the incoming Swedish presidency which to a certain extent distanced itself from this dispute when saying that if the countries could not resolve it themselves the Swedish Presidency did not see much scope for itself, we succeeded in progressing the application of Montenegro, which we submitted to the Commission for assessment, which in itself was not entirely easy, because this step was subject to approval by the Council, we also accepted Albania's application and continued in the process of liberalising the visa regime for some Balkan countries, particularly in respect of Macedonia. So that is briefly all from me. I can now take questions and hand proceedings over to my colleague Mrs Hendrichová.

Jana Hendrichová, Section for Preparation of the Presidency: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I will give you some summary data on the Czech Presidency, which you can also follow on the electronic presentation, namely how many events took place during the presidency in the Czech Republic, in Brussels, Strasbourg and elsewhere in the world. According to our calculations there were some 3000 events, in which we are very similar to other preceding presidencies, these were meetings of the European Council, Councils of Ministers, many working groups, EU representations at international organisation, for example the UN. Presentations and discussions in the European Parliament and many meetings at Czech ambassador level in countries throughout the world. Of these, some 550 meetings took place in the Czech Republic alone.

In our central records, organised directly by the Section for the Presidency, we have 101 events at the highest level, 80 further events were organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, around 90 were accompanying conferences and seminars, often done by the non-profit sector, and also by employers' organisations on topics related to the main topics of the Presidency. Of these specialist conferences we can as an example mention the Holocaust conference which is currently taking place, arranged in cooperation with the Minister for European Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Forum 2000. We can include among them the energy conference which took place in January on a current topic for the Czech Presidency.

Concerning cultural activities, we have registered some 500, of which 385 were under the management of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which organised them in cooperation with our representative offices throughout the world, some 20 were under our central coordination, we worked with the organisers and provided financial support. That many events took place in the Czech Republic was entirely deliberate, we were working from the positive experiences and best practice of others. It is well known that the presidency helps a country to give access to what is going, what is attractive for the presiding country, not only to EU member states, but to delegates from other countries who come to take part also, to journalists from around the world and not just the EU. The presidency has contributed to the Czech public having closer access to some EU agendas, as of course do experts working in the civil service, the working approach of the EU Council has become much more familiar than it was before the presidency.

I have mentioned 101 events. On their scale, these were organised in cooperation with government departments and involved up to 450 delegates at the largest summit meetings, of which there were seven. Here two are missing and must be added in. With the USA, on employment, Eastern Partnership, the Southern Corridor, within the Czech Republic summit meeting were held with China, Canada and Japan at Prime Ministerial or Presidential level. Before the presidency began there was a meeting of the whole government with a conference of European Parliamentary groups and at its very beginning one of the first events was a meeting of the government with the European Commission. 14 informal ministerial meetings of the EU Council took place in the Czech Republic; these were in the Congress Centre in Prague and in the regions. I will mention the following towns, Hluboká, Luhačovice, Litoměřice, Brno and Mariánské Lázně but of course events also took place in other locations for example the meeting and programme for EU ambassadors took place in the Ostrava region, as well as in Central Bohemia and the Hradec Králové region. In the Czech Republic we organised 70 sessions of working groups, conferences and seminars. Here are further interesting statistics on the presidency. 30 thousand delegates came here for events, with some 15 thousand of them through our central coordination. Events were reported on by 3730 journalists of which 2049 were from abroad. The greatest number of journalists attended the summit with the USA, with 900 and 600 on these three linked summits, that is at the employment summit; at the two subsequent ones, Eastern Partnership and Southern Corridor we counted some 600 journalists in attendance, and about 300 at the Ecofin and Hymnach councils. The presidency website was very successful with 1.9 million visitors during the period that we can track, so more will need to be added up to the end of June; this is the largest number ever achieved, when compared with preceding presidencies. In January alone there were 500 thousand visitors. We can compare this with Germany where there were 220 thousand during the first month of their presidency and with France, with 170 thousand, so in effect it was perhaps three times as many. Translated very quickly, there were more 4 thousand standard pages of text, the main languages English and French, 80 thousand copies of various brochures were issued to delegates and the public, 30 thousand accreditation cards, not only for delegates and journalists, but for service personal from the police and similar, 14 thousand ties and 7 thousand scarves in the Czech Republic alone, 36 ballpoint pens. Interpreting was arranged in the Czech Republic at 65 events, at the largest of which, the Eastern Partnership, interpreting was provided into 28 languages, not only all the EU languages. At that event alone there were 80 interpreters. Again we accommodated some 30 thousand foreign guests, there were 89 liaison officers who worked with the member state delegations and in addition to English and French knew the languages of the countries they were accompanying to various events, final-year university students or recent graduates.

Škoda VW loaned us 70 cars, 70 minivans and 70 buses were taken on lease. I will not attempt to name all the activities involved in logistics and communications for the events. They are available for anyone to read and imagine what goes on in support of important meetings. Nor is this list in itself so interesting as the fact that things had to be prepared in advance so that events could take place simultaneously in Prague and the regions, or events take place immediately after one another; so that it worked for the whole of the half-year, not just as individual events, but the whole of the logistics had to be planned for the half-year and we had to be able to imagine all the possible consequences in context. Here, one of the last items gives a selection of the main cultural events of the presidency. Here we have reached the end, as far as I am aware, you will receive an electronic copy. You can use this to find your bearings in the detail. I will mention perhaps the last thing, yesterday the closing evening took place, a cultural handover of the presidency to Sweden in the presence of the Swedish State Secretary for European Affairs and the Czech Prime Minister, at the Smetanova Litomyšl festival. You will of course remember that there was an evening at the National Theatre at the start, as well as a Czech Ball in Brussels. Before this weekend there was a street party on the communication topics of the presidency, there were various photographic exhibitions Via Luccis, depicting the last 20 years in questions of politics and social issues. There was a very successful exhibition of the Decadent, which had been shown previously in Prague. It was presented in Brussels and Namur and at every presidency event in a region a eurofestival was put on, where there were not only competitions and discussions for children and adults, commissioners and ministers who were at the Council meetings could also join in. The intention was to make the presidency more accessible to the Czech and global public through the cultural programme.

I will not mention all these events, but we can come back to them. The penultimate information is about the financing of the presidency, it seems to have vanished, but no matter. As you know, 1.9 billion crowns were reserved for the presidency from general treasury funds for the years 2007 to 2009. The ministries also made reserves estimated at 1.4 billion crowns, these sums do not represent any increase over normal budgets. The presidency is taken to be a project for the whole of the civil service for the period of a half-year, ministries also contribute their own money towards it. On the final accounting I want only to say that the Ministry of Finance wishes us to provide data on financing during the summer, by the end of the holidays and the financial assessment will take place after that. It cannot be done now, because many payments are still going through. Invoices are still coming in day by day, so to be fair, we can only complete the financial settlement in the autumn and the final assessment will be at the end of the year as part of the state budget report. In addition we made use of partner financing, our partners will be named immediately after this, and in addition also some presidency events were partially financed by the European Commission, which always jointly financed them with the Czech civil service; the EU Council contributed significantly to events in Brussels, although we also provided finances for meetings there. We also used the interpreting service which operates for European institutions at 19 events. At the 5 largest events this was provided gratis.

At the end here is an overview of presidency partners. AW Net which provided the computers which were loaned for work in the Congress Centre in Prague, Microsoft for the matching software, DHL provided some delivery services, particularly of ornamental and promotional materials throughout the Czech Republic. These partners were not able to finance all the technical or delivery costs, because these were relatively large, and could not be covered purely by sponsorship. Overall we had the usual partners who supplied mineral water and beer, as is normal in EU countries, so with Martini (?? - probably Mattoni) 1.3 million crowns, Plzeňský Prazdroj breweries 1 million crowns for drinks in the Czech Republic and in Brussels at top meetings. We also made use of a partnership with O2 who provided temporary use of 100 mobile phones. We also had media partners, who are also given here. So much by way of introduction. If you have any questions, I am ready to answer them. I hope.

Michaela Jelínková: Your questions please, here in the second row:

Euroactiv: Good morning, I have a question for Mr Mora. One of the priorities in energy was also a single market for the intonation distribution of electricity. A conference in Ostrava was devoted to this topic, as well as conclusions at the March Council meeting. I would like to ask how the member states and the European Parliament reacted to this proposal? How did the negotiations end? Thank you.

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: This was adopted as one of our tasks, but at the same time we had realistic ambitions. We did not believe that we would achieve a unified tariff. As you yourself know, the Czech Republic is one of the countries which suffers from this, because the Czech distribution system is also used, as a function of the Czech Republic's geographical position, by other energy operators to send electricity via us and unfortunately there is no payment or unified tariff for this. We were not able to achieve a unified energy tariff, we will continue in our discussions and let us hope that something will happen in the autumn, but the very fact that we have opened up the topic is an important initiative, moreover there is not even agreement inside the association of individual operators, I'm not sure what it's called, but even there there is no agreement.

Michaela Jelínková: Thank you. ČTK, please.

ČTK: The Prime Minister listed all the things that were successful, but apart from the fall of the government did not say anything more about what did not go as well. You yourself mentioned that only a certain amount of progress was made in the integration of the Western Balkans. Could you summarise three, perhaps five things, which were not completed in the way you expected when compared to your original assumptions? Just briefly, thank you.

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: Let me think a minute. Not that I think that everything was quite so perfect, but apart from the larger priorities which I monitored myself, I cannot speak in complete detail for all the ministries, but of the larger (priorities) the Balkans were one topic where we thought it would go better, but that was not our fault, it got caught up on the Slovenia-Croatia dispute. On the other hand as far as the other countries are concerned, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, then there it is a matter of their not being very visible among many EU countries, the stronger ones. I think that we were not prepared for this, if you will give me a minute, I may remember, at the moment I really don't know.

Michaela Jelínková: Next, please.

Radiožurnál: I would like to ask, of the priorities, which would you wish the Swedes to continue with?

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: We have the idea that they will continue with all of them. They will have to continue work on the economic matters, that is a sine qua non. In the energy area then I think that they will concentrate on energy efficiency in contrast to our diversification efforts. I have forgotten one important topic, my apologies, under the energy heading we must certainly mention the issue of climate change. This will be a major topic for the Swedes, some countries were disappointed where we moved it, but both the EU and others thought that our approach was very realistic, there is no point at the global level in showing one's hand too soon on how much money we will put into financing adaptive measures in the poorest countries. Let others state their position as well, the EU will respond appropriately. In this area they will continue to work very intensively. During their presidency there will be the conference in Copenhagen, which will be dealing with this. Of the foreign policy topics the key issue for the Swedes is expansion, but I think that you followed the statements last week, where it was put very realistically. Turkey, I forgot, among the failures, there we hoped that we would succeed in opening at least two negotiation chapters, but unfortunately that did not happen for various reasons. For example on energy it is linked to Cyprus. All these topics are sensitive and we think that the Swedes will continue and what will be important, even if they are not saying it out loud as we did, because we focused on policies with results, will without doubt be the question of institutions. The second Irish referendum will take place during the presidency and its result will influence the course of the presidency. Nominations for the European Commission must be completed, our political decision on the European Commission Chairman must be confirmed, this will be a major topic. I would see them continuing in all areas, with the greatest divergence being on climate change and somewhat in the energy field.

Michaela Jelínková: Thank you. Next, please.

Respekt: I have two questions, one concerns civil servants. When I have spoken to many political commentators and diplomats, one thing that has gone well has been the team. I am interested in what is going to happen to those people. I am not sure whether this is a question for you or for the politicians. A while ago there appeared a story that Prime Minister Fischer would like to retain them in the civil service, is anything happening in that regard? The second question is about the debate over the Czech Republic representative on the European Commission, perhaps one for Mr Mora in view of his knowledge of the environment there. In January when the gas crisis was being resolved that the Czech Republic might consider the energy or similar portfolio, if you think that these chances have changed or whether a part will be played by the fact that the Czech Presidency hinges on the fall of the government and opened up that topic and achieved success for example in the Southern Corridor. Thank you.

Jana Hendrichová, Section for Preparation of the Presidency: There were temporary open-ended contracts of employment with 336 civil servants. Several weeks ago we began to consider what their futures might be, when it is likely that they will be considering their decision on whether to stay in the civil service and what they might have already prepared. About 100 people were at the permanent representation in Brussels. For the moment we know from current data that the situation is relatively optimistic in that about 115, about one-third, have obtained permanent positions in the civil service. Our interest was in not losing from the civil service people who underwent very strict selection procedures and have overwhelmingly proved their worth. If they find places through their own contacts with European institutions or the private sector, that is clearly not a bad thing, but it would be right to motivate all our departments to pay greater attention to them. Based on this data these people are in 19 offices, not only the central coordination office and the Foreign Ministry, although the largest number are in the latter Ministry, 72 in agriculture, 33 in our Section including several employees of the Section for European Affairs. These people should be having personal interviews concerning the interest of those who have not yet found jobs in finding work in the civil service.

In the event that they show interest they will receive recommendations ranging from head of department to deputy minister or minister level. In the case of those worthy of special consideration the Minister for European Affairs will consult with other ministers on career opportunities for specific employees who wish to be employed in another department. I did not say at the beginning what the situation is with those 115. Often for example when they went to the permanent representation in Brussels they had been released from their sector or had been considering options at the Foreign Ministry in the diplomatic services, so were either released or went back without difficulty to their original positions. My také vyhodnocení k čemu všemu tyto korky povedou, to zjišťování zájmu, jednání o lidech, kteří se dosud neuplatnili a jejich data budou poskytnuty v databázi výboru EU, budou dostupná všem pracovníkům státní správy kteří se zabývají předsednictvím na vedoucích pozicích. We will perform the first assessment in July as to whether more of them have found jobs. The assessment will be performed once per month and we assume that by September everything will be clear. There may remnants of interest, we may nevertheless go back to some people, in that they provide their details even when leaving the civil service, so that we may turn to them in the future since we will know where they are, in the event that we know of their interest. I trust that this answers your question.

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: As far as the second question is concerned by representative do you mean the Commissioner? You are right, the presidency opens up a better opportunity for obtaining an interesting portfolio. You know that the decision of the June Council states that the Commission will start to be constituted when the legal basis will be clear. According to all available information this will be clear at the beginning of October following the referendum in Ireland. Certain discussions will take place before the nomination of José Manuel Barroso as European Commission Chairman is confirmed; I do not know for certain, but it is likely there will be a greater chance of obtaining an influential portfolio if we have for it a candidate who has the ability to be a Commissioner, with the performance and authority and everything that goes with it. So, we have had an enormous opportunity to show what we can do, and I think that Mr Barroso has also noted a number of Czech politicians in chairmanship positions of individual councils and so on. I think that this gives us a better chance than other member states have, and that we could obtain something interesting, but as I say, we must present a candidate for the portfolio in question.

Michaela Jelínková: Thank you. Next, please.

Rádio Česko: I would like to ask what cooperation with Sweden will look like, because this presidency programme was prepared as a three-way effort between France, the Czech Republic and Sweden, how intensive this cooperation will be, whether people will be earmarked within the departments for communication and cooperation with Sweden in their areas of competence.

Marek Mora, Head of the European Affairs Section: Special people will not be earmarked, but it will depend on Sweden on whether it asks for this; you know that certain consultations are taking place, for example with energy ambassador Bartuška, no further employees will be earmarked for this. All of us who have been involved in cooperation are willing to help at any time. I think that Sweden knows this, on the other hand we are very careful about this, we do not want to give the slightest impression that we want to interfere in this. If Sweden should request it, we are willing and open for any kind of consultations.

Michaela Jelínková: Thank you, if they are no further questions, and it appears that there are not: I will now close this press conference. In conclusion I would like to thank you all for this half-year of intensive cooperation, I think that the presidency has been a surprise in all kinds of things for all involved. It is now successfully behind us, and now we will see how it goes for Sweden to whom we wish good luck. Our thanks once more for your cooperation. Goodbye.

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