Press Releases

7. 1. 2009 20:42

Prague Will Host the Informal Meeting of the General Affairs

On 8 January 2009, Prague will host the Informal Ministerial Meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC) under the auspices of the Czech Presidency. The summit will be the first in the series of informal ministerial meetings that will take place during the Czech Presidency.

The aim of the informal meeting, which has been intentionally scheduled at the beginning of the Czech Presidency, is to discuss, together with European partners, a common approach leading to the accomplishment of the main priorities and tasks of the Czech Presidency. At the same time, it will provide an opportunity to debate the current challenges that the EU faces in the area of international policy.

The meeting will be chaired by the Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra. Opening remarks will be made by the Czech Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek.

A number of ministers of foreign and European affairs and State Secretaries of EU Member States will take part in the meeting. The European Commission will be represented by the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, Margot Wallström, the Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs.

An important theme of the meeting with be energy security, which has become very topical due to the current dispute between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies. The ministerial meeting will be one of the important steps currently taken by the Czech Presidency to settle the dispute and restore regular gas supplies as soon as possible. The Czech Republic wants to present its proposals to strengthen the energy security to its EU partners. These proposals will include, inter alia, clarification of the status of transit countries, emphasis on transparent relations between these countries and the energy suppliers, and the preparation of a summit on the topic of the Southern corridor.

The meeting will also include a working lunch dealing with transatlantic relations, in which the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, is due to participate. In the afternoon there should be time for debate on institutional matters.

A number of ministers will take part in today’s gala opening of the Czech EU Presidency in the National Theatre. After the meeting, a gala dinner will be hosted in the Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle.

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