Remarks by President Charles Michel following his meeting in Prague with Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala

Goodnight all. Allow me first of all to thank you, dear Prime Minister, dear Petr, for your warm welcome. It is a great pleasure for me to be back in Prague, and to be back for an important moment, because in a few hours it will be the official start, the formal start of your rotating presidency. You are taking the reins of a turning point for Europe: our Union has never been faced with such great challenges.

I salute the priorities of your presidency. Many challenges await us: the war in Ukraine, security and defence, the energy and resilience of our economies. And I confirm that on 6 and 7 October, you will welcome the 27 European leaders for the informal meeting of the European Council. Thank you very much for that.

The EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine will be at the heart of your presidency. I would like to thank you for your support on sanctions and for welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

The EU will continue to provide strong support to Ukraine: financial, humanitarian and political. We have already mobilized 2 billion euros to provide military equipment.

But Ukraine needs more. And we are committed to providing more: more military support and more financial support. We are also ready to play an important role in the reconstruction of Ukraine: the destruction is massive and so are the needs.

Another important element: the war is also reshaping the European Union. Just last week, at our European Council meeting, we agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. This is a historic moment for these countries, but also for the future of our European Union.

We will also work together to strengthen Europe’s defense and security capabilities and your work to rapidly develop the hybrid toolbox will be key to countering hybrid threats such as foreign interference, disinformation and cyberspace disruptions. .

Of course, we will also cooperate with our NATO partners. We were together a few hours ago and yesterday, and we took part in the NATO summit in Madrid. It was an opportunity to reaffirm the strong ties, the strong strategic partnership between the EU and NATO.

Energy security is another example of the destructive impact of the Russian war, and together we must achieve our goal of phasing out Russian gas, oil and coal. We will also work together to strengthen our energy security by diversifying our energy sources, increasing energy efficiency and accelerating renewable and low-energy sources.

And you will have the important task of leading the negotiations on the various subjects related to this important common challenge. And I know how much you are personally committed to the European Council table to ensure that the European Union takes the right decisions, because we understand the serious consequences for businesses, for families, for households, because inflation, because of these prices, and it is the responsibility of the EU to take the right decisions; we will cooperate, we will coordinate, we will work together, and I am convinced that we can make progress on this important subject.

Finally, I welcome the importance you attach to strengthening the values ​​of democracy and the rule of law.

We also want to work, and you mentioned it, with you on this new idea to strengthen security and stability on our European continent: it is this idea of ​​a European political community. And a few days ago, when we were together in Brussels, we had an in-depth exchange of views over dinner on this important question, this important subject. The aim would be to promote dialogue at the highest political level and to strengthen cooperation between European countries sharing common interests.

We will work with you, with President Macron, who proposed this idea, and we agreed to propose to have the first meeting of this European Political Community in Prague, under your rotating presidency. The best would be to have this meeting on October 6th and 7th. But we will try to do everything, to consult the countries supposed to participate in such a European platform, and we will see if it is possible in October. If not, at least we will do everything to ensure that this meeting takes place in Prague, by the end of the year, and by the end of your rotating presidency. But I repeat, what we prefer is the possibility of organizing this meeting in October, in parallel with the meeting of the European Council which will take place here in Prague.

Finally, I had the opportunity, just before our meeting, to visit the Milada Horakova memorial. And in these dark times in Europe, his fight to preserve democratic institutions is a strong symbol. His legacy, along with the bravery of the Czechs and Slovaks who protested the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, is more important than ever.

Dear Petr, dear friends, rotating presidencies have the power to advance our priorities and address pressing challenges. I know that we can count on your leadership and on the people of the Czech Republic, just as you can count on the EU, on me, on the full support and cooperation of the European Union.

I look forward to our close cooperation to make Europe safer and more prosperous, inspired by our strong common values. Thanks.

Berta D. Wells