One of the Czech Republic’s top priorities​ during its
six months in the chair of the Council of the
European Union will be to cope with the influx of
displaced Ukrainians forced to flee because of
Russia’s invasion,

Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Bartoš

told the European Committee of the Regions on 30
June. He also pledged to try to make it easier for
regions and cities to secure EU funding for the
support of refugees and speed up the transition
towards safe and sustainable energy.

Outlining the Czech priorities for its Presidency,
Deputy Prime Minister Bartoš focused on the
consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine,
highlighting the need to end the EU’s dependence on
Russian fuel, to address the worsening problem of
energy poverty in Europe, and to prepare to help
Ukraine’s reconstruction. He also emphasised that “the
fight against disinformation, cyber and hybrid war”
would be a “high priority”.

Noting that the first Czech Presidency in 2009 was
marked by an energy crisis in Europe caused by Russia’s
decision to halt supplies to Ukraine, Deputy Prime
Minister Bartoš said: “The Ukrainian crisis is here
again and it is worse, and it is triggered by a war
started by Russia. Our first priority is to cope with
the refugee crisis. We will look at how to help the
most vulnerable and most affected. We will look to make
finances more flexible. We cannot be dependent on
countries that directly endanger our future; energy
poverty has become a real threat in all EU member
states. We will also want to contribute to post-war
reconstruction, because the stability of Ukraine is
crucial for the future.”

The President of the European Committee of the Regions,

Vasco Alves Cordeiro

(PT/PES), member of a Regional Parliament of the

peaking a day after his election, said: “The Committee
of the Regions welcomes the Czech Presidency

will to strengthen the voice of regions and cities in
the EU. The Czech Presidency starts in a critical
moment for our Union. A war on our continent, the
pandemic: cities and regions have been at the forefront
to mitigate the consequences. Let’s work together to
make our Union stronger, fairer and more sustainable.”

Deputy Prime Minister Bartoš, who is also Minister for
Regional Development, said that the Czech Presidency
would also launch a political debate on the future of
cohesion policy, with an outcome in November at the
level of national ministers. He praised cohesion policy
as a policy that “brings the EU closer to its
citizens”, that “has its own value” and helps to
improve public governance. He indicated that the
objective would be to ensure that cohesion policy is a
“strategic development strategy for the regions of the

Shortly before Deputy Prime Minister Bartoš spoke,

Zdeněk Hřib

(CZ/Greens), mayor of Prague, said that it was “vital
for the EU to financially support cities more” as they
seek to help refugees “not just to feel safe”, but also
to realise their potential. Per capita, Czechia is one
of the countries hosting the highest number of
Ukrainian refugees.

Policies on which the EU’s member states are likely to
see the opinions of the EU’s regions and cities – via
the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) – during
the Czech Presidency cover topics ranging from the
reconstruction of Ukrain

and the future of the Eastern Partnership to support
for a green

transition in coal- and energy-intensive regions, and
housing rentals. Hours after Deputy Prime Minister
Bartoš spoke, the CoR, six European and four Ukrainian
associations for regions and cities launched an
alliance to support the reconstruction of Ukraine. The
Alliance was formed at the request of Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, with the support of the
presidents of the European Council and European

Among the events on which the European Committee of the
Regions and the Czech Presidency are collaborating are
a meeting of the CoR’s political leadership focused on
support for Ukraine (Prague, September) and meetings with cities and regions
from would-be members of the European Union (Brussels,
July) and from Ukraine and other countries in the
Eastern Partnership (Liberec, November). They are also
working together on the role of cities and regions in
tackling climate change, tied to events in September
and October leading up to the United Nations’ COP27
global climate talks, while the social implications of
decarbonisation will be addressed in a joint CoR-Czech
Presidency conference on a ‘just transition’ for coal
regions (November). Regional development will also be a
focus, with a conference and study visit in Prague on
urban mobility (July), events at the European Week of
Regions and Cities (October), and a seminar on smart
villages in Lednice (October).


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