Good evening every one. First of all let me thank you, dear Prime Minister, dear Petr, for your warm welcome. It’s 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 at a turning point for Europe: never has our Union faced such great challenges.
I welcome the priorities of your Presidency. We have many challenges ahead: the war in Ukraine, security and defence, energy, and the resilience of our economies. And I confirm that on October 6th and 7th, you will host 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 hosting Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
The EU will continue to provide robust support to Ukraine: financial, humanitarian and political. We have already mobilised 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 for 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 give Ukraine and Moldova candidate status. This is a historic moment for those countries, but also for the future of our European Union.
We will also work together to bolster Europe’s defence and security capabilities and your work to quickly develop the Hybrid Toolbox will be key to counter hybrid threats such as foreign interference, disinformation and disruptions in cyberspace.
We will of course also cooperate with partners in NATO. We were together a few hours ago and yesterday, and we participated in the NATO Summit, in Madrid. It was the occasion to reaffirm the strong ties, the strong strategic partnership between the EU and NATO.
Energy security is another example of the destructive impact of Russia’s war, and together, we must live up to our goal of phasing out Russian gas, oil and coal. We will also work together to reinforce our energy security by diversifying our energy sources, bolstering energy efficiency and speeding up renewable and low-energy sources.
And you will have the important task of leading the negotiations on the different topics related to this important common challenge. And I know how you are personally committed on the table of the European Council to make sure that the European Union will take the right decisions, because we do understand the serious consequences for the businesses, for the families, for the households, because of the inflation, because of those prices, and it’s the responsibility of the EU to take the right decisions; we will cooperate, we will coordinate, we will work together, and I’m confident that we will be able to make progress on that important topic.
Finally, I welcome your strong focus on 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’s this idea of a European Political Community. And a few days ago, when we were together in Brussels, we had over the dinner an in-depth exchange of views on this important question, this important topic. The goal would be to foster dialogue at the highest political level and to boost cooperation between European countries that share common interests.
We will work together 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 the 6th and the 7th of October. But we will try to do everything, to consult the countries that are supposed to participate in such a European platform, and we’ll see if it’s possible in October. If not, at least we will do everything to have this meeting in Prague, by the end of the year, and by the end of your rotating Presidency. But I repeat it, what we prefer is the possibility to organise this meeting in October, in parallel with the European Council meeting that will take place here in Prague.
Finally, I had the occasion, just before our meeting, to visit the memorial of Milada Horakova. And In these dark times in Europe, her fight to preserve democratic institutions is a powerful symbol. Her legacy, together with the bravery of Czechs and Slovaks who protested the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, is more important than ever.
Dear Petr, dear friends, rotating presidencies have the power to drive forward our priorities and to address urgent challenges. I know 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 common strong values. Thank you.