Law and governance
The second six-month Czech EU presidency, which ends in a few days, has been successful as Czechia has contributed to the European unity and negotiated several significant compromises, mainly in energy, said Researcher at the SYRI National Institute Petr Kaniok. With the second presidency, Czech politicians have understood its sense, that it should be mainly perceived as service to partners, and they have managed to avoid controversies and have not tried to impose their views on the others, said Kaniok.
"The ending presidency has better understood its sense, that it primarily lies in patient negotiations and seeking compromises. The Czech Republic has fared quite surprisingly well in this, and the presidency has considerably improved our reputation in the European Union," Kaniok said.
The EU is now in a solid condition. The Czech Republic has managed to reach progress in many legislative proposals, such as in digitalisation and the environmental legislation. Sweden, which will assume the presidency of the European Council after Czechia in January 2023, has thus a lot to follow, Kaniok noted.
The hot issue the Czech presidency is passing on and that has troubled the EU for long is Hungary and its state of rule of law, Kaniok pointed out. "Czechia has not pushed the agenda so much in this respect, maybe also due to the still existing sentiment of part of the Civic Democrats (ODS) for Viktor Orban, which is incomprehensible to me," Kaniok said.
Though Czech politicians have scored success during the Czech EU presidency, they should not rest on their laurels, Kaniok said.
"Dozens of particular people have contributed to the success and besides, they have gained a lot of contacts and experience. A great task of the Czech Republic and the government is now to develop and use this potential. It would be a mistake if the failure from 2009, when most of the skilful people who came to work for the Czech EU presidency disappeared from the state administration and the presidency know-how remained unused, were repeated,“ Kaniok stressed.
However, he criticised the presidency communication towards the domestic audience and its "low visibility" and interconnected influence of the Czech Republic in the EU.
"Unfortunately, Czech politics has so far long presented the EU rather as 'they' and 'Brussels', which the presidency could have helped change. In my opinion, the government has underestimated this and it should have done it much better. I would mainly expect the activity of Czech European Affairs Minister who could have dealt with communication," Kaniok noted.