The Czech Presidency of the EU faced a triple crisis – energy, fiscal and food. It continues to pursue its set priorities, but much of the political energy is focused on solving the energy crisis, and the biggest challenge is to combine these solutions with the transition to renewables. This commented E.g. Ambassador Biserka Benishevadirector of “European Affairs” at PanEuropa Bulgaria, on the air of the show “In progress” with host Delyan Petrishki.
“Even when it was defining the priorities it would follow for its presidency, the Czech Republic had indicated energy security and the sustainability of democratic institutions, it was prepared. Now, however, energy is a very hot topic and all EU citizens are affected. The Czech Presidency is probing all member states on what measures they expect from the EC, and after the extraordinary council on September 9, the Commission will be tasked with proposing concrete solutions,” she noted.
Ambassador Benisheva recalls that in the last decade the EU had to deal with a cascade of crises. The solutions to the 2020 health crisis proposed by the EC, as well as the recovery and resilience plan, build on the lessons of the 2008 crisis.
“Then he committed to fiscal measures, which led to unemployment and deepening economic problems. Now the social consequences of the crisis have been taken into account and a different approach has been taken,” she points out.
Regarding the energy crisis, there is a general consensus that measures should be taken at EU level. No country can deal with the consequences alone, but there is no agreement on what measures to take, says Ambassador Benisheva. The energy mix is national, with each member state determining its own share of coal, nuclear, gas and renewables, meaning that countries are affected differently.
“The crisis will have social consequences, a cold winter is ahead, which may be preceded by a hot autumn with dissatisfaction among citizens due to high prices.”
The Czech Presidency has already polled all member states on their positions on the crisis, with the poll ending as recently as September 4. A report has already been submitted summarizing which scenarios and which measures would be supported by member states. An emergency council has been convened on September 9, after which member states have several days to consider their response, after which the EC will be tasked with proposing concrete solutions.
“In pan-European policies, the gradual deepening of integration between the members and the search for consensus is one of the roles of the presidency,” Benisheva is emphatic.
According to her, the ideas of removing the veto are exaggerated, since in practice many decisions are taken by qualified majority, and on important issues such as the EU budget and foreign policy, decisions cannot be taken by unanimity.
“Foreign policy is the sovereign right of the member countries, there the principle of unanimity is the only one possible. There are voices calling for a qualified majority in the EU in the introduction of sanctions and human rights. Scholz recently called for a reform of foreign policy decision-making after the enlargement to the Western Balkans, as it will become increasingly difficult to achieve unanimity. Achieving unanimity is indeed a slow process, but the member countries would not give up on it,” Benisheva believes.
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