The Czech Republic is still three weeks away from taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. However, the heads of the Czech Embassies in the EU feel that the presidency has already begun for them.
“We have one foot in the (EU) presidency door,” says Jaroslav Zajíček, one of the four ambassadors at the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU, referring to the case when one of the Czech ministers took over the EU Council after his French colleague had to leave for Paris.
“We know what the topics look like, we know what we can expect, but we won’t know definitively until 30 June,” says Edita Hrdá, the Czech ambassador to the EU. On the day she mentions, the French presidency ends. The Czech Republic will then take over the presidency.
Aiming for continuity
However, Czech diplomats are already discussing with their French colleagues what will be completed this month and what will “fall” to Prague. Especially on matters where it is known that France will not be able to do them in time, the Czechs are also invited to the talks of the EU Council with the European Commission and the EU Parliament.
According to Zajíček, the question of what the Czech presidency will do is often the last point of ministerial councils. “Individual ministers are already making preliminary announcements about the Czech priorities,” he says. These priorities will not be officially published until next week, on 15 June.
Temporary change of “set-up.”
According to Zajíček, the Czech behavior in the EU is already changing. “When you participate in this (member state negotiations), you are no longer pushing the national agenda,” the Czech diplomat says.
This is how a presiding country must behave, but when gradually taking over the plan, its successor must do the same, “because you know that you will soon be in charge.”
According to Zajíček, this is “a challenging set-up to change.” Usually, a member state looks after its priorities first and foremost. But if it holds the presidency, its main task is to find consensus and compromises that suit everyone as far as possible.