The Presidency of the Council of the EU is one of the most important rights and demanding tasks resulting from EU membership. The role of the presiding country is not only organisational but also mediating, political, and representational. The Czech Republic assumed its second six-month presidency on 1 July 2022. Each member state decides on its priorities before its presidency starts and submits them to the Council and the European Parliament. The presiding member states also team up in a three-member group (trio), which prepares a joint programme that includes the priorities of all three states (in our case France, Czech Republic, and Sweden). This programme is based on the current developments in the EU.
Preparations for the Czech Presidency in 2022 were started in July 2018. The preparation and performance of the Czech Presidency is carried out by the Prime Minister through the Section for European Affairs of the Office of the Government and in close cooperation with all ministries, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU.
The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic has also registered an internet domain via which it will post current information on the Czech Presidency.
Cooperation with the Council of the European Union
The Council is an essential EU decision-maker. The Council represents the member states and is vested with extensive law-making and executive powers. Council meetings are attended by representatives from each member state at a ministerial level. Each minister on the Council is authorised on behalf of their government and is answerable to the national parliament and citizens.
Which minister will be present at which meeting depends on the agenda. The Council of the EU administers a large number of areas and therefore meets in multiple configurations. In 2009, ten basic configurations of the Council of the EU were defined. In terms of monitoring the activities, for the ERO the TTE – Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council is an important configuration, and, where relevant, some other configurations are marginally important, such as general affairs (GAC) or consumer protection.
Each EU member state is represented in Brussels through its Permanent Representation. They are headed by Permanent Representatives, usually highly experienced diplomats. Together, they form the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), which, for example, prepares the ministerials. Coreper meets every week and its key mission is to ensure that only the most important and sensitive issues are addressed at the ministerial level. Coreper’s agenda is prepared by working parties and committees of the Council of the EU, composed of member states’ experts.
An informal meeting of the Council of the EU in the country holding the Presidency takes place once during each Presidency.
Cooperation with the European Commission and the European Parliament
In Brussels, ERO’s key contact is the Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER). In the context of its mission to protect consumers, ERO also keeps in touch with the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), and in case of need with other DGs, such as the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) or the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT).
ERO also maintains contacts with other EU institutions, such as the bodies of the European Council and of the European Parliament, as part of the development of the EU’s secondary energy legislation. These contacts were particularly important when drafting the third energy package in the working group for energy and its final approval by the relevant bodies of the European Council and of the European Parliament; this took place between 2007 and 2009. In this process, ERO accepted national responsibility for debates on amended legislation on network access for cross-border electricity trade and on access to gas transmission systems, and also for the discussions on the Regulation establishing ACER.
Energy policy and key european legislation
Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)
- Supply security: Article 122 TFEU;
- Energy Networks: Articles 170-172 TFEU;
- Coal: Protocol 37 clarifies the financial consequences of the expiry in 2002 of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Treaty;
- Nuclear energy: Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty) constitutes the legal basis for most of the EU’s steps in nuclear energy.
Other provisions bearing on the energy policy:
Five dimensions of the energy union (2015):
- Diversify Europe’s sources of energy and ensure energy security through solidarity and cooperation between EU countries;
- Ensure a fully integrated internal energy market enabling the free flow of energy through the EU through adequate infrastructure and without technical or regulatory barriers;
- Improve energy efficiency to reduce dependence on energy imports, lower emissions, and drive jobs and growth;
- Decarbonise the economy and move towards a low-carbon economy in line with the Paris Agreement;
- Support research in low-carbon and clean energy technologies by prioritising research and innovation to drive the energy transition and improve competitiveness.
Article 194 TFEU sets out that the EU and its member states share competences in certain areas of the energy policy, which signals a shift towards a common energy policy. Nevertheless, each member state retains its “right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy sources and the general structure of its energy supply” (Article 194 (2)).