Slovakia and the French and Czech EU Presidencies

Slovak Foreign Policy Association
The most important issue within the French EU-Presidency was the climate and energy package. At the beginning of the presidency, Slovakia with the other new EU member states expressed dissatisfaction with the Commission’s evaluation of emissions’ production when it used the reference data only from 2005 onwards.[1] Hungary, Slovakia and others, recorded a dramatic decrease in emissions in the 1990s due to their industrial recession. Before the summit, Prime Minister Fico declared the country’s support with some reservations for the package and appreciated the “constructive approach” of president Sarkozy.[2] Slovakia considered the summit a success because the country’s proposal for additional redistribution of emission quotas was accepted and also the decrease in emissions from 1990 to 2005 would be taken into account. During 2013-2020, Slovakia should gain 500-800 million Euros every year through the increase in emission permits. Prime Minister Fico also declared that the climate-energy package should not influence the energy prices in Slovakia as other countries worried.[3]
The Slovak MEP, Irena Belohorská, member of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, evaluated the cooperation of the French Presidency with the European Parliament very positively. President Sarkozy showed, according to Belohorská, respect towards the European Parliament when he regularly invited the European Parliament’s leadership to consultations. The Czech Presidency so far exhibited rather weak communication with the European Parliament.[4] Other Slovak MEPs were a little bit more critical towards France’s presidency. For example, Ján Hudacký is waiting for problems with the implementation of the energy and climate package due to the current economic crisis.[5] Generally, Slovakia’s MEPs viewed efforts of the presidency to solve new conflicts and problems (Georgian conflict and financial crisis) were viewed positively. A different, more critical evaluation of the French Presidency was presented in Slovak newspapers. Most of them focused on the stalemate in ratifying the Lisbon Treaty and on the dominance of President Sarkozy’s personality.
The return of nuclear power as a potential solution for sustaining economic growth and guarantying energy security is an example of shared interest and cooperation of both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Strong ties were demonstrated during the gas crises in January 2009. The Czech Presidency was not only in regular contact with the Slovak government, but also gas had been supplied to Slovakia through companies and pipelines in the Czech Republic before the Russian Federation delivered gas to Slovakia through Ukraine again. Therefore, cooperation in the energy sector remains of high salience during the Czech Presidency.

[1] Trend: “Zápisník z Bruselu: Slovensko sa cíti poškodené”, 10 July 2008.

[2] SITA: “Slovensko podporí klimaticko-energetický balík s výhradami”, 8 December 2008.

[3] Aktuá “Fico: Výsledky summitu sú pre Slovensko úspechom”, 12 December 2008.

[4] “Belohorská: Českému predsedníctvu chýba dostatok úcty voči iným”, 4 February 2009.

[5] “Anketa: Akou známkou by ste ohodnotili francúzske predsedníctvo v Rade EÚ?”, 11 December 2008.