The presidency is expected to get tougher as various crises intensify into winter. Photo Credit: Freepik

Brno, Sept 29 (CTK) – The first half of the Czech EU presidency has been successful, according to political scientist Petr Kaniok from Masaryk University, in commentary published by the Systemic Risk Institute (SYRI).

Kaniok highlighted the EU-wide agreements on energy, while noting that the pressure on the presidency will increase due to the continuing energy crisis and unpredictable behaviour of Russia.

Kaniok said that the Czech Republic started the presidency in a comfortable position, as not much was expected from the country despite the unprecedented political-security situation. He explained that the low expectations were a result of reputational damage during the rule of former PM Andrej Babis (ANO), the limited power of the Czech Republic in the EU, and the short tenure of the new government leaving insufficient time for preparations.

Therefore, the Czech presidency could only exceed expectations. In this context, the presidency has been very successful, which is unsurprising considering the experience of Czech diplomats, according to Kaniok. He added that the politicians, who are taking the presidency seriously, are also performing well in the role.

Apart from the successful agreements on energy, Kaniok also highlighted the continuing unity within the EU in its stance towards Russia, which is not guaranteed considering the duration of the conflict and its impact on the economy of member states.

Political scientists expect the pressure on the presidency to increase due to the energy crisis and Russian conduct. The autumn might also see political turmoil following the Senate and local elections, which the opposition framed as a “referendum on the government.” The campaign for the presidential election in January will also increase in intensity in the next months.

Kaniok does not see much resemblance to the first Czech presidency in 2009, when the opposition and four MPs from the government coalition toppled the government of Mirek Topolanek (ODS). He said that the position of the current government is much stronger, and an attempt by opposition parties to stage a no confidence vote was unsuccessful.

However, Kaniok added that it is unfortunate that the government is not communicating as much with the Czech citizens as the government did in 2009.

A professor in the Department of International Relations and European Politics at the Masaryk University Faculty of Social Studies, Kaniok is an expert on Czech-EU relations, and was the author of “The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU: A bridge over the past”, an evaluation of the first Czech presidency of the EU Council in 2009.

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