Thank you very much. We have become one big family, I think, by now.
Just look for a minute at the context within which the Czech presidency had to operate since the 24th of February. Putin is waging his barbaric war on a peaceful neighboring country, without any provocation. This is a war about not just the fate of Ukraine, it’s a war about the fate of Europe, about our values, about what we believe in, about the way our citizens want to live in liberty, in full freedom, using their rights and making their own choices.
In this context, which is extremely complicated – with energy prices going through the roof with a lot of challenges because of so many people seeking refuge in Europe – the Czech presidency was able to guide us through and to even help us take momentous decisions, incredible decisions.
The latest decision being this enormous success at COP15 in Montreal, where Europe was again part of the deal-making side of things. A huge win for biodiversity. A really, really new beginning for humanity, to learn to live in harmony with our environment, with our planet.
And only days before that, on the actual anniversary of our commemoration of Václav Havel’s passing, the Czech presidency steered us through one of the most complicated trilogues I’ve ever experienced: on the ETS, ETS2 and Social Climate Fund. Decisions, which are going to be a cornerstone of Europe’s efforts to decarbonise and to help us get to climate neutrality in 2050.
In my experience over the last more than 30 years, almost 35 years, working with the European Union and its incarnations before it was called the European Union, starting in a Europe that was still divided, I have seldom seen a presidency that has been more successful and more focused and more professional than the Czech presidency. I want to thank you, Marian, your team and especially also your Brussels team, for that outstanding performance.
I also say this because the motto of the presidency is derived from what Václav Havel wrote: ‘Europe as a task’, or if you want, ‘a duty’ or ‘a mission’, perhaps – whatever translation of the word you want to use.
I remember him saying once: ‘I would like to see a Europe where East and West are no longer moral qualifications, no longer political qualifications, but are again geographical qualifications.’ I think this Czech presidency proved that East and West no longer are seen as moral or political qualifications, but purely as geographical qualifications.
So, exactly 10 years after his death, Václav Havel got what he wished for in terms of the political positioning of the country he represented so well. In the heart of Europe, moving Europe forward and showing full solidarity also with the Ukrainian people.
Today, we discussed some of the issues in the Council that are pertinent to bringing Europe on a more climate neutral path, on a path of environmental sustainability.
I listened very carefully to what Ministers had to say on the packages we’ve presented. There’s still a lot of work for us ahead, now heading to the Swedish presidency.
But I am absolutely convinced that if we look back over time to this presidency, we will still be amazed at everything that was achieved. Of course, before the French presidency, the Slovenian and the Portuguese presidency, set the scene very well. But you can set the scene as well as you wish, if you don’t have a top scorer, heading you in front, you will never score a goal. And this is what you did, many goals.
So again, big, big thank you to the Czech Republic for this. You have really helped Europe and Europe will be grateful.