The Czech minister of foreign affairs has come out in favour of firmer EU action against Turkey over its offensive into Northern Syria and attacks on Kurds. Tomáš Petříček says Russia and the Damascus government are benefiting most from the current situation – and says further talks on Turkey joining the EU are at present impossible.
The designated Czech vice-president of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, has been approved for the European values and transparency portfolio in the new European Commission. In a three-hour hearing on Monday, Ms. Jourová was grilled by members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees on how she would secure rule of law and media freedom across the EU.
The Czech Republic’s Věra Jourová, responsible for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality in the outgoing European Commission, is likely to return to Brussels in a new role and with a higher status. If her candidacy is approved by MEPs in the coming weeks, Jourová will become this country’s first Vice President as of November, and likely split the “rule-of-law” portfolio with the next EU Commissioner for Justice.
Czechs are racing to file applications for building permits, with official figures showing that the number of applications in the first half of 2019 was the highest in 10 years. The main reason appears to be an EU directive that will make building more expensive from 2020, when stricter environmental rules come in. However, representatives of both business and government say that modern technologies will help save money in the long term.
Britain’s departure from the EU was the focus of talks in Prague on Tuesday between the Czech foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček, and his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney. The latter said measures proposed by the London government do not come close to replacing the Irish border backstop – and that there may be no solution to the divisive issue.
Věra Jourová, who currently handles justice, consumers and gender, is preparing to become the first Czech to serve two consecutive stints on the European Commission. Prime Minister Babiš is hoping that Mrs. Jourová can secure an economic portfolio, possibly with a view to securing political points at home.
After weeks of speculation regarding the Czech Republic’s nominee for European commissioner, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš arrived for talks with European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen with a single name in his briefcase: Věra Jourová, the current commissioner for justice, consumer protection and gender equality. The prime minister is hoping that her experience could help the country acquire a more ambitious portfolio.
The election of Ursula von der Leyen as the new president of the European Commission has elicited both enthusiastic and sceptical reactions from Czech MEP, who were divided in the vote according to party lines. Those in favour of her election highlight her understanding of Central and Eastern Europe, those against point to her weak mandate.
The European Parliament elected its leadership on Wednesday and two Czech MEPs – Dita Charanzová from the Liberals group and Marcel Kolaja from the Greens –were elected vice-president. I asked Libor Rouček, himself a former vice-president of the European Parliament, whether he considers this a significant success for a country the size of the Czech Republic.