Ukrainian journalists walk in the yard of National Pedagogic university destroyed by a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 6, 2022. (EVGENIY MALOLETKA / AP)
BRUSSELS/KYIV – Managing the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will top the list of priorities of the Czech Republic, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, Czech prime minister said Wednesday.
Under the slogan "Europe as a task," the Czech presidency's five priorities are managing the refugee crisis and Ukraine's post-war recovery; energy security; strengthening Europe's defense capabilities and cyberspace security; the strategic resilience of the European economy; and the resilience of democratic institutions.
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Despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the EU wishes to be ready for the reconstruction effort, and will start mobilizing resources
Regarding the influx of refugees from Ukraine, the principles of "solidarity, efficiency and flexibility" will be applied to ensure the integration of Ukrainian citizens into the European social fabric via education, work and healthcare, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the European Parliament's plenary session in Brussels.
Despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the EU wishes to be ready for the reconstruction effort, and will start mobilizing resources.
A direct consequence of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, energy security is also high on the agenda. The EU is weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels while transitioning towards green energies and is trying to ensure sufficient energy supply for the coming winter.
"The Czech Presidency is ready to work on the implementation of the regulation of gas reserves, i.e. filling storages in the run-up to winter, and the promotion of voluntary joint purchases, so that the EU uses its weight in a way similar to the purchase of vaccines," the Czech presidency said on its website.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week that EU's gas storages were only 55 percent full, which is exceptional for July. She also announced an emergency plan in case Russia cuts off gas deliveries. This coordinated approach at the EU level will be presented in two weeks' time.
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The "Fit for 55" package, which will ensure to transition to green energies, will also be high on the Czech presidency's agenda.
Ukraine to harvest 60m tonnes of grain
Ukraine's grain harvest is projected to reach 60 million tons this year, the Agrarian Policy and Food Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Ukraine would have to export between 30 million tons and 40 million tons of grain from this year's harvest to free its storage facilities, Deputy Agriculture Minister Markiyan Dmytrasevych said while addressing the Ukrainian-Swiss Business Hub in Lugano, Switzerland.
An employee of the Romanian grain handling operator Comvex oversees the unloading of Ukrainian cereals from a barge in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, June 21, 2022. (VADIM GHIRDA / AP)
By the end of October, Ukraine will lack capacities for storing 10-15 million tonnes of grain due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict that damaged storage infrastructure and blocked exports through the Black Sea, he said.
The country still has 18 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds from last year's harvest in store waiting for export, said the local authorities.
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