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Presentation of the Czech Presidency

Gunnar Hökmark (PPE-DE). – Madam President, I would like to congratulate the President-in-Office on the ability which his presidency has already demonstrated to deal with a number of issues.

Many Swedes still have the feeling that Prague is to the east of Stockholm, due to the heritage of the political geography of the last century. That is wrong, and your presidency, Mr President-in-Office, will restore the Czech Republic to its proper place in our mental maps – at the heart of Europe in history, as well as in the future.

May I also express the hope that you will pave the way well for the Swedish presidency: as regards climate issues and competitiveness, where it is so important for you to demonstrate that we will tackle the economic problems with openness, without protectionism and with the dynamics of an open economy; and regarding energy issues, where you will play a crucial role, since you are clearly very well-placed. The times we are living in underline the need for reforms and change.

I think it is fair to say that solidarity and security as regards energy means that we need to reform and deepen the European internal energy market. Without that, we will be exposed to different threats and attempts to divide us, to fragment us. One aim should be to ensure that no one can control the supply and production of gas and electricity at the same time as distribution; to ensure that we will have one common market. If that can be achieved during your presidency, it will be a strategic step forward that I hope we can all congratulate you on in six months’ time.