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Ministr zahraničních věcí Martin Stropnický
Foto: © Markéta Trnková (MZV/MFA)
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Projev ministra Stropnického na konferenci na vysoké úrovni k Víceletému finančnímu rámci

 

Ministr Stropnický pronesl řeč na konferenci na vysoké úrovni k Víceletému finančnímu rámci 9. ledna 2018 v Bruselu.

Madam Director General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me thank you for the opportunity to address this audience on one of the most crucial topics of the day – the EU’s new priorities within the future Multiannual Financial Framework.

As you know, the Czech Republic has had a new government since December. I would like to assure you that we are taking the future of the EU finances very seriously and we are intent on contributing to the discussions.

Before I cover security and defence issues, let me start with a couple of general remarks on the MFF.

General remarks on the MFF

The MFF is a clear manifestation of the unity of the EU and of our ability to find political consensus on financing common priorities. The outcome of the upcoming discussions on the next MFF will shape our policies and our cooperation for the next seven years and beyond. The new MFF will also significantly influence how the EU will be perceived by the European citizens as well as by our international partners. This is why we need come out from the negotiations more unified and more efficient. One of the main challenges will be how to effectively balance the funding of the traditional policies and new priorities.

I see three main strains on the EU budget. First, we need to strengthen the funding of new EU priorities such as migration, internal and external security and defence. Second, we need to maintain strong funding for traditional EU policies and programmes – the Cohesion Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, Horizon 2020, Erasmus or Galileo – to continue supporting convergence and competitiveness and spur the modernisation of our economies. And third, we also need to cope with the UK leaving the EU.

As to the structure of the MFF, lessons learnt from the current one are that we urgently need to redesign the EU budget. It must be simpler, without duplications, more flexible and more effective. Also, it has to respond to unforeseeable events. Therefore, a crisis mechanism should be considered for the next MFF. It could take the form of unallocated reserve in a stand-by mode, which would be put aside within the relevant programmes.

And this leads me to the main topics of my intervention – security and defence.

Security

The EU represents the cornerstone of our security and prosperity. Our new government has clearly stressed that it is its key foreign policy priority “to make sure that the EU is a safe and secure place for its citizens”. But the EU cannot be safe and secure unless our neighbourhood is safe.

Therefore, contributing to peace, stability, human rights and decent living conditions – in one word to “resilience” – in our Southern and Eastern neighbourhood is in our common interest. We need to make sure that these priorities will be supported by sufficient funding on the EU level.

The EU security also depends on the resilience of our own societies. This is why we need to improve the EU strategic communication abroad and towards our own citizens. Sound and reliable information is a pre-condition for countering disinformation campaigns, which pose security threats and risk to destabilise our European democracies. Therefore, we need to make sure that the EU StratCom, namely StratCom East, is adequately financed for the future. We also need to sustain our support to independent media in our neighbourhood.

Migration

As to the current migration crisis: We support the increase of funding for the migration and asylum policy in the next MFF. It is also one of the pre-conditions for securing the EU’s external borders. And, it will send a strong signal of solidarity towards the countries of origin and transit of the migrants.

In our view, it is crucial to create in the next MFF a predictable and stable EU financial mechanism for funding effective and targeted migration measures. It would help to guarantee a comprehensive EU migration system and to move away from ad hoc provisional solutions.

Now, allow me a few words on the external dimension of migration: We are convinced that financing of targeted activities and measures in the countries of origin, first displacement and transit are more efficient and more cost-effective than tackling the consequences of uncontrolled illegal migration. Specifically, we should support building of capacities of the third countries and stabilization and improvement of the situation of the people in need closest to their first place of refuge. EU military missions must also help enhance the capacities of local forces combating illegal migration and smuggling networks.

The second pillar of our migration policy – its internal dimension – is equally important. Here, the next MFF should increase its funding for building of effective migration management and external border control systems that would provide a stronger support to the frontline Member States.

Defence

Now, let me move on to the future financing of defence, which I followed closely in my previous capacity as Minister of Defence.

One of the key challenges is to find a workable and robust model for funding Capacity Building in support of Security and Development (CBSD) in partner countries. This is a core element of the EU’s engagement. It is essential in preventing state destabilization and proliferation of violent conflict in our neighbourhood. It is equally vital for post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.

Such capacity-building efforts involve different sources of funding – the Athena mechanism for military operations, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and the African Peace Facility. A variety of operational tools are involved, including civilian missions and military operations under the CSDP. However, the existing legal framework does not allow the EU to use common budget resources to provide equipment and sometimes even infrastructure for military actors in partner countries.

In our view, the EU should provide CBSD with a dedicated instrument, including for military purposes. How it will be structured and whether it will be fully or partly funded from the common budget is part of our debate on squaring the circle.

Let me also share a thought on the funding of EU missions and operations. A more ambitious approach to missions and operations requires greater solidarity. That is why we support the comprehensive revision of the Athena mechanism, including the financing scheme for EU Battle Groups.

In the context of the future MFF, we need to look for more ambitious and integrated structures along the main axes of our CSDP action. One of the options is to establish an EU peace and security trust fund outside the EU budget, open for contributions by third parties, first and foremost the UK. Creating such a fund, however, should not come at the expense of funding for civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding from the MFF.

Closing remarks

Finally, let me recall what I said at the beginning. I understand the MFF as a manifestation of the unity of the EU. The MFF should reflect our ability to achieve political consensus on financing our common priorities.

The Czech Republic is ready to constructively contribute to the best conceivable outcome. I am positive that we will be able to prepare an MFF that will make our Union stronger and more efficient in facing up to all the challenges, old and new.

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