Czech EU Presidency to work under the motto "Europe without Barriers"

On 1st January the France handed over the leading role of the EU to the Czech Republic which priorities for the next 6 months will be based on the motto “Europe without Barriers” to reflect the four basic freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, workers, and services. This priority was welcomed by many EU countries.  In addition and in the framework of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, the Czech Presidency added a fifth symbolic freedom of free movement of information and knowledge. The main priorities of the Czech Presidency can be summed up as the 3 "E"sEconomy, Energy and External Relations. 

The programme of the Czech presidency mainly addresses disability in the area of employment, services as a tool for preventing social exclusion and for active inclusion of the most vulnerable persons, cross-border health care and rare diseases.   

On 23 January, during the informal meeting of EU Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs, the Czech Presidency pointed out that the current financial and economic crisis highlighted the need for greater workforce mobility, including rapid re-inclusion of unemployed and inactive persons into the labour market.  

In his speech, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Petr Nečas, highlighted the priorities of the Presidency to concentrate on increasing the employment rate and labour market flexibility using the general principles of flexicurity. He also added the wish of the Presidency to achieve horizontal support for families and to focus on social services as a tool for active social integration and employment opportunities. He also mentioned the new anti-discrimination directive and his concern that he did not expect to reach a political agreement during the Czech Presidency due to the need to conduct lengthy debates within the Council mainly on legal and interpretation issues. 

Among the events planned during the Czech Presidency, two events will address disability among other issues disability from the perspective of employment, social services and telecommunications : 

  • 17 February 2009 – Ministerial Conference on e-Communications
  • 25-26 March 2009 – Conference on the implementation of common principles of flexicurity during the economic crisis
  • 22-23 April 2009 – Conference on “Social Services – A Tool for Mobilising the Workforce and Strengthening Social Cohesion”. 

It is also expected that the formal Employment and Social Affairs Council in June addresses the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities based on the report of the High Level Group on Disability. 

EDF priorities during this Czech Presidency semester are:  

  • first of all to start discussions for a new strengthened disability strategy at EU level following the European Commission disability action plan initiated in 2003 during the European Year of Persons with Disabilities.  
  • secondly, to ensure a swift ratification by the EU Member States and the European Communities of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities which will be addressed during the Employment and Social Affairs Council to take place on 8 and 9 June. 
  • EDF will also follow up its work undertaken under the French Presidency and continue to advance disability issues and the incorporation of disability specificities in the proposed anti-discrimination European legislation. 
  • On transport and passenger rights, EDF will follow-up on the legislative proposals made in December 2008 in the field of maritime and buses and coaches passenger rights. 
  • With regard to telecommunications and the planned Ministerial Conference on 17 February, EDF will work towards the adoption of the “Telecom package” including the proposed EDF amendments.


Further information on the Presidency priorities and events are available on the Czech Presidency website.