Jana Hartman Radová leads the Brussels-SPCR office since 2015 © Jana Hartman

Czech EU Council Presidency: "The EU should make a reality check of its policies"

"Because of the current crisis situation, there is no space for business-as-usual EU policy-making and legal uncertainty" demands Jana Hartman Radová. Since 2015, she has headed the Brussels office of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic (Svaz průmyslu a dopravy České republiky, SPCR), which is the most influential independent organization of employers and entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic and a respected social partner.

What do businesses expect from the Czech Council Presidency?

The Czech Republic is taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU in a situation where Europe has to deal not only with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also with the consequences of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. The expectations from businesses are therefore high. Among other things, they expect the Czech Presidency to pay priority attention to supporting Ukraine and dealing with the economic consequences of the war for the EU, as well as adapting mid and long-term EU policies to the new reality.

We are pleased to see to what extent our priorities overlap and how like-minded we are in areas such as trade and the Single Market. Businesses therefore expect the Czech Presidency to support an ambitious trade agenda and close cooperation with like-minded partners who share our values, such as the US, and also to inject much stronger ambition in addressing the Single Market barriers and accelerating its digitisation.

The Czech Republic has a unique opportunity to emphasize and moderate important topics and to show that it is a constructive member of the EU. I hope it will take full advantage of this opportunity.

What are your organisation’s three top priorities regarding the Council Presidency?

In its priorities, the Confederation emphasizes strengthening Europe´s resilience while maintaining its openness, ensuring its competitiveness and sustainable development, as well as further developing the EU´s dynamic labour market.

  • To achieve a resilient and open Europe, we emphasize the need to strengthen the open strategic autonomy of European industry, its resilience and diversification, and to promote an ambitious EU trade policy and effective multilateralism.
  • To be competitive and sustainable, we call for a gradual path towards a climate-neutral EU that takes into account its effects on industrial competitiveness, as well as for further deepening the EU internal market and strengthening the EU´s competitiveness, growth and digital transition.
  • Among other things, we also highlight the importance of an inclusive, flexible and dynamic labour market as well as increasing the predictability of the legal environment, respecting diversity, and reducing the administrative difficulty of the European labour market.

What is your organisation’s main expectation of Germany in terms of EU politics?

The EU needs to reduce dependencies and diversify its sources of supply. That is why it is important for the EU to secure new trade and investment opportunities for European companies in alternative markets and to deepen cooperation with like-minded partners who share our values, such as the US. We expect Germany to support an ambitious trade policy, acceleration of current trade negotiations with countries such as Australia or New Zealand, as well as speedy ratification of already negotiated agreements.

Germany is an important industrial powerhouse so we expect it to appreciate the importance of industry for further economic growth and to support the path towards the green transition that is economically and socially workable.

Given the crucial importance of developing the European Single Market and accelerating its digitisation, we expect that Germany will support efforts to ensure that any regulation in the digital economy does not hinder innovation and digital transition.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine leads to severe human suffering, an important security crisis and economic damage in Europe.How are Czech companies affected by the war? What do Czech businesses expect from the EU with regards to EU legislation?

The war in Ukraine has caused a growing negative impact on the economic situation of Czech companies, which face challenges linked to global supply chain disruptions, shortages of people and material, high energy and raw material prices, inflation as well as uncertainty, among other things. Despite all these challenges, the wave of solidarity and help from companies has been enormous.

Because of the current crisis situation, there is no space for business-as-usual EU policy-making and legal uncertainty. It is necessary that the EU takes the current crisis situation seriously into account and makes a reality check of its policies, including the Fit-for-55 package. The EU should focus its policies on making the European economy stronger and more competitive. In contrary, any initiatives that would impose overburdensome requirements on companies should be avoided.

The best way forward is to strengthen the European Single Market and its digitalisation, develop a proactive growth agenda that supports the competitiveness of European companies and pursue an ambitious trade policy to diversify our sources of supply and open new markets.

What is your vision for the future of the EU?

We are convinced that coordinated efforts of social partners and member states can assist the European Union and the entire international community to overcome this very difficult period together and to find a successful way of coming out of it even stronger.

Once the urgent humanitarian crisis is handled, measures of mid-term and long-term effects must follow, aiming at reassuring stability and economic prosperity of Europe. Together, as the European Union, we are much stronger than individually, and our unity must remain the ultimate goal.