INTERVIEW: Environment minister Anna Hubáčková on the Czech EU presidency

Czech environment minister Anna Hubácková

As the Czech Republic takes over the rotating EU Council presidency from France, environment minister Anna Hubácková discusses her green priorities for the coming semester in my interview for ENDS Europe.

Anna Hubácková became environment minister in December last year following the electoral victory of the centre-right pro-European coalition led by Petr Fiala. The new government has sought to emphasise its green credentials, including in its programme a goal to phase out coal by 2033, which still accounted for one-third of the country’s energy supply in 2019. It sees the European Green Deal as “an opportunity to significantly modernise the Czech economy, increase the quality of life and improve our environment by investing in sustainable development, clean and renewable resources and the circular economy”.

Hubácková has long experience of environmental policy. Before entering politics – as a senator for the Christian-democratic party KDU-CSL – she was head of the regional department of the environment. Her official biography says “she has devoted her life to protecting sources of drinking water”.

But she has an uphill task ahead as the EU seeks to finalise the mammoth Fit for 55 package of energy climate policy reforms. With the French presidency brokering a common position on the files among member states, gruelling negotiations with the European Parliament now await.

“Our intention is to keep the package together because if a certain compromise is reached in one file, or one part of the package, it will have to be balanced out elsewhere,” Hubácková says, via an interpreter.

While the Fit for 55 package is a top priority for the Presidency, so too is energy security in light of the war in Ukraine. The Czech Republic is still heavily reliant on imports of fossil fuels from Russia. And the presidency’s programme states that the “EU’s energy security issues… are currently more pressing than the energy transition”…

Continue reading on ENDS Europe, a daily news service on EU environmental affairs part of the Haymarket Media Group, 30 June 2022.

Photo courtesy Czech government.