Energy security, EU emissions norm on agenda at Czech-Slovak cabinet session

Petr Fiala and Eduard Heger

The Czech and Slovak cabinets held a joint session for the first time in three years on Monday. Ministers discussed a range of issues, including energy and security in Slovakia – and rejected planned new EU regulations they say would hit their respective auto industries.

Ministers from Czechia and Slovakia came together for a joint session in the Slovak city of Trenčín, near their common border, on Monday afternoon.

Petr Fiala and Eduard Heger | Photo: Office of Czech Government

It was the first such meeting since 2020 and the eighth in the last 11 years.

The motto of Monday’s roundtable was “Thirty years and still together”, referring to the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia that gave rise to the two states.

Both prime ministers, Czechia’s Petr Fiala and his host Eduard Heger, agreed relations were superlative – but there were challenging issues on the agenda.

Among them was energy security, the first thing Mr. Fiala referred to at a joint news conference.

Eduard Heger and Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“I think our countries have faced very similar problems. We have managed to gradually extricate ourselves from energy dependency on Russia and to manage this year’s winter. But we also need to consider what awaits us in the future. The aim of both our countries is to find joint projects that will allow us to secure and boost energy security and to ensure reliable long-term energy supplies.”

Slovakia’s PM, Eduard Heger, told reporters both states were opposed to the current form of Euro 7, a planned EU emissions regulation that critics say will increase car prices – a fact that could impact the automotive industries that drive both states.

Photo: Office of Czech Government

“That norm is very ambitious and – in many areas, such as in the time limits that it sets – unachievable. I’m glad that we have a similar position in this area and are speaking with one voice at EU level. The aim is to protect our producers and to protect, in discussions with the European Commission, investments in innovation and human capital.”

Mr. Fiala later tweeted a bald statement that the two countries rejected the planned emissions rules.

Meanwhile the Czech leader talked up regional cooperation, referring to both the Slavkov/Austerlitz format, which also includes Austria, and the Visegrad Four, whose member Hungary is frequently at loggerheads with the EU.

Mr. Fiala said the latter, whose presidency Czechia will take over from Slovakia in July, was not what it used to be but still had its uses.

Photo: Office of Czech Government

“Maybe focusing on individual projects is the way forward when it comes to fully utilizing the V4 format. I guess we won’t be able to do what was important in the V4 in the past, which was coordinating on European and foreign policy. But that doesn’t mean that the format has had its day. On the contrary, we want to develop it further, within reasonable limits.”

As well as the two premiers, Monday’s joint session in Trenčín was attended by five ministers from each state, along with deputy ministers responsible for industry, trade and the economy.