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Annual Report of the Czech V4 Presidency 2015–2016


The Czech Presidency’s ambition was to focus on clear and achievable priorities. Instead of developing new V4+ formats and broadening the agenda even further, the Czech Republic resolved to concentrate on areas where cooperation was already under way.


However, at the beginning of its term the Czech Presidency found itself facing a turbulent international climate, with steeply rising Europe-bound migration from the Middle East and North Africa as one of the most pressing issues. Inevitably, the refugee crisis came to dominate the Presidency agenda, leaving the other areas of V4 cooperation more or less in the shadow, although the Presidency Programme provided considerable flexibility (and capacities) for unforeseen circumstances. At any rate, despite the difficult international context, the Czech Presidency provided the standard coordination for V4 positions prior to the meetings of the European Council and Council of the European Union (FAC, GAC, etc.), contributing to the strong and visible role of the V4 in EU agendas.

Migration
was the central issue at all three V4 Prime Ministers summits (extraordinary summit on migration on 4 September 2015, summit to mark the 25th anniversary of the V4 on 15 February 2016, closing summit in Prague on 8 June 2016). It was the sole reason for two V4+ Luxembourg Foreign Ministers meetings (11 and 21 September 2015), and it remained on the agenda for all other V4 Foreign Ministers meetings. The final documents adopted at these high-level meetings testify to a comparatively broad consensus across the V4. The focus was on preserving the voluntary nature of the Union’s solidarity measures (and rejecting an obligatory distribution mechanism), and on protecting the external border of the Union. In the latter area, the V4 contribution (material and non-material) to EU measures was substantial even in the Union’s terms, and the V4 further supported it by bilateral assistance. Migration was also a central issue at extraordinary meetings of V4 Defence Ministers (17 December 2015) and Interior Ministers (19 January 2016).

Unquestionably, the existence of widely shared interests related to the refugee agenda contributed to the perception of the V4 as a cohesive whole, both internally and in the eyes of outside partners. V4 representatives were able to find a consensual and constructive common language and to get support for their positions from non-V4 countries. The robust V4 stance highlighted the relevance of the “V4 brand” and raised its perception on the European scene, admittedly at some cost to the reputation of the V4 whose positions came under criticism for “lacking solidarity” and for being “defensive”. This report does not seek to counter the criticism; however, it is only fair to mention both processes as they can be seen as two sides to one coin.

Accordingly, it can be said that the cohesion of the V4—the Czech Presidency’s top priority—remains positive even after this turbulent year. This was underlined by the events organized by the Czech Presidency to mark the 25th anniversary of the V4: the Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers meetings in Prague, the conferences initiated and co-organized by the Presidency (the Prague European Summit held in November 2015 and June 2016 was the most important event with the best prospects), and the establishment of the Panel of Eminent Personalities that can (and should) be the next Presidency’s strategic advisory body. The Panel’s report published on the occasion of the V4 anniversary in February 2016 presents a vision for future development of V4 cooperation and sets out the related recommendations.

The Czech Republic is a long-standing advocate of the International Visegrad Fund (IVF) as an important actor in maintaining and strengthening the V4’s internal as well as external ties. The main aim of the Presidency Programme in this area was to help the IVF find additional donors. To this end, the Czech Republic organized a donor conference bringing together present and potential donors (Prague, 25 May 2016) as one of the steps towards maximizing the present IVF donor engagement and generating more interest among non-V4 partners—an effort in which the IVF Secretariat naturally plays the key role, together with each successive V4 Presidency.

The Czech Presidency stated that it would deepen rather than broaden partnerships in the V4+ format. This aim was successfully fulfilled. Top-level meetings were held across ministries with traditional and long-standing partners: the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, V4’s neighbours – southern (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria) and northern (Baltic and Scandinavian countries), main European partners (Germany and Benelux), and with representatives of the European Commission. An important milestone was the first-ever summit of V4 Prime Ministers with the President of the Republic of Korea. Building on an earlier ministerial meeting, the summit gave a new impetus to the deepening of relations with this major East Asian partner. A meeting with Japan, another Asian country of key importance to the V4, was held at the Foreign Ministers level. At the working level, V4 Political Directors held consultations with 17 countries.

Cooperation with the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership, two regions of special interest to the V4, underwent some visible changes as the general attention shifted towards the migration issue. The Czech Presidency confirmed the importance of cooperation with the two regions. The regular conference of V4 and Western Balkans Foreign Ministers (Prague, November 2015) discussed EU enlargement and regional cooperation as well as the migration crisis and the Western Balkans migration route. Its most important result was the formal establishment of the Western Balkans Fund, symbolically ending the first phase of a project initiated under the previous Czech Presidency (2011–2012). The next phases of the project are fully in the hands of the participating Western Balkans countries whose efforts will have the support of the V4. As a follow up to the joint V4 statement of 13 November 2015, the Czech Presidency presented specific proposals for ways to deepen the V4–Western Balkans cooperation. The Czech Presidency initiated and convened an inaugural meeting of the V4–WB6 Working Group at the Political Directors level, created to develop political dialogue and to provide a platform for further deepening of cooperation between the two regional groups. A visible result of the efforts to broaden cooperation with the Western Balkans was the Czech Presidency’s participation in a regular WB6 Foreign Ministers meeting in Durrës in March 2016, which set the precedent for future V4 presidencies. In the EU, the V4 are among the main advocates of the Eastern Partnership project which represents a viable and important vector of European neighbourhood even a time when the Union’s attention is turned to the South.

The migration issue brought changes also to V4 defence cooperation which took on a new dimension as the V4 offered to assist Hungary and Slovenia in protecting the external border of the Schengen Area, including the deployment of police personnel (in accordance with EU regulations). The process of preparing the Visegrad EU Battlegroup (V4 EU BG), including its certification, to be on stand-by in the first half of 2016 was brought to a conclusion during the Czech Presidency’s term. The Czech Presidency achieved considerable progress in the debate on the building a permanent V4 modular force: in the next five years, this will take the form of a regularly renewed commitment of the V4 to contribute to EU and NATO rapid reaction forces. In the areas of V4 capability development, defence planning harmonisation, and pooling and sharing of assets, the main achievement was the finalisation of feasibility studies and approval of a timetable for capability development in five priority areas. Cooperation in V4+ formats was deepened especially with the NORDEFCO countries and the United States, including the selection of three most promising projects to be implemented under the Polish Presidency. In the area of joint procurement, the V4 established close cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA) and will work together with the EDA on a joint project concerning the Security of Supply.

The Czech Presidency achieved progress in debates on the integration of V4 gas markets and finalized the joint V4 risk assessment. This document, developed during the Slovak Presidency, identifies regional bottlenecks to underline the need to complete the building of the necessary infrastructure in the region. Successful cooperation was established on the EU 2030 climate and energy framework and new governance system. A V4 joint non-paper on energy security stressed the importance of maintaining a gas transit route to the EU via Ukraine. However, on some issues the V4 were unable to find a common position, which only confirms the trend towards fragmentation of V4 energy cooperation.

The Czech Presidency achieved progress in deepening V4 cooperation on the digital agenda, startups and infrastructure. A Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Cooperation in the Areas of Innovation and Startups was signed in Prague in the presence of the European Commissioner Andrus Ansip. The Czech Presidency staged presentations of V4 startups in San Francisco (Silicon Valley), London and Brussels (in cooperation with Seznam.cz web portal). It organized digital agenda conferences and workshops, including a meeting on net neutrality and Digital Single Market in Washington (November/December 2015). Building namely on the results of the preceding Slovak Presidency, the Czech Presidency confirmed that joint coordinated presentation of V4 startups and innovations is one of the most promising forms of cooperation, combining future-oriented research and development with business-oriented economic perspective. V4 Transport Ministers prepared a common position addressed to the European Commissioner Violeta Bulc, pointing to the inconsistencies between the Second CEF Energy Call and the N+3 rule. On the basis of the common position, the Commission promised to amend the requirements for the Third CEF Energy Call.

Under the thematic priority of jointly combating tax evasion and fraud in the area of excise taxes and the VAT, the main event was an international conference on the reverse charge mechanism as a way to combat tax evasion. The conference was organized by the Finance Ministry and discussed specific uses of the reverse charge mechanism. The issue has wider implications beyond the framework of V4 cooperation, and will remain a relevant topic on the V4 agenda in the financial and fiscal area.

The Czech Presidency’s motto highlights the commitment to building mutual trust. The dynamic international developments that so strongly affected the Czech Presidency did not have a disintegrative effect on V4 cooperation and the group definitely did not fall apart. Far from that—when faced with the greatest political challenges of the present day, the V4 stood more united than ever before. Under the Czech Presidency, the group again showed that on issues of European importance it is a united and powerful actor looking beyond immediate personal gains.

Implementation of the Program of the Czech Presidency in the Visegrad Group

(by area of cooperation)


On the whole, it can be said that all events took place as planned in the Presidency Programme. The prevailing majority of thematic priorities were achieved. In exceptional cases, some thematic priorities had to be set aside for objective reasons (for example, the review of the Cohesion Policy envelopes for 2017–2020 did not take place due to the absence of a Commission proposal). Some ministries (foreign affairs, interior, defence) flexibly added the migration issue to their lists of priorities, and adjusted the formats of their meetings accordingly.
 
The table below shows the most important events organized during the Czech V4 Presidency, except for working group meetings and the traditional coordination meetings prior to EU sessions.

Ministry

Event

Date and venue (Prague, unless stated otherwise)

Results and further details

GOVERNMENT OFFICE

Extraordinary summit on migration

4 September 2015

Joint V4 Prime Ministers statement on migration

V4 + Republic of Korea summit

3 December 2015

Joint statement on further development of cooperation

V4 + Bulgaria and Macedonia summit

15 February 2016

Prague Declaration (joint declaration on the 25th anniversary of the Visegrad Group), joint V4 Prime Ministers statement of on migration

V4 closing summit

8 June 2016

 

State Secretaries for the EU meeting

1 June 2016

 

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Conference on “Geopolitics, energy and Central Europe: what next?”

14 July 2015, Brussels

Opening event of the Czech Presidency organized by the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU and the Czech Government Office in cooperation with Czech MPEs

V4 + Luxembourg and Germany Foreign Ministers extraordinary meeting on migration

11 September 2015

Joint V4 Foreign Ministers communiqué on the migration crisis

V4 + Canada Political Directors consultations

17 September 2015

 

V4 + Luxembourg and Latvia Foreign Ministers extraordinary meeting on migration

21 September 2015

 

V4 + Brazil Political Directors consultations

5 October 2015,

Brazil

 

V4 + Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia Political Directors consultations

2 - 6 November 2015, Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan

 

V4 + Japan Foreign Ministers meeting

5 November 2015

On the sidelines of an ASEM meeting

V4 + Japan Foreign Ministers statement

V4 + Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers meeting

5 November 2015

On the sidelines of an ASEM meeting

V4 + Benelux political planning departments meeting

12 November 2015

Consultations on trends and future perspectives—migration, EGS, ENP

V4 + Western Balkans Foreign Ministers meeting

12–13 November 2015

Foreign Ministers statement on the Western Balkans and migration; joint article of V4 Foreign Ministers published in all Western Balkans countries

V4 + Benelux Political Directors consultations

16 November 2015, Brussels

 

V4 + France political planning departments meeting

21 April 2016

Consultations on trends and future perspectives of the European integration process, Brexit, EGS, migration, energy

V4 + UK political planning departments meeting

27–28 January 2016

Consultations on trends and future perspectives concerning Brexit, EGS, Russia

V4 + Belarus Political Directors consultations

9 February 2016, Minsk

 

Meeting of V4 Foreign Ministers on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Visegrad Group

18 February 2016

Joint declaration on the 25th anniversary of the Visegrad Group

Report by the Panel of Eminent Personalities

Visit by V4 Directors of Middle East and North Africa departments and MaMa representatives to Israel and Palestinian Territories

1–3 March 2016

Political consultations with partners on both sides, MEPP matters, study of the current situation on the ground

V4 Deputy Ministers meeting

6 April 2016

Memorandum on Cooperation within the EU–Africa Trust Fund; the V4 also agreed on coordination of humanitarian assistance in Jordan and Syria (V4 small-scale local project)

Consultations of V4 Political Directors with Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs

12 April 2016

Agreement to continue annual consultations in the V4 + Egypt format (the consultation level is yet to be agreed)

V4 + France political planning departments meeting

21 April 2016

Consultations on trends and future perspectives of the European integration process, Brexit, EGS, migration, energy

 

V4 + Russia Political Directors consultations

22 April 2016, Moscow

 

V4+ NB8 Foreign Ministers meeting

22–23 April 2016, Jūrmala

 

V4 + Turkey Political Directors consultations

25 April 2016

 

V4 + EaP Foreign Ministers meeting

4 May 2016

Joint V4 statement on the Eastern Partnership

V4 + USA Political Directors consultations

9–11 May 2016,

Washington

 

V4 + Germany political planning departments meeting

19 May 2016

Consultations on trends and future perspectives of the European integration process, Brexit, EGS, migration, energy

V4 + Georgia Political Directors consultations

6 June 2016

 

V4 + Japan Political Directors consultations

7 June 2016

 

V4+ Benelux Foreign Ministers meeting

13 June 2016

 

V4 + Republic of Korea Political Directors consultations

14–15 June 2016

Seoul

 

Consultation of V4 Directors of Middle East and North Africa departments with their Israeli counterpart

23 June 2016

 

V4 + Israel Political Directors consultations

23 June 2016

(morning)

 

V4 + WB6 Political Directors consultations

23 June 2016

(afternoon)

 

 

V4+ France and Germany Foreign Ministers meeting

27 June 2016

 

MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

V4 + Estonia and Slovenia expert meeting on space activities

23 October 2015

The parties agreed on future cooperation/information exchange, coordination meetings prior to meetings of ESA bodies (e.g. IRC ESA)

High-level session of V4 Transport Working Group to discuss TEN-T and CEF matters

19 November 2015

Joint letter of V4 Transport Ministers to Commissioner Bulc

V4 Transport Ministers meeting on the “dieselgate”

11 January 2016

Discussion on next steps concerning Volkswagen diesel cars

V4+ Slovenia and Austria Transport Ministers meeting with European Commission representatives

12–13 May 2016

The meeting discussed the question of continuous education of road users (including the role of driving schools and preparatory centres), opportunities open to driving licence applicants who fail the driving test, and ways to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities. The programme included a presentation of a system for road safety organisation, management and funding. The V4 + Slovenia adopted a Prague Declaration to reaffirm their commitment to reducing the number of road accident victims and to working together on road safety measures.

MINISTRY OF FINANCE

Conference on “Expansion of the reverse charge system to combat tax evasion”

4 December 2015

The main aim was to highlight the problem of tax fraud and evasion and encourage the Commission to pay adequate attention to the issue. The proceeds of the conference are available.

V4 + Austria and Slovenia meeting of Directors General of Customs Administrations

16–18 September 2015, Trenčín

The partners agreed to establish a working group on raw tobacco, and discussed ways to expand V4 cooperation in the area of joint mobile patrolling.

V4 + Austria meeting of representatives of financial intelligence units

18–20 November 2015, Telč

The main topic was the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money Money Laundering (AML) Directive in national legislations, and cooperation among financial analytical units and tax administrations.

V4 meetings on financial services

November 2015, May 2016

Exchange of views and experience in the field of financial services with colleagues from Slovak, Polish and Hungarian Finance Ministries

V4 meeting on mineral oil fraud

16 March 2016, Rome

The meeting led to expansion of cooperation with several additional countries (UK, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia).

Heads of CLO meeting on direct and indirect taxes

1–3 June 2016, Telč

V6 meeting to exchange information on the VAT and direct taxes, Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS), joint inspection measures, and to discuss the relevant procedures

V6 (V4 + Austria and Slovenia) meeting of representatives of financial intelligence units

1–2 June 2016, Vienna

The aim of this annual meeting was to deepen cooperation and to discuss responses to the current trends in money laundering and terrorist financing.

MINISTRY OF CULTURE

 

Workshop on “Audiovisual data: from acquisition to metadata”

7–9 April 2016

Current issues related to the use of EU Structural Funds: preservation of analog material, digitisation, documentation of collections, metadata, etc.

International colloquium of V4 libraries on “V4 libraries in the decoy of digital age“

31 May–1 June 2016, Brno

Current issues and problems of digitization mainly in V4 countries; examples of good practice from other countries (Finland)

PACE.V4 travelling conference on transport and infrastructure in performing arts in V4 countries

4–15 June 2016

PACE.V4 (= Performing Arts Central Europe—Visegrad Countries Focus) is a long-term cooperation project for organizations involved in documentation, research and promotion of performing arts in V4 countries.

V4 Culture Ministers meeting

9–10 June 2016, Pilsen

Joint Culture Ministers statement/communiqué and approval of a nomination for the 2015 International Visegrad Award

MINISTRY FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Marketing meeting of tourism boards

5–6 October 2015, Ostrava

Marketing meeting of V4 national tourism boards

Conference “Evaluation 2014-2020 – challenges and opportunities“

21 October 2015

Speakers included Jos Vaessen (UNESCO), Benedict Wauters (ESF Agency Flanders and the University of Antwerp, Belgium), Commission representatives presenting the ESF, ERDF and CF evaluations, and representatives of V4 ministries.

Workshops on various topics

During the Presidency term, Prague, Lednice

Topics: “Publicity for ESI Funds”, “Public contracts and ESI Funds”, “Eligibility criteria and risk identification“, “Financial support in V4 countries with special regard to elderly people”, “Closing the programmes for the 2007–2013 period“, “E-procurement”, “Regional dimension and integrated tools for regional development”

Seminar on “Using financial tools in the Cohesion Policy“

25 November 2015

Experience with financial tools gained during the 2007–2013 programme period, current state of development of financial tools for the 2014–2020 programme period

Deputy Ministers meeting on cross-border cooperation, presentation of projects

1–2 December 2015

Identification of problematic procedures and theories, proposals for practical solutions

Tourism boards marketing and financial meeting

10–11 December 2015, Pilsen

Marketing talks between V4 national tourism boards.

DG meeting prior to informal V4 + 4 Regional Development Ministers meeting

14 January 2016

Preparation for an informal meeting of ministers responsible for the Cohesion Policy; drafting of a joint V4+4 statement

Informal V4 + 4 Regional Development Ministers meeting on strategic planning and the Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

26 January 2016

Signing of a joint statement on the future of the Cohesion Policy

Conference on “Strategic planning and the Cohesion Policy beyond 2020”

26–27 January 2016

Conference following the ministerial meeting

High-level meeting of Deputy Regional Development Ministers and tourism boards

16–17 February 2016

A Protocol on cooperation in tourism in 2016 signed by V4 deputy ministers responsible for tourism

Conference on “Destination branding“

17 February 2016

Organized by the CzechTourism agency in cooperation with the Czech Regional Development Ministry and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The aim was to present various approaches in measuring and creating destination brands, with special focus on China as an important source market.

Academic forum on the future of housing estates

16 March 2016

Side event at the European Habitat regional meeting

Meeting of ministerial representatives on “Housing options for older people – the 21st century challenge”

17 March 2016

Side event at the European Habitat regional meeting

Round table and conference on “Smart Cities: the pathway to sustainable development of cities”

7–8 April 2016, Ostrava

The aim was to introduce the Smart Cities concept within the V4 context. V4 partners established and deepened their contacts and agreed to intensify their cooperation and support of Smart Cities projects (including exchange of information and organization of joint events).

Steering Group meeting on common V4 + 2 regional development strategy

28 April 2016

The V4+2 (Romania and Bulgaria) agreed to continue the coordination of their regional development strategies. Consideration should be given to the need to revise the Common V4 + 2 Spatial Development Strategy in 2017.

Conference on the “First step towards implementing a new period”

28–29 April 2016

Setting up the implementation structure—comparing approaches in individual countries; using experience from previous programme periods. Current state of the implementation – comparing conditions in individual countries.

Informal meeting of ministers responsible for the Cohesion Policy

23–24 June 2016, Ostrava

 

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Defence Policy Directors meeting with air force commanders

18–19 September 2015, Ostrava

Distribution of two food-for-thought documents on the options for implementation of a multinational training aircraft programme, and opportunities for cross-border cooperation in airspace protection

V4 Senior Group meeting

10–11 December 2015, Prague

First ever meeting with representatives of the NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation)

Extraordinary V4 Defence Ministers meeting on migration

17 December 2015,

Prague

 

V4 Senior Group meeting

10–11 May 2016,

Štiřín

Approval of the plans for V4 + US cooperation in three priority areas

V4 Defence Ministers meeting

24–25 May 2016,

Liblice

Political consultation on modalities for deployment of the V4 EU BG

Meeting of V4 Chiefs of General Staff

8–9 June 2016,

Valeč

V4 timetable for rotational training in the Baltic region

Joint exercises

 

Capable Logistician, Tobruq Legacy, Slovak Shield—non-V4 countries (especially the United States) took part in some of these exercises

MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY AND TRADE

Workshop on the Energy Charter

9 September 2015, Czech Permanent Mission to the EU, Brussels

 

Meeting of ministers responsible for the energy sector prior to the International Energy Club (IEC) conference

16–17 September 2015,

Ostrava

The results included a joint V4 statement on energy security in Ukraine.

We4Startups, TechCrunch –presentation of V4 startups

24 September 2015, San Francisco

Joint presentation of V4 startups to Silicon Valley investors following TechCrunch Disrupt SF (21–23 September). Three companies from each V4 country presented their innovative products.

Central European ICT StartUp 2015: Connecting Capital with Innovation

14 October 2015, London

Presentation of 19 innovative V4 startups staged by the CzechInvest agency to connect Czech technology companies with London investors and to showcase the wealth of talent in V4 markets. The presentation was attended by 90 investors.

Signing of a V4 Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Cooperation in the Areas of Innovation and Startups

 

12 October 2015

Work on the MoU began under the preceding Slovak V4 Presidency. The document was signed by competent V4 ministers and deputy ministers in the presence of Commissioner Ansip. The event included a roundtable discussion on innovations and startups.

V4 Digital Day

9 November 2015, Brussels

A conference organized by the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU and by Seznam.cz web portal (in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade). The conference had two aims: to present V4 digital innovation companies and bring them together with representatives of national governments and the Commission, and to present V4 digital technology startups and larger companies (1+1 from each V4 country).

 

Internet regulation – net neutrality, open internet rules

 

30 November - 2 December 2015, Washington

 

Net neutrality and current issues related to the Digital Single Market (e.g. Safe Harbour, online consumer protection)

V4 round table on the challenges of the Digital Single Market

10 March 2016,

Olomouc

New and anticipated EU legislation concerning the DSM (revision of the EU telecommunication framework, net neutrality, data economy, better data use); ways to remove barriers to efficient functioning of the DSM (online platforms, geo-blocking): ban on geo-blocking (Article 20 of the EU Services Directive), review of the EU copyright rules, and reliable delivery services; and ways to create business-friendly environment for nascent SMEs

V4 conference and workshops on the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): What is in it for companies?”

6 June 2016

 

V4+ Sweden, Germany and the United States conference on the benefits of the TTIP for SMEs. Speakers included the Commission’s and US lead negotiators on the SME chapter of the TTIP. The panel discussions concerned issues such as customs facilitation, regulatory issues, services, government procurement, trade facilitation, and gains for SMEs through value chains. The programme included presentations of existing support available to SMEs in trans-Atlantic trade; there were also opportunities for consultations.

 

Meeting of Presidents of V4 Chambers of Commerce

6 June 2016

Side event at the conference on the “European job market through the eyes of employers” organized by the Czech Chamber of Commerce. The Presidents issued a joint statement.

V4 Innovation Task Force

8 June 2016

Review of the implementation of the MoU signed in Prague on 12 October 2015, and preparation for next steps. In addition to members of the Task Force, the organizers invited Commercial Counsellors from V4 embassies in Prague.

MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS

Tripartite session

15–16 February 2016, Štiřín

Current issues concerning intra-EU labour mobility, energy sector, building of transport infrastructures. First ever V4 event in this format. No joint statement adopted.

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

Seminar on “Domestic violence and rights of victims in criminal proceedings”

2–3 November 2015, Kroměříž

Participants: judges and public prosecutors from V4 countries; topic: cross border cooperation and related practical issues

Meetings of directors of V4 Judicial Academies

2 November 2015, Kroměříž

Plans for further strengthening of cooperation in the training of judges and for V4 participation in EU educational projects: “Interregional and practice-oriented judicial training in EU civil law and “Training Legal Languages for Effective Functioning of Judicial Cooperation in the EU”

International conference on restorative justice

23–25 September 2015

Participants: V4 + member countries of the CEP (Confederation of European Probation); topic: development of restorative approaches in practice and cooperation between national Probation Services

Roundtable meeting of Prison Service directors from Central European countries

6–8 October 2015

Participants: V4 + Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Romania

Seminar on international family law

15 – 16 February 2016

Participants: V4 + Slovenia and Croatia, topic: planned revision of the Brussels IIa Regulation, practical experience of Central European judicial authorities with cross-border family disputes (divorces, custody rights, practice in child abduction cases, etc.)

Meeting of international relations departments of Justice Ministries - international cooperation in criminal matters

9 – 10 May 2016

Participants: V4 + Slovenia and Croatia; topics: implementation of the European Investigation Warrant, ECRIS Directive on third country nationals, cooperation with third countries including cooperation with Crimea and Sevastopol

Justice Ministers conference

26–27 May 2016, Štiřín

Participants: V4 + Slovenia and Croatia + Commissioner Jourová; topics: age of criminal responsibility, court administration, EU Justice Scoreboard and its findings on national judicial systems, current issues on the agenda of the Council of the EU.

Two language seminars

27 June–1 July 2016, Kroměříž

Courses of English and German terminology for participants from V4 countries + Slovenia and Croatia

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, YOUTH AND SPORTS

V4 + Eastern Partnership working seminar

5–7 October 2015

The result is a “Framework Action Plan of Cooperation between the Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership Countries in the Youth Field 2015–2017”

Meeting of the Olympic Hopes International Steering Committee

3–4 December 2015

 

Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea, the International Visegrad Fund, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, the National Research, Development and Innovation Office of Hungary, the National Centre for Research and Development of the Republic of Poland, and the Slovak Academy of Sciences

2 December 2015

The MoU was signed in advance of the V4–Republic of Korea summit. After signing the MoU, the participants began to prepare the first call for proposals for joint R&D projects. The projects should commence in 2018.

 

MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR

V4+ Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia Interior Ministers meeting

19 January 2016

Joint declaration

Launch of a pilot project for operational cooperation with Macedonia in border protection

Conference on “Current problems in public administration”

10–11 December 2015

V4 delegations headed by Deputy Ministers or State Secretaries

Meeting of the V4 + Austria Working Group on Combating Extremism

23–24 November 2015

A regular expert meeting to exchange experience—this time focused on foreign fighters, left-wing extremism and terrorism

 

Meeting of directors of V4 fire and rescue services

17–18 May 2016

Risk assessment, threat analysis, and capacity assessment for emergency response

Meeting of directors of V4 immigration police services

13–14 June 2016

 

 

Conference on “Internet in governance and self-governance”

4–5 April 2016, Hradec

Králové

The main topic of this year’s conference was the regular review of the progress in developing e-Government in V4 countries, and information of key projects launched or completed in the past year.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

Expert meeting/conference

2–3 November 2015

V4 + Croatia

Presentation of WHO publication on the Czech Health System in Transition (HIT)

V4 + Austria Health Ministers meeting

7–8 April 2016, Ostrava

The main topics were the development of the National Health Care Information System, data-based control of reimbursement mechanisms (DRG), Health Technology Assessment (HTA), and re-exports of medicinal products.

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE

V4 + 4 (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Austria) Agriculture Ministers meeting

26 August 2015, České Budějovice

Fraud in the food chain, situation in the milk sector, best practices in land management (one of the results was a proposal to organize a seminar on these topics)

V4 + 4 (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Austria) Agriculture Ministers meeting

29 April 2016

Current situation in commodity markets, namely in the milk, pork and sugar sectors; dual food quality; possibility to reduce the negative impacts on fisheries production caused by cormorants. V4+4 Agriculture Ministers adopted a joint statement concerning the situation in commodity markets—the statement was presented to the Agriculture Council meeting in May and to the College of Commissioners, including the President of the Commission. The results of the debate concerning dual food quality were presented to the Member States and to Commissioners Jourová and Andriukaitis—the Czech Republic expects that debate on this issue within the EU will continue under the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU.

V4 + 4 export seminar on “Soil protection in times of climate change”

25 February 2016

The seminar enabled an exchange of experience concerning best practices in this area and opened up opportunities for continuing specific cooperation in the area of soil protection.

 

 

In addition, the Czech Presidency prepared a joint V4 letter (endorsed by Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia, as well as by Belgium) to Commissioner Hogan concerning the situation in the milk sector. The letter was presented at the Council meeting on 13 July 2015. There are ongoing efforts to place on the European Council agenda the question of situation in commodity markets; common statements on additional two topics discussed at the April ministerial meeting are being prepared.

MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT

 

International conference on “Accounting and reporting for sustainable development”

September 2015, Brno

 

V4 seminar on “Building of the waste-water infrastructure” prepared in cooperation with the Czech Embassy in Belgrade

November 2015, Belgrade

 

Presentation of V4+ approaches to the European Commission’s Smart Cities and Communities initiative

8 April 2016, Ostrava

Conference and workshop organized in cooperation with the Regional Development Ministry

Participating: V4 countries, Croatia, European Commission

V4 + Croatia expert meeting on the sidelines of the EUROPARC CEE General Assembly

16–18 March 2016, Hostětín

 

V4 + BG and RO Environment Ministers meeting

12–13 May 2016, Lednice

Main topics: circulatory economy, biodiversity protection, drought issue

Ministers signed a joint statement

 


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