The Czech Presidency of the EU Council begins, the CAS to play an active role

01. 07. 2022

On Friday, 1 July, the Czech Republic is assuming the role of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Its task will be to lead the Council meetings during the following six months, set the agenda, and seek compromises among the 27 EU countries. The Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) will also take part by focusing on the priorities of the presidency. It will develop three main areas of interest: food security including GMOs, low-emission energy, and a resilient society.

The first area (food safety and GMOs) responds to the anticipated difficulties associated with food shortages and ongoing climate change. At the same time, it builds on recent discoveries in molecular genetics that have led to advances in the targeted genome editing of agricultural crops.

The second area of interest is the development of low-emission and safe energy solutions, with an emphasis on clean nuclear energy, reacting to one of the most pressing issues in Europe today.

The third priority is the vision of a resilient society. It entails sociological, philosophical, and economic research, looking for ways to improve trust in state institutions, and increasing the resilience of society against the spread of disinformation.

These three priorities build on the programmes of the CAS Strategy AV21 and respond to specific challenges of the contemporary world. “There is a need to ensure food security, but also sustainable energy – for a society that is to be self-confident, self-sufficient, and competitive, resilient to the crises that are yet to come,” Eva Zažímalová, President of the CAS, explained the unifying vision. We’ve touched upon some of these issues, for instance, in our web articles The Academy Assembly discussed the research priorities of the Czech Presidency of the EU and Nuclear and renewable energy the way out of the current energy crisis.

New cultivation methods to be greenlighted?
For a long time, European researchers have been calling for the EU to allow the option of using new methods of crop cultivation via CRISPR technology. As is written in the materials of the CAS pertaining to the presidency, “The Czech Academy of Sciences is convinced that these ground-breaking genome-editing methods have not only been subjected to sufficient and thorough research and proven safe, but given their simplicity, targeting, precision, relatively low cost, and flexibility, they represent a highly desirable and necessary tool in light of the expanding range of challenges facing the EU agricultural sector.”

In the past, the CAS also issued an expert opinion on this topic intended for legislators, entitled “Genetic Modification of Crops” (downloadable as PDF – Czech only). The topic is debated within the framework of the Strategy AV21 as part of the Foods for the Future research programme.

Energy security in the context of the war in Ukraine
The scientific priorities of the Czech Presidency were being put together even before Russia invaded Ukraine – after the war broke out, the topics took on a whole new dimension. Take the energy industry, for instance. The war has led to a hike in energy prices and clearly exposes the vulnerability of Europe in terms of resource availability and dependence on Russian natural gas.

There is therefore mounting pressure to diversify the sources in the energy mix, an area that is also being addressed by researchers at the Czech Academy of Sciences. Specifically, they are focusing on nuclear energy, photovoltaics, and the development of thermonuclear fusion energy sources.

Are we resilient enough as a society?
The third, but certainly no less important, priority is social resilience (or Resilient Society), which is based on the programme of the same name within the framework of the Strategy AV21. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to cope successfully, or even grow, when facing a crisis, an unexpected or threatening emergency, and/or a change in living conditions. Such a crisis for society in recent years has undoubtedly been the COVID-19 pandemic and, in recent months, the war in Ukraine.

“The main event will be the ‘Facets of Resilience’ conference, which I am organising with Petra Guasti and which will take place from 21 to 23 November 2022. We want to instigate a broadscale debate across the scientific community, government institutions, and the public sphere about the fundamental issues of contemporary society,” says Alice Koubová from the Institute of Philosophy of the CAS, the programme coordinator.

The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU commences on 1 July 2022 and will last until the end of the year. Sweden will take over the baton of EU leadership from the Czech Republic. More information is to be found on the website of the Czech Presidency.

Prepared by: Leona Matušková, Division of External Relations, CAO of the CAS
Translated by: Tereza Novická, Division of External Relations, CAO of the CAS
Photo: Archive of the CAS

Licence Creative Commons The text is released for use under the Creative Commons licence.

The Czech Academy of Sciences (the CAS)

The mission of the CAS

The primary mission of the CAS is to conduct research in a broad spectrum of natural, technical and social sciences as well as humanities. This research aims to advance progress of scientific knowledge at the international level, considering, however, the specific needs of the Czech society and the national culture.

President of the CAS

Prof. Eva Zažímalová has started her second term of office in May 2021. She is a respected scientist, and a Professor of Plant Anatomy and Physiology.

She is also a part of GCSA of the EU.