The Czech Republic and the European Union
The Czech Republic became a Member State of the European Union on 1 May 2004. This was the culmination of a long period in which relations with the European Communities were strengthened, beginning with a sectoral trade agreement and gradually expanding into closer commercial and political co-operation. The promotion of closer relations with the EU in all areas became characteristic of the independent Czech Republic, in particular, as it had made EU accession one of its primary foreign policy priorities.
As currently the majority of national environmental legislation originates from EU’s regulations and directives, it is crucial that the interests of the Czech Republic are properly represented in the EU Council and the European Parliament. Therefore the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic actively participates in the meetings of the Working Party on the Environment, Coreper I and Environment Council. From 1 January 2009 till 30 June 2009 the Czech Republic held presidency in the EU Council.
Besides cooperation within institutions of the Union, the Czech Republic has been developing its bilateral ties with neighbouring states as well as other countries – e.g. in the framework of the Czech-German Joint Commission on the Environment, the Czech-Polish Intergovernmental Commission for Cross-border Cooperation or the Visegrad Group. The Czech Republic has also been active in several twinning projects helping candidate countries harmonize their legislation with the EU environmental acquis. Currently, it is together with Germany undertaking a project in Serbia on air quality.