RECETOX as an active participant of Czech Presidency

Six months. That is how long the Czech Republic was at the helm of the Council of the European Union (CZ PRES). The historic second Czech Presidency, with the slogan "Europe as a task," started on 1 July and ended on 31 December 2022. The Czech Republic faced several challenges as the presiding country, including the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and the negotiations on the EU Green Deal. The RECETOX experts helped during the Presidency. They were actively involved in international decision making on contemporary environmental issues.

25 Jan 2023 RECETOXFaculty of Science

During the Czech Presidency of the EU Council, politicians and scientists from Czech research institutions contributed to the visibility of the Czech Republic. RECETOX scientists regularly spoke at international meetings and shared their scientific expertise with politicians and other scientific colleagues. The RECETOX Centre's experience in research funding at European and national levels was shared with European ministers by Professor Jana Klánová, Director of the RECETOX Centre, at the informal meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council in August 2022. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of the Environment, the RECETOX Centre was actively involved in preparing an international scientific symposium organized by Masaryk University under the auspices of the Minister for European Affairs Mikuláš Bek in Brussels, November 2022.

Experts from the National Centre for Toxic Compounds, which is part of RECETOX, participated in the events linked to the EU chemical agenda and global and regional environmental protection. The involvement of RECETOX in the activities of the Ministry of Environment during the Presidency took place at three levels - national, European, and international meetings outside the EU.

Lukáš Pokorný adds: "The most demanding were EU working level meetings, given the team coordination and time. The Presidency team has to prepare position papers and spends dozens of hours in doing so. They must coordinate numerous inputs and ensure that the resulting EU position is correct and, above all, comprehensible. After the meeting, incorporation of dozens of comments coming from both the member states and the European Commission has to take place."

At the working level, the Centre contributed to the preparation of meetings and submissions to the EU Council Working Parties on International Environmental Issues (WP IEI) in three settings: chemicals and synergies, global issues, and regional issues (WP IEI Chemicals/Synergies/Global/Regional issues). WP IEI Chemicals/Synergies meetings were held once a month, and RECETOX experts were in charge of preparing documents for international meetings at the global level, where the representatives of the Czech Republic coordinated the EU positions and spoke on its behalf. These meetings were:

- IP4, the fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP 4.1 from 29 August to 2 September 2022 and IP 4.2 from 27 February to 3 March 2023)

- the first and second meetings of the ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group on a science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution (OEWG 1.1 - 6 October 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, and online, OEWG 1.2 30 January - 3 February 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand)

RECETOX experts provided the inputs on chemicals management at these meetings and chaired or negotiated on specific items. In the case of the IP4 SAICM, the main objective was to bring together the prepared draft objectives, tools, and procedures into a single framework document and to draft a long-term framework that will set the globally sound and responsible management of chemicals and wastes, post-2020. The RECETOX also negotiated on behalf of the EU on mechanisms to support implementation and institutional arrangements for the future framework.

"Having a global framework for chemicals is really important. It will become a backbone on how to deal with wastes and chemicals for at least 2/3 of countries in the world. Some countries have limited or even no legislation, they lack institutions and may not have enough information. This new framework and its tools will help them - and us - to achieve better protection of the environment and the health of our citizens much faster," says Kateřina Šebková, director of the National Center for Toxic Compounds.

The final version of the global beyond 2020 framework will be adopted at the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in September 2023.

Read more about the global issues that RECETOX has addressed during the Czech Presidency in the forthcoming text.

Lukáš Pokorný (left), Kateřina Šebková (in the middle), Natálie Šelleová (right)

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