June 25, 2009
End of Czech EU presidency “relatively successful”
The European summit of last week kept open the possibility for the Lisbon Treaty to come into effect later this year and signified an important first step in reforming European financial markets. “The Czech presidency ended well,” French president Nicolas Sarkozy was reported saying by the Austrian Wiener Zeitung.
Big challenges for the Czechs were the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the gas struggle between Russia and Ukraine and the accelerating economic crisis, hardly leaving room for setting own priorities, e.g. progress in the approximation to the EU of the West Balkan countries.
Few problems were solved since the beginning of the year. Gaffes of Czech politicians and internal disputes made the headlines in European newspapers. The frictions even within prime minister Mirek Topolanek’s own ODS party eventually forced him to resign half way through his EU presidency.
Commotion was also triggered by bold declarations of Mr Topolanek, stating that US president Barack Obama’s way of handling the economic crisis would lead to a “road to hell”, and of Czech president Vaclav Klaus who in the European parliament compared the EU decision-making process with that of the Soviet Union.
Jan Fisher, appointed as transition prime minister and determined to bring his country’s EU presidency to a good end, seemed nervous at last week’s summit. Still, at the end there were the guarantees for Ireland, a consensus on a second term for Jose Manuel Barroso as Commission president, and a mandate for the Commission to draft a legislative proposal on financial regulation this autumn.
A “relatively successful ending” was the judgment of Brussels think tank European Policy Centre. It considers the transition government under Fisher and foremost the professionalism of its foreign minister, former ambassador to the EU Jan Kohout, the main contributors to a decent finish.
Read the article in German on WienerZeitung.at