The Czech Republic, now steering the European Union’s rotating presidency, has been forced to move on quickly from its inaugural celebration. It must address stark realities in the six months ahead, from Mideast turmoil to the Russian energy noose. The caseload will be financial, political, diplomatic, commercial, strategic, environmental and institutional.
At the head of the first ex-Communist Warsaw Pact state to take up the task, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek presented the programme in Prague. He said: “The motto of the Czech Presidency is ‘Europe without barriers,’ and I think this is specially important in the times we are now facing—very turbulent in economic terms.”
Alexandr Vondra, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs talked also about Europe’s competivity. He said: “The reduction of administrative burden is another topic of our presidency. We will make impact assessments this spring on how the European Union and member states are doing. This is certainly one of the ways to solve the economic crisis, reducing administrative burdens, especially on small and medium-sized companies.”The Czechs have raised concern among some EU states over their ability to lead but have tried to quell those fears. As if in illustration of the uncertainty, the European flag hoisted in Prague for January 1 was vandalised.