Now that the Czech Republilc EU presidency has been hard at work for two weeks, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will make his launch speech at the European Parliament this Wednesday. It comes on the heels of mostly consistent praise for his country’s performance so far.
The first ex-Warsaw Pact country to be put in charge of EU business immediately had to deal with the crises of the Gaza conflict and gas supplies to Europe. The Co-president of the Greens group, Daniel Cohn- Bendit, said: “The Czech presidency has started out well in that it had Europe behind it, it was a European presidency. Since Europe is a force and a reality, it was able to play its role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine and it did its job.” The President of the European People’s Party, Joseph Daul, also praised Prague: “I believe the Czech presidency is going to succeed. It’s always in crises that the best generals win recognition, and we’ll judge when we come to the end of it but the beginning was good.” Prague got a heavy dose of foreign affairs fast. The President of the Parliament’s liberals, Graham Watson, looked ahead to more internal matters: “I look forward to the debate with him, and working with the Czech presidency on issues like the conciliation process for the working time directive, on issues like cutting the cost of sending text messages over mobile phones, all the things that are important to the people of Europe.” The parliament directly elected by Europeans for the past 30 years works in tandem with each Council presidency. For the next six months it will be held by a country less than five years in the EU, and one that has a reputation for euroscepticism.