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Europe faces fallout of Czech crisis

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Europe faces fallout of Czech crisis

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The European Union goes into next week’s G20 summit with its leadership in question and with rifts with Washington exposed.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek told the European parliament yesterday his country’s presidency of the EU will not be affected by the fall of his government. He then went on to call the US economic rescue plan “a way to hell.” Topolanek said that the history books show Washington’s stimulus plan and protectionist tendencies are wrong and that Europe had done well to decide not to follow that route. Beyond the G20 summit, the vote of no confidence in Topolanek’s government presents longer term doubts for Europe. Prague still needs to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which is designed to give EU decision making and diplomacy a sharper focus. As the President of the European Parliament, Hans Gert Pöttering put it: “We have a meeting with US President Barack Obama on April 5 and we need a symbol showing the strength and solidarity of Europe and that is why we need the Lisbon Treaty.” Topolanek backs the treaty, but with him expected to resign today, it is far from certain the Czech senate will give its approval when it votes on the treaty next month. Ireland and Poland also need to ratify the text. In the meantime the EU’s presidency lies in the hands of a fallen government.