A speech in the European Parliament by Czech President Vaclav Klaus has proven too irritating for many of the members to bear. They walked out.
Basically, Klaus said, ‘you might not want to hear my views on European integration but we Czechs lived through 40 years of communism and let me tell you freedom of expression is an absolute necessity.’ Klaus told the assembly it was out of touch with the people of Europe — distant — and that the people were fed up. The eurosceptics ate it up. “The modifications proposed in the European Constitution which was rejected, and in the Lisbon Treaty, which is not much different, will make this lack of democracy worse. In the absence of a European demos, a European people, reinforcing the role of the European Parliament is not going to solve things.” It started well, everyone standing while Beethoven’s Ode to Joy was played. The Czech Republic holds the rotating EU presidency for the first half of this year. Klaus also said political interference was the cause of the current economic crisis.