Foreign Policy Blogs

Czech Republic brings sugar and spice to the EU

One of the oddoties of the of the European Union is that each 6-months one Member-State takes over the running of one of the three main Institutions of the Union. Fom January to June this year, the Czech Republic will take over the running of the Council which brings together representatives of Member-States.  and whose approval is needed for any EU laws to be passed. A good comparison is the Senate in the US, however in the Council,  the Government represenatives meet secretly (this will be changed in the Treaty of Lisbon so that Council session when voting on legislating takes place will be made public, though sadly the deliberations and the exciting deal-making stuff will still remain secret).

eu-2009-czLogo of current Czech Presidency

The six-monthly Presidencies often brings strange combinations to the head of EU policy-making, with ardent pro-EU integrationists being forced to take decisions with Eurosceptics. This has come to pass in spectacular style with the current Presidency of the Czech Republic. At the beginning of their Presidency they announced that their motto was that they would “sweeten europe” however, the same saying in Czech also means “we’ll give Europe a taste of its own medicine”. The Czechs then unveiled an art instillation called “Entropa” by native artist David Cerny which had not-so-flattering cartoon sculptures of all 27 Membr-States, including Bulgaria as  a toilet, Romania as a Dracula theme-park and France as a country totally shut down as it is on strike.

france-is-on-strike France is on strike: David Cerny’s “Entropa”

These incidents have, at least, inserted some life into the normally banal Presidency and have forced the EU to ask questions about itself. On Thursday last at the European Parliament, many many uncomfortable quesitons about democracy and accountability were posed by the Eurosceptic Czech President Václav Klaus resulting in boos and walk-out by some of the Parliamentarians when he compared the EU to soviet-dictatorships. He didn’t exactly try to reach-out to them when he later denied the legitimacy of the elected Parliament (he siad this to 750+ parliamentarians who will be facing an electorate of 500 million in June!).

klaus Czech President Václav Klaus

Klaus believes that Czech Republic is better off without the EU and that it should instead concentrate on liberalisation and deregulation as a solution to current difficulties. The views of Klaus are greatly at odds with that of Václav Havel, the hero of the Velvet Revolution who brought the Czech Republic into the European Union. It’s also difficult to see how a small country like the Czech Republic can prosper and thrive in the liberalised markets Klaus perscribes without strong co-operation with its neighbours to mantian these markets and defeat the worst excesses of free-capitalism. Whether he likes it or not, the policies of Klaus will likely give rise to more rather than less integration in teh European Union and around the world.

 

Author

David Garrahy

David Garrahy works in Brussels monitoring European Union activites. He is originally from Ireland and studied a Degree in Law & European Studies at the University of Limerick before earning a Masters in Globalisation at Dublin City Universty. Previously he has worked in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and as a Legislative Aide for an Irish Senator. His involvement in the EU has included working for the Irish Forum on Europe and campaigning in Referenda in favour of the Nice & Lisbon Treaties.

Area of Focus
Europe; Globalisation; European Comission.

Contact

Great Decisions Discussion group