The above is the title of an article in the German Magazine Der Spiegel by Ulrike Guérot. The opening paragraph states the following:
The Czech Republic proved that small EU states are not up to running the EU Council Presidency. Leadership on such a scale is simply beyond their means. Nevertheless, Sweden hopes to see the Lisbon Treaty ratified. Then it wants to lay the foundations for a real European foreign policy.
I disagree completely that statement and the other assertions made throughout the rest of the article. While the Czech Presidency might not have been the most successful Presidency, it had a number of drawbacks.
- The Czechs followed the French and Sarkozy tried to extend the French Presidency by leading trips that coincided with EU trips to the likes of Palestine, thereby undermining the Czech Presidency.
- The Government collapsed in the middle of the Presidency. A country can take all the time in the world to prepare for a Presidency but when domestic issues raise their heads and cause the Government to collapse its not easy to keep going, but the Czechs managed it.
- A eurosceptic President doesnt help! There is nothing the Czechs could have done about their President Vaclav Klaus, but he certainly didnt help the image of the Czech Presidency.
Previous small countries who have held the EU’s rotating have had very successful presidency and large countries have held unsuccessful presidencys. It is a matter of outside events that can sometimes make or break a presidency which has nothing to do with how big or small a country is.
Ireland, as one of the smaller member states has always been praised for its Presidencys, including its last one in 2004 which over say the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 member states and getting agreement on the Draft Constitution Treaty.
The Czechs were unlucky in terms of outside (and internal) events, hopefully the Swedes will be more lucky!
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- Collapse of Czech government shows weakness in EU (federalunion.org.uk)