“The EU Presidency Is Too Big for Small Nations”

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Do check out the Swedish Presidency Website and the tweeters of the Presidency

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“Lisbon treaty now in Irish hands.”

Image via Wikipedia

The above is according to Elmar Brok MEP (CDU/EPP). This because today the Czech Senate today approved the Treaty of Lisbon, leaving Ireland as the only EU member state not to have passed it.

From the press release:

“Now the Lisbon  treaty lies in the hands of Ireland  , because there is no alternative to the Lisbon treaty. The people in Ireland have made it clear that they want the European Union to be more democratic, transparent and efficient. This can only be achieved with the Lisbon treaty” Brok said.

The EU summit in June has to set the conditions for a new referendum in Ireland  . “The Irish government should submit a timetable for the ratification of the Lisbon  treaty in the entire European Union, in order to make Europe fit for the future”, he emphasised.

That said summit in June will be interesting as it will be chaired by Václav Klaus, the Lisbon-hating President of the Czech Republic.

Brok continues

“Many concerns of Irish citizens regarding the Lisbon  treaty are unfounded and can be met by declarations of the European Council, which will later become legally binding. The Lisbon  treaty makes the EU more democratic, because it strengthens the European Parliament and the national parliaments. Decision-making will become more efficient under Lisbon, for example by the expansion of majority decisions in the Council. Overall, the work of the European Union becomes more democratic, more efficient, and more transparent”.

Of course we still have to see these declarations and see will they actually mean some of the valid concerns that people have. Of course there won’t be a referendum on the Treaty until October which means hopefully the Government will be a bit more prepared for it.

If you are wondering the vote in the Czech Senate was 54 in favour to 20 against with 5 abstensions.
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