The country’s first presidency increases the attention paid to EU affairs

The Czech Pres­i­den­cy, which began on 1 Jan­u­ary 2009, has increased mass media inter­est in EU affairs in gen­er­al. Both the gas cri­sis and the Gaza con­flict received extend­ed cov­er­age in the Czech Repub­lic. The gas cri­sis fur­ther stressed the top­ic of ener­gy secu­ri­ty, which already before this event was a pri­or­i­ty of the Czech gov­ern­ment. One of the main pri­or­i­ties of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy is ener­gy, includ­ing find­ing solu­tions to both cli­mate change and ener­gy sup­ply vulnerability.[1] From a Czech per­spec­tive, how­ev­er, the depen­dence on Russ­ian ener­gy sources has always been more of a pri­or­i­ty than the dis­cus­sions on cli­mate change.[2] Yet, despite the aware­ness of the impor­tance of the top­ic, the gov­ern­ing coali­tion is split on how to pro­vide ener­gy to the coun­try in the future, due to a split on the future of nuclear ener­gy.

Dur­ing the autumn it was wide­ly dis­cussed whether the Czech Pres­i­den­cy will be dis­cred­it­ed due to the euroscep­tic image of the coun­try. It was the lack of progress con­cern­ing the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty in the Czech Republic[3] as well as the behav­iour of Pres­i­dent Václav Klaus that caused wor­ries among parts of the domes­tic polit­i­cal elite, ana­lysts and journalists.[4] Klaus’ meet­ing with Declan Gan­ley dur­ing a state vis­it to Ire­land in Novem­ber was large­ly dis­cussed and not only in the Czech Repub­lic. Lat­er, Klaus got into a quar­rel with a del­e­ga­tion from the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment dur­ing their vis­it to Prague, and Klaus was also crit­i­cised by French Pres­i­dent Sarkozy for his refusal to hoist the EU flag on the Prague Castle.[5]

 

 

[1] Work Pro­gramme of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy Europe with­out Bar­ri­ers, avail­able at: http://www.eu2009.cz/en/czech-presidency/programme-and-priorities/programme-and-priorities-479/ (last access: 31 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[2] Ener­gy secu­ri­ty tops Czech Pres­i­den­cy agen­da, 7 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/opinion/energy-security-tops-czech-presidency-agenda/article-178322  (last access: 31 Jan­u­ary 2009); Czechs push for greater EU focus on elec­tric­i­ty, 3 Feb­ru­ary 2009, avail­able at; http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/czechs-push-greater-eu-focus-electricity/article-179083 (last access: 3 Feb­ru­ary 2009).
[3] See ques­tion 1.
[4] Klaus-Gan­ley meet­ing not to affect Czech posi­tion in EU – ana­lysts, 11 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at:  http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=343733 (last access: 31 Jan­u­ary 2009)
[5] For­eign Min. dis­miss­es Sarkozy’s crit­i­cism of no EU flag by Klaus, 16 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/tema/index_view.php?id=350400&id_seznam=2019 (last access: 25 Feb­ru­ary 2009), see also Grumpy Uncle Vaclav, 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12724780 (last access 31 Jan­u­ary 2009).