The Czech Republic assumed the rotating Presidency of the European Union on 1 January 2009, following France and as only the second new EU member state after Slovenia to hold the position. This EPIN Commentary finds that the plans of the Czech Presidency do not lack ambition, for a mid-sized EU member state taking its turn at a rather complicated time for the EU. The Czech government has already re-evaluated its priorities and it now seems ready to focus even more on confronting the major challenges such as the global economic crisis or the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The internal situation in the Czech Republic can negatively influence the overall delivery of the Presidency, but it will not result in a major failure, as some European media have tried to portray it. On the other hand, the coming to an end of the terms of the European Parliament and of the Commission can provide the Czechs with a window of opportunity to focus less on inter-institutional bargaining and more on the work in the Council, especially in terms of finding common grounds on the more controversial issues such as energy security, resuscitation of the European economy and the stabilisation and closer involvement in the Eastern EU neighbourhood.
The author, David Král is Director of the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy in Prague.