Monday, 16 February 2009

Czech stewardship: We don’t give a damn

This blog has highlighted governments of European Union member states doing their level best to ignore the fundamental principles of European integration and loyal cooperation.

France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy entered the race to the bottom with his disregard for the internal market and its competition rules, calling French automakers home to roost and banning local ones from exiting.

The UK Home Office qualified by preventing both free movement and free speech by Dutch MP Geert Wilders, reasoning that the object of a security threat is to be excluded as the perpetrator.

The Czech government has repeatedly postponed the parliamentary ratification votes for various unrelated reasons of internal politicking. It should probably have entered this inglorious competition on past merits.

But now deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra has told the rest of Europe that it is the sovereign right of the Czech and Irish governments to delay ratification at will.

Don’t pressure us over EU treaty: Czechs, reports EUbusiness (15 February 2009):


Words like these can be expected from populists on the political fringes, but they are hardly the message to brandish if you are in office in an EU member state.

Unconcern toward the express wishes of the quasi-totality of EU governments and parliaments would be damning during the best of times.

But the European elections are coming up, and the longer the uncertainty prevails, the more complicated the composition of the European Parliament gets and the harder it will be to elect the new Commission. The new role of the High Representative and the European External Action Service are postponed, when Europe urgently needs to get its act together on the world stage.

Vondra has discredited his country, doubly so because it is in charge of the EU Council, with a moral obligation to drive forward the common interests, not pander to nationalist sentiments.

At the same time the Czech government has contributed to the survival of the rotating Council presidencies long enough to prove eloquently, why the current lottery system needs to be scrapped.


We have at least three strong government level contenders for the 2009 Esprit de Clocher UE knighthood.

Name your favourite (with reasons) or enter a new contender for the master class of gaffes.

Ralf Grahn