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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.04.09: The Czech Presidency - an interim balance - 0 views

  • The Czech political malaise will dent the country’s reputation but just might jumpstart the Lisbon Treaty. PRAGUE | The coalition government of the Czech Republic lost a confidence vote on 24 March and is expected to be out of office within weeks. Leaving aside for the moment the effect on the egocentric Czech political scene, what are the European consequences of the government falling midway through its prestigious European Union presidency?
  • No, the biggest political threat for the union as a whole dealing with the Czech turmoil has to do with the Lisbon Treaty. The way this plot line develops depends on who prevails in Czech politics. Will it be the euroskeptic President Vaclav Klaus or the Klaus-averse coalition of Topolanek’s Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats that may be emerging?
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.03.09: EU foreign ministers at Hluboká: Lisbon treaty a must for future enlargement of the bloc - 0 views

  • The Czech EU presidency hosted an informal meeting of the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers over the weekend in Hluboká, south Bohemia. Although Czech officials went into the meeting with an ambitious agenda it was the Czech Republic’s own domestic crisis that inevitably drew the most attention. Just days after the fall of the country’s centre-right government EU foreign ministers sought reassurances regarding the Czech EU presidency and the fate of the Lisbon treaty.
  • Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he appreciated the “remarkable solidarity” of his colleagues, but said their support was not needed at the moment as the government of PM Mirek Topolánek remained in place for the time being. Mr Schwarzenberg conceded that it would not be possible to go ahead with EU enlargement without the Lisbon treaty in force, and said that the Czech Republic would not be a hurdle in the process. “This whole meeting here was to serve the noble aim of enlarging Europe. And I don’t think we are a hurdle, and I do think that – if you wish to allude to the ratification process [of the Lisbon treaty] – I am sure that it will be ratified in due time.”
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.03.09:Topolánek: Stopping enlargement is a 'road to hell' - 0 views

  • Czech Prime Minister and current EU presidency holder Mirek Topolánek today (13 March) warned that stopping enlargement and introducing new barriers in Europe is a "road to hell". He was writing in English during an online chat session, in response to a question from EurActiv.
  • As EU countries are only expected to offer Croatia a realistic chances of joining the bloc in the near term, holding back the membership aspirations of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania, Topolánek, who had just returned from a tour of the region, strongly advocated a more generous approach to the Western Balkans.  "The citizens of the countries which try to prevent further EU enlargement are opposing the principal idea of the European Community. The civilisation mission and the enlargement of a space of security, prosperity and freedom must be perpetuated, since these are the values upon which the EU was founded. Introducing new iron curtains, barriers or walls is a road to hell," Topolánek said. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.01.09: Czech PM gives scant praise to Lisbon treaty - 0 views

  • Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has trampled on the EU's unspoken rule that presidency countries do not offer a controversial opinion on the sensitive topic of the moment. Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday (14 January), Mr Topolanek, in charge of the EU for the first half of this year, offered only half-hearted support for the EU's new rulebook - seven years in the making and facing an uncertain future - and expressed doubts that Czech citizens would approve it in a referendum.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.01.09: Czechs begin work on legal guarantees for Ireland - 0 views

  • The Czech EU presidency is to begin the complicated task of providing the legal guarantees for the political concessions that Ireland has received on the rejected Lisbon Treaty. Work will soon begin between Irish lawyers, the legal services of the Council (representing member states) and the European Commission, to firm up EU promises to that the treaty will not affect Irish neutrality, abortion or tax laws.
  • Mr Martin admitted that running a second referendum will be "very challenging" but noted that the worsening economic situation in Ireland due to the global financial crisis may make voters "accept that it is far better for Ireland to be at the heart of the European Union ... rather than to marginalise itself."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.01.09: Czechs prepare for possible second Irish No - 0 views

  • The Czech EU presidency is preparing a contingency plan for one of the most sensitive areas in the EU institutional set-up in case Ireland rejects Europe's new treaty for a second time later this year. According to the Irish Times newspaper, Prague is working on a plan for how to reduce the size of the European Commission should Irish voters once again vote No in autumn.
  • "On the composition of the commission we have to be ready for both possible scenarios: One scenario is that the Lisbon Treaty enters force at the end this year or we have to act and co-operate in the EU under Nice," deputy prime minister Alexander Vondra told the newspaper. The rules of the Nice Treaty state that if the number of EU member states reaches 27, the number of commissioners would then be reduced. The EU's pending set of new rules, known as the Lisbon Treaty, however allows the continuation of one commissioner per member state if all EU governments unanimously agree to it.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.01.09: EU efforts to broker a ceasefire in the Palestinian territorities - 0 views

  • The Czech EU presidency this weekend retracted its support for Israel amid the ground attack on Gaza, while France switched its criticism from Israel to Hamas.
  • Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week complained about Israel's disproportionate use of force, laid the lion's share of blame on Hamas in an interview on Monday.
  • The melee of EU diplomats will also be joined on Monday by Tony Blair, the former British leader and current special envoy of the Middle East quartet (the EU, US, UN and Russia).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.12.08: Topolánek: 'My government is not fighting for survival' - 0 views

  • The EU doesn't need to worry about internal political in-fighting in the Czech Republic during its upcoming EU Presidency as the country has seen much worse in times past, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told EurActiv Czech Republic in an exclusive interview.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.12.08: Czechs to reshuffle government ahead of EU presidency - 0 views

  • Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has signalled a government reshuffle just two weeks before it assumes the EU presidency as pressure grows from the opposition Social Democratic party to reach agreement over the Lisbon Treaty.
  • The prime minister's announcement came amid growing pressure from the opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD) to agree upon a coalition programme in view of the imminent Czech Presidency of the EU, which starts on 1 January and will last six months. Topolanek's ruling Civic Democrats (ODS) have emerged weakened from recent regional elections, losing all 13 regions to the opposition CSSD (EurActiv 20/10/08). The CSSD and Communists now hold 97 votes in the 200-seat lower chamber, while Topolanek's ODS only has 96 seats. The remaining seven seats are held by independents.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.08: Czechs to widen EU-US summit to more nations - 0 views

  • Outlining some of the main priories of the incoming Czech EU Presidency, Milena Vicenova, the Czech ambassador to the bloc in Brussels, said her country would seek to hold an "informal summit" with the US in Prague, involving the leaders of the bloc's 27 member states in a departure from the usual European 'troika' format of delegations.
  • Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador also said her country would follow up on proposals tabled by the European Commission earlier this month to develop an Eastern Partnership to improve ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and particularly Ukraine.
  • The Czech ambassador also expressed her hope that the European elections, which are scheduled to take place on 4-7 June 2009, would be a success. "We will do everything in our power to avoid low turnout our voter apathy, and we hope to keep a positive spirit."
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • EU official documents Czech EU Presidency: Website Czech EU Presidency: Priorties
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.12.08: Czechs unveil priorities for EU presidency - 0 views

  • "Europe without barriers" is the motto the Czech government picked for its time at the helm of the six-month rotating EU presidency, a phrase they intend as an allusion to Prague's current free-market orientation, especially when it comes to lifting labour barriers between old and new member states, administrative hurdles and trade relations with countries beyond the EU, Ms Vicenova explained.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.11.08: Debates about lisbon-treaty in Ireland and Czechia - 0 views

  • An Irish parliamentary committee is to debate a report arguing that a second referendum on the EU's Lisbon treaty is legally possible. The draft report, first seen by the Irish Times, has been discussed in a private session by the Subcommittee on Ireland's Future in the EU and is due to be presented to the joint Committee on European Affairs on Thursday (27 November).
  • It argues that a second poll on the EU's new reform treaty - following the debacle in June when the Irish voters rejected the document by a clear majority - would be preferable, suggesting a vote on the same text but accompanied by clarifying declarations on controversial issues.
  • Meanwhile, Prague is expecting a verdict from the Czech constitutional court on whether the EU reform plan is in line with the Czech constitution after a heated exchange between the country's president and government officials in the courtroom on Tuesday (25 November). The Czech Republic is the only country that has not yet voted on the Lisbon treaty. Despite this fact, the republic is preparing to take over the helm of the EU from France in January, when it assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency, and must then lead talks with Ireland on how to solve the institutional problem.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.10.08: Weakened Czech leader pledges EU treaty ratification - 0 views

  • Reeling from a huge political blow in last weekend's regional elections, Czech centre-right Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said that his country - set to chair the EU as of January - will push forward the ratification of the bloc's new Lisbon treaty. "It would be very complicated to talk with the Irish about their ratification process and conditions of the process if we ourselves did not ratify the Lisbon treaty," Mr Topolanek said during a visit by German leader Angela Merkel to Prgaue on Monday (20 October), suggesting he would try his best to deal with the document at national level "by the end of this year," CTK agency reported
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.09.08: Forthcoming Presidencies will focus on the Balkans - 0 views

  • EU enlargement, particularly to the Western Balkan countries, is set to feature high on the agenda of the bloc's two presidencies in 2009, with Croatia seen as likely to conclude its EU membership talks next year, said the Czech Republic and Sweden - the next two member states to hold the EU's six-month rotating chairmanship after France.
  • During the presentation of their common programme, the current presidential trio - France, the Czech Republic and Sweden - also stressed their general support for the whole Balkan region and its "path towards EU integration." "The whole region will be a priority during our consecutive presidencies," Ms Malmstrom pointed out.
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