Czech EU presidency begins

The Czech Republic takes over the European Union's rotating presidency from France on July 1. The country's first EU presidency in 2009 went down as a fiasco due to the fall of the country's government at the time. Commentators wonder how things will turn out this time round.

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Sme (SK) /

No more embarrassments, please!

Writing in Sme, journalist Jindřich Šídlo is disturbed by parallels with the first Czech EU Council presidency in 2009:

“Once again the government is headed by a prime minister from the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party ODS. Back then it was Mirek Topolánek, now it's Petr Fiala. The economic situation is deteriorating from day to day while public discontent is growing. After Václav Klaus, Miloš Zeman - another president who cannot stand for re-election but perhaps wants to settle old scores - is sitting in Prague Castle. And the leader of the opposition Andrej Babiš is an irresponsible populist. ... In 2009 it was the leader of the Social Democratic Party Jiří Paroubek who played this role.”

Reflex (CZ) /

Just a marketing bubble

For Reflex all the fuss about the EU Council Presidency is completely superfluous:

“Ex-Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who was head of the EU Council until his government was toppled in 2009, says: 'The idea that we can implement something fundamental or realign European policy during this presidency is completely wrong. ... It brings high costs, questionable returns and domestic vulnerability.' The EU presidency mostly functions as bait, especially for smaller and medium-sized countries hoping to gain temporary prominence. And it is meant to convey the impression that the democratic mechanisms in the European Union are working as they should.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Key moment for ordinary citizens

Hospodářské noviny also sees the EU Presidency as an opportunity:

“More is being said and written about the EU. Its rough edges, its light and dark sides are becoming better known. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the looming energy crisis are precisely the kind of big moments when ordinary citizens have the opportunity to examine where the power and advantages of membership lie: whether it's reconstruction money, the joint purchase of vaccines or gas. ... It's up to the politicians to explain these specific things. There is still a big deficit here in this country. People still prefer to blame 'Brussels' for unpopular measures instead of talking about the advantages of membership.”