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Mixed reaction from European Parliament to Czech EU presidency
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20:40, July 15, 2009

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The European Parliament on Wednesday gave a mixed reaction to the Czech Republic's performance as holder of the European Union (EU) presidency for the first half of 2009.

Speaking on behalf of the newly formed European Conservatives and Reformists group, Jan Zahradil of the Czech Republic praised his country for managing to maintain the organization and continuity of the EU presidency, despite the fall of the government in March, halfway through the country's six-month EU presidency.

"The Czech (EU) presidency clearly proves that even a mid-sized country and a so-called new member state, can really do a very good job," he told a plenary session.

Rebecca Harms of the Greens, however, characterized the Czech EU presidency as a total failure.

"What we would have liked the Czech presidency to achieve, in terms of the challenges, unfortunately has not happened.

"For more than a year, we have been discussing the need for regulation of the financial market, but we're really not making any progress," she said.

Harms said an energy efficiency plan, which would have created jobs in Europe, had not been considered, and that in terms of climate change, "we are very far away from what needs to be done."

Libor Roucek of the Czech Republic for the Socialist group agreed that difficulties within the Czech Republic's governing coalition and disputes between the government and President Vaclav Klaus meant the Czech EU presidency was never going to be easy.

Milsoslav Ransdorf of the Czech Republic for the Confederal Group of the European United Left -- Nordic Green Left group, said the Czech EU presidency was saved by Prime Minister Jan Fischer's government and by the prime minister personally. Fischer took over as prime minister in March after the collapse of Mirek Topolanek's government.

Ransdorf said the gas supply agreement Topolanek brokered between Russia and Ukraine was a success, but the EU's response to the economic crisis had not met citizens' expectations.

Andreas Moelzer of Austria, who spoke for the non-aligned members of the European Parliament, noted the "chaos" caused by the Czech Republic's government crisis.

The EU had not been successful in dealing with the Middle East crisis. The vote on the Lisbon Treaty had been delayed, and there was still no agreement on the maritime border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia, he said.

Fischer, in response, said his country had done its best.

In his opening statement, Fischer stressed that his country's government crisis "did not cause any serious damage to the EU as a whole."


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