Who speaks to Obama at EU-US summit? Czechs unsure

4th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Czech EU presidency, hit by a domestic political crisis, is less efficient at decision-making than it should be, one diplomat said.

Brussels -- Which of the 27 EU leaders will get to speak in front of US President Barack Obama in Prague on Sunday?

The Czech EU presidency, hit by a domestic political crisis, hasn't sorted it out yet, the deputy prime minister said Thursday.

"There is limited time and a lot of leaders in one room," Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said regarding the EU-US summit in Prague on Sunday.

"We are always talking about the need to speak with one voice in the EU so we have engaged ourselves in a difficult process of trying to structure this meeting into an orchestra," he told reporters in Brussels.

Otherwise you just get everyone talking "with statements repeating or conflicting themselves," he added, stressing that the process of choosing the speakers was ongoing.

The idea is to have chosen European leaders lead the debate on three main issues -- the economic crisis, climate change and energy security and international affairs.

"I believe we will succeed," he said.

As things stand British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, host of Thursday's G20 summit in London, will take the lead role in the economic talks, something diplomats from other EU nations said was quite acceptable and obvious.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Zapatero, whose countries are next in line to assume the EU presidency, are set to head the debate on climate change, according to diplomats.

But a European diplomat voiced impatience at the Czech EU presidency, which has been plunged into uncertainty after the government in Prague lost a parliamentary confidence vote last month, forcing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to offer his resignation.

"It's three days away. It would be nice if things got organised," the diplomat said.

The EU-US summit, the first for US President Barack Obama, "is not the only matter where there is a bit of a mess," he added, citing Topolanek's situation.

Topolanek said Wednesday that his centre-right governing coalition had agreed that a new government will replace it during the Czech presidency of the European Union which runs until the end of June.

The outgoing prime minister added that the existing cabinet would work through April before giving way to a temporary government, which would lead the country until early elections expected in mid-October.

That also leaves the question of who will preside at a European employment summit in early May.

That summit has already been watered down into a reduced format, amid a lack of enthusiasm in some nations -- notably France and Germany.

Vondra said he was also not sure who would preside over the EU's first Eastern Partnership summit, also on May 7, which will bring together EU leaders and their counterparts in six former Soviet republics.

The only certainty is that eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose position is not threatened by the fall of the government, will represent the EU presidency at an EU-Russia summit in Siberia on May 21-22.

Asked whether Klaus had asked to play a leading role at some of the other meetings, as some European leaders fear, Vondra replied that "as far as I know, not yet."


0 Comments To This Article