A weak government. A Euro-skeptic president. Parliament in stalemate over an EU reform treaty. The Czech Republic does not look ideally suited to assume leadership of the European Union.
On Thursday, the Czechs take over the bloc’s six-month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe’s economic woes.
The Czech Republic, only the second post-communist EU newcomer to take the bloc’s helm, will face the daunting task of implementing a $258 billion European economic stimulus package approved by EU leaders under the French presidency.
By KAREL JANICEK, Associated Press Writer
In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo Czech President Vaclav Klaus gestures during a press conference, at the Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, in Bucharest, Romania. On Thursday Jan. 1, 2009, the Czechs take over the bloc’s six month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe’s economic woes.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
The nation of about 10 million people bordering Germany and Poland is also the last EU member to vote on the stalled Lisbon Treaty — a blueprint for reforming the EU that supporters say is essential for it to work effectively.