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European Union: Czech Republic Assumes Presidency in January 2009

(Dec. 8, 2008) With its ascent to the six-month rotating European Union presidency scheduled to commence on January 1, 2009, the Czech Republic is setting the agenda for its leadership role. The Czech government has chosen as its representative slogan “Europe without barriers,” alluding to the country's stand on eliminating the labor barriers between the new and old member states. As Prague's Ambassador to the European Union, Milena Vicenova, articulated, the Czech Republic has established “three E's” at the center of its EU presidency agenda: economy and efficiency, energy, and external relations. In regard to the current global financial crisis and the stimulus package put together by the European Commission with the support of the current French presidency of the EU, the Ambassador stated that the Czech Republic does not wish “to return to protectionism and excessive state regulation,” thus distancing itself from the French presidency, which called for more government intervention. The lack of discussion of EU-Russia relations in the context of the external relations priority is also considered to be a move away from past statements.

The Ambassador also stated that the Czech Republic was moving towards ratification of the Lisbon Treaty sometime in January 2009, following a positive decision of the country's constitutional court. (Czechs Unveil Priorities for EU Presidency, EU OBSERVER, Dec. 1, 2008, available at