The Czech Prime Minister and President of the European Council answers questions connected with the Presidency and the change of the Czech Government.
1.Has the change of the Czech Government affected the Czech Presidency of the EU Council?
I strongly believe that the reputation of the Czech Republic among the representatives of the EU structures and the Member States has not been harmed. My government considers the Presidency of the EU Council to be our current priority and it will not disrupt the continuity. My first foreign visit in office – three days after my appointment – lead me to Brussels where I met President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso i, other Commissioners and representatives of the Council General Secretariat, and I received their full support. None of the Prime Ministers I had the chance to talk to either in private or by phone withdrew their support. The mandate and tasks of the Czech Presidency have not changed, and I am convinced that we will round off the Czech Presidency successfully.
2.Won't the "caretaker government" lack political power?
Although my government has not been elected in general elections, its mission statements will be approved by the Parliament; therefore, it does cooperate with the politicians. It is a government that will not present bold and revolutionary political proposals but it will work hard anyway: it must prepare next year's budget and it must combat negative impacts of the economic crisis. The same can be said of our work at European level – the EU will have to face the issue of rising unemployment, among others, and the Czech Presidency does not want to slow down the pace started along with the remaining Member States.
3.Will the change of government affect the Czech voter turnout in the European elections?
As you know, the average voter turnout has been on the decline throughout the EU in the thirty year since the first European elections. Over 28% of voters took part in the first and, so far, last European election held in the Czech Republic. Having said that – and with full awareness that any such estimate is very difficult – I am slightly optimistic. Thanks to the Czech Presidency, the Czechs have leaned closer to the European Union and have got to know it better; therefore, I believe that the voter turnout will not drop compared to the last election. However, I do not want to make any specific predictions as to the voter turnout or the winning party – that's for the voters to decide.
4.Is the nomination of the President of the next European Commission affected in any way?
This is one of the serious issues on the agenda of the June Council meeting, and the Czech Republic respects the rule that nominations are not announces prior to the European elections. Personally, I have had very good experiences with the current President of the European Union and I appreciate his work very much. My predecessor in the office of the Czech Prime Minister and President of the EU Council, Mirek Topolánek, went so far as to grant his express support to the current President. As the presiding state, we will do our best to make sure that the EU Member States reach the widest consensus possible and the President of the new European Commission has the strongest mandate possible.
5.What is your opinion on the Lisbon Treaty and its ratification in the Czech Republic?
I see the Lisbon Treaty first and foremost as a political document that is the outcome of long work and negotiations of the Member States, and I do not have any rational problem with it. Of course, it is a result of the art of the possible in action, as things tend to be in politics, but that is all I can say regarding the Lisbon Treaty. I cannot rule out that the Czech Supreme Court may express its opinion on the document; however, this does not change the fact that the Czech ratification of the Lisbon Treaty continues.