Saturday 27 December 2008

The Czech EU-Council Presidency (3): The Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus is not the country

In a rather long article titled "The legend of the Eurosceptics" ("Die Legende von den Euroskeptikern"), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major German quality newspaper, covers the alleged Euroscepticism of the Czech EU-Council Presidency that will take over the responsibilities from France in January 2009.

What the author Karl-Peter Schwarz is trying to prove is that Václav Klaus might be a Eurosceptic, as many report (e.g. here, here, here) but that this does not reflect the position of the Czech Republic as whole.

After citing opinion polls which confirm that Czech are even more positive towards the European Union, he remarks:
Indeed, quite frequently the declarations of Václav Klaus are distorted beyond recognition, just to be able to condemn them as populist and nationalist. But it remains without questions that he is an expressed opponent to a continued European integration. The debate on the goal and end of the European Union he wants to start is just an issue of minorities, also within the Czech Republic. And there is not much reason to conclude "pars pro toto" from the President to the "Czechs", their parliament or their government. However, it would also be wrong to neglect that the popularity of the Czech president consists in him being a trustworthy representative of the national interests [of the Czech Republic].
(own translation)
So if there is a divide between the popular opinion and the presidential declarations, a difference in the positions of the president and the government, we might face a situation in which unclear priorities within the Czech presidency might prevent the Union from moving on. This will not bring forward the Union, it will slow down politics and policy developments. In this sense, the Euroscepticism of Václav Klaus will be a problem for all of us, no matter how europhile "the Czechs" are.

I don't have a problem with debates on the future of the European Union, I am in favour of criticising undesirable developments (i.e. "eurocratism", "eurospeakism", "CAPism"), but I prefer to hear them from Europhiles than from hidden or even overt nationalists. But I am afraid we might get the latter rather than the first - and that the legend of the Eurosceptics will become a true story...