Press Advisories

10. 3. 2009 9:20

Hans-Gert Pöttering: Keep up the good work!

What does the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, write about the Czech Presidency? Read it here.

On 1 January this year the Czech Republic took over from France the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council. The Czech Republic is the second among the Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and first among the four "Visegrad" countries to take over that responsibility.

It has to be clearly stated that the Presidency was given no “honeymoon” period. From the very outset it had to concentrate all efforts on the two G’s (Gas and Gaza) as Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has described it in the European Parliament when he was presenting the priorities to the members. These issues and particularly now the “E” (from the same speech), for Economy, will dominate the Presidency throughout.

One the last issue the European Parliament appreciates strongly that the Czech Presidency is a staunch defender of the principles of the single market, against any temptations of protectionism. It is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration project and in itself a force for growth and our prosperity. I welcome the leadership Prime Minister Topolanek has taken on the issue, among others by calling an informal EU Summit on this matter last Sunday. The undisputed message of that meeting is that protectionism is no answer to any of the economic and financial problems the European Union, and the entire world, are facing. The single market continues to be one of our main tools in overcoming these serious difficulties.

The European Parliament is a strong supporter of the Lisbon Treaty. We consider it necessary to equip the European Union to effectively face the challenges of the XXI century and to end a nearly decade long discussion on institutional matters. Therefore we welcome the decision of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, which has approved the Treaty. This vote underscores the willingness of the Presidency to contribute to the success of the new Treaty and brings us forward to concluding the ratification in the Czech Republic.

This coming June the seventh direct elections to the European Parliament will take place. In Parliament we look forward to work closely with the Presidency, all Member States and other European institutions to promote the tangible results of decisions undertaken on the European level for citizens, of which the EP is an even more important contributor. Achieving a good voter participation in these elections is in the vital interest of all European partners and the citizens themselves. Only a strong and effective European Union can defend our values and interests around the world, particularly in these turbulent times.

If someone would have told me in 1979, when I was first elected to the European Parliament, that in less than thirty years I would sit next to colleagues from the Czech Republic as well as from nine other central European and former communist countries, I would have considered this a beautiful dream, but one that I would not have believed to become true during my political life. 1 May 2004 proved that I would have been wrong. The eastern enlargement of the European Union is the miracle of our time. Today we are one European family of nearly 500 million citizens united in diversity by our common values. Together we defend the principles of the European integration project, which was so clearly displayed during last Sunday’s informal EU Summit.

The length of one’s membership in the European Union is not a prerequisite for a successful Presidency. Mirek Topolanek and his team have shown great skill in steering our common European ship through stormy waters. Therefore I wish him every success for the remaining three months.

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By Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, for the Czech presidency bulletin

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