Czech Republic Enters the Year Presiding over the EU

Nobody described the challenges ahead than Radio Netherlands:

International news - Radio Netherlands Worldwide - English

The Czech Republic has taken over the presidency of the European Union from France today. Paris handed over a number of difficult issues to Prague including the economic crisis, the recently signed climate agreement and the latest violence between Israel and Hamas. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will travel to the Middle East to mediate between the two sides in the next few days.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus is a well-known euro-skeptic, but real power lies with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The Czech Republic is one of the three EU member states that has not yet ratified the Treaty of Lisbon reforming the Union. Belgium and Ireland are the other two. Sweden will take over the EU presidency on 1 July.