Topolanek calls Emergency EU Summit over Economic Crisis
Brussels, February 11, 2009  Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek called for an informal emergency summit, which will take place in Brussels on March 1, 2009.

The goal of this meeting of heads of state and government will be to examine steps taken up to now within the recovery plan and the efficiency of these steps further accented by  the latest protectionism initiatives of some EU Countries. Topolanek  expressed hope the meeting will resolve differences between countries seeking to protect domestic industries and jobs and those willing to maintain free eurozone spirit. The prime minister's comments appear aimed at French President Nicolas Sarkozy who declared this week in a TV interview that it is unjustifiable that French car brands made abroad, for instance in the Czech Republic, should be sold in France, indirectly alluding to the French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen which has a plant in the Czech Republic. Sarkozy also said it is necessary to prevent the relocation of factories abroad to save jobs in France and that the French plants in other countries should move back to France if possible. Consequently he announced an $8 billion aid package for French carmakers in return for keeping jobs and factories in France. Czech Industry Minister Martin Riman pointed out that the PSA Peugeot Citroen is a private firm that makes decision independently and it would not accept Sarkozy's appeal. Czech Deputy PM for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra warned against the threat of more extensive protectionism in Europe but the French ministers insist the subsidies are not protectionist, but rather measures aimed at defending French industries and jobs during a time of crisis. Topolanek is afraid Sarkozy´s statement threatens ratification of the Lisbon treaty. Czech Parliament should continue the ratification process of the Lisbon treaty on February 17. Czech Republic, actually holding rotating EU Presidency, is paradoxically the only EU member state that has not yet decided on the Lisbon treaty to reform the EU institutions. Twenty-five EU countries have already ratified the treaty in parliament. Ireland rejected it in a referendum last June. However, the Irish referendum may be repeated this year.


EU Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said the informal meeting would allow "a preparatory exchange of views" to pave the way for regular economic EU Summit which will take place in Prague, on March 19-20.