Extraordinary story from Danish MEP Hanne Dahl. On a recent trip to Prague with a delegation from the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee, ahead of the Czechs taking over the EU Presidency in January 2009, Dahl got to experience the more unpleasant side of the Lisbon Treaty fanatics. Hanne explains:
Naively I thought that it would be a courtesy visit. But no! I was really mistaken. The underlying agenda of my co-travellers turned out to be to try to threaten/scare/demean the Czech Republic into ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, before taking over the presidency. Now I also thought that one would follow certain rules for polite behaviour, while travelling as a representative of the EU. I was convinced that people would see themselves as some sort of diplomatic envoys, and thereby constrain themselves somewhat. I assumed so much, but I got wiser.She goes on:
During the meeting with representatives from the Czech Parliament a Liberal British MEP started out by saying that he did not think that the Czech Republic could take over the presidency, if they had not ratified the Treaty...I thought it was quite rude that an MEP seemed to consider himself qualified to criticize a legitimate democratic process as a problem, and at the same time challenge the fundamental principle that all EU countries are equal. Who does he think that he is?As we have noted before, the Czech ratification process is becoming increaingly more uncomfortable for the EU establishment.
Anyway, Hanne goes on. Having moved on to the Senate, the rather obnoxious delegation ran in to some resistence, as the Senate's European Affairs Committee began to to bite back. Dahl herself also joined the debate, and gave a speech highlighting six points which are central in the debate on the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic, including the impact of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. She also noted, quite rightly, that the Czechs should be "proud to have such a self-conscious democracy".
This proved too much to bear for some of the delgates. Hanne describes:
This triggered a rage from the German conservative (EPP-ED) Elmar Brok. Not only could he not constrain himself from coming with outbursts during my speech – he also followed me around shouting terms of abuse at me, while we were supposed to have a tour of the castle. I politely but firmly said that he had by far crossed the line and ought to constrain himself.How charming. And what a way to convince people of the benefits of the Lisbon Treaty.
And while all of this happened I had reporter on the phone, who wanted to speak to me about this week’s huge victory in the protection of groundwater.
Try to picture this: A snorting, sweating and shouting German following a very pregnant woman around the Senate in Prague during an official visit. It was so embarrassing! Well not to me, but for the EU that thought that it had to lecture the Czech Republic on them not having the strength or the dignity to take over the presidency. Yes some even said that it would be best if they would just leave the presidency to the French for another term. They even threatened that it was just this kind of problems from a small country that could lead to the abolishing of the rotating presidency and the introduction of a permanent presidency, consisting of the six largest countries. I think it was a German who said it.