Euro-critical President 'welcomed' with chorus of boos

19 February 2009

Euro-critical President 'welcomed' with chorus of boos

President Klaus of the Czech Republic was this morning booed and jeered by Euro-MPs from the European Parliament's three biggest political groups. Following their display of yelling and shouting, many of them walked out of the Brussels hemicycle. Their problem? Vaclav Klaus's opinions on how to bring about a better Europe differed from theirs.


President Klaus's reception in the European Parliament began with a show: first we had the 'European anthem', then a hymn of praise from the German Christian Democrat Hans-Gert Pöttering, Chair of the European Parliament, on the blessings of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty.

A different view

After that Klaus was allowed to speak. He began by defending himself against the assertion that he wanted the Czech Republic to break away from the European Union. But he also stated that he did indeed have a different view of the EU. 'Think, as a parliament, whether each decision that you take could not better be taken closer to the people – in their own country. Realise, too, that in a democracy alternatives always exist, such as alternatives to the current model of the European Union." Klaus's view of the rejected European Constitution, as well as the Lisbon Treaty which so strongly resembles it, was negative.

Chorus of boos

During his speech a minority applauded while the majority began a chorus of boos. Then ever more members from the major political groups – the conservatives, social democrats and liberals – left the hemicycle. Pöttering distanced himself openly from Klaus's stated views and stressed that the Czech President had himself asked to address the Parliament's plenary. "There is freedom of expression of opinion and in every family there are differences of opinion," he said.

The how, what and why of the EU

SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer was one of the minority of MEPs who applauded President Klaus's speech. "He said, for me, exactly how things are. It's not a matter, when all's said and done, of whether you are for or against the EU. It's rather about the how, what and why of this EU. I find it excellent that this has now for once been stated openly and boldly. I say this despite the fact that on other matters Klaus's opinions differ enormously from those of the SP. For example, he complained that the EU suppresses the free working of the market, which is decidedly not how our party sees things."

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