The Czech leaders have agreed on job-sharing during their six-month Presidency of the EU Council, which began on 1 January. According to the Czech national press, the prime minister will chair the European summits, while the president will be responsible for summits with third countries. But everything is not yet clear.

According to the Czech constitution, the current Prime Minister, the Liberal Mirek Topolanek, is supposed to assume the EU Presidency as it is up to him and his government to carry out and formulate the country's foreign policy. The president, moreover, has a more formal role, though he holds some extraordinary powers, such as being the only person able to sign international agreements. Therefore, the ratification bill for the Lisbon Treaty, once adopted by the two houses, will have to have to bear the final signature of the head of state.

But given the blustering and provocative character of the current President, the highly Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus, it is not surprising that he did not want to be limited to a symbolic role in his castle in Prague - on which he still refuses, furthermore, to fly the EU's blue flag with a circle of 12 yellow stars. As a result, to avoid their trademark conflicts and wrangling in Europe, the two leaders agreed on an amicable distribution of their tasks. Topolanek would be responsible for chairing the two European Councils - the EU's highest political-level meetings - which will take place in Brussels on 19-20 March and 18-19 June. He will also present the Presidency's programme before the European Parliament, on 14 January.

As for Klaus, he is expected to speak in a formal meeting before MEPs, on 19 February in Brussels. Moreover, he will chair the EU summits with third countries. These meetings generally only gather the troika (incumbent EU president, the president of the third country in question and the president of the European Commission). However, some of these could shape up to be very important in the context of the first half of 2009, such as the EU-Russia summit, the summit on the Eastern Partnership (Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), and also...

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