Interviews - Online

Post your questions for Přemysl Sobotka

Přemysl Sobotka, President of the Senate, will answer your questions online in the European chat on Tuesday at 10 a.m. You can start posting your questions concerning cooperation of National Parliaments and Relations between National Parliaments and the European Parliamentseveral hours in advance. After the chat is closed, the most interesting questions and answers from both language versions will be published in the ’News and Documents’ section on . The chat is conducted simultaneously in two language versions – in Czech for the local public and in English for readers abroad. Czech and English questions appear only in their respective language versions. To read all the questions, open both chat versions.

Questions and Answers

Peter, 24. 2. 2009, 9:14
Hello, how do you personally view the first two months of the Czech Presidency? I think especially French media are quite critical of Czech activities. Do you think that the Czech Republic is really in charge of Europe and that it can really influence European politics?
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:37
The beginning of the year was marked by two big problems such as gas supplies and the war conflict in Gaza and Czech politicians helped to deal with these issues and also resolve the problem with gas. Current negotiations about the beginning economic crisis show again that Czech politicians are very active and are good co-ordinators too. Obviously, big countries might have the feeling that they know everything best and they have been surprised by the positive role played by the Czech Republic. That is why they say such things in their media. I would like to thank all people who sent their inquiries whether they come from the Czech Republic or abroad. I would like to stress that the EU is not only about the Lisbon Treaty but also about the solidarity in dealing with current and future issues. Have a very nice day.
Simone Favela, 24. 2. 2009, 9:20
Dear President Sobotka, I really wonder what's the relationship between national parliaments and the European Parliament. How about your Parliament/Senate and the EP? Is it a relationship of cooperation, rivalry, dislike? I've heard that your party (ODS) is quite critical of increasing European centralization, while the European Parliament likes to have as much power as possible - so how can you cooperate? Thank you and have a nice day :-)
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:36
The Czech Senate as the upper chamber of our parliament has been dealing with European legal regulations very intensively and we have the highest success rate in the fulfillment of our requirements. The European Parliament obviously tries to gain further powers but sometimes I find some Brussels conclusions distant from reality and in such instances it is the national parliaments that must intervene in order to rectify such things. The Lisbon Treaty provides the opportunity for national parliaments, if they agree in one third, to send the regulations back for re-negotiation, and if one half of the national parliaments agree, it is possible to veto the relevant regulation.
M. Stefanidis, 24. 2. 2009, 9:08
Dear Mr Sobotka, as the President of the Czech Senate what do you think about the way President Klaus's speech was received in the European Parliament (booing, MPs leaving the room)? Do you think this was acceptable behaviour? What would you do if you presided over such a meeting? Can MPs be somehow controlled by the chairperson so that they would not behave in such a way?
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:24
I followed the whole speech by President Klaus and I also noticed some significant applause. The response by MEPs were somewhat extreme but this is also a part of parliamentary democracy. There is no point in viewing any different opinion about the EU as an attack against the substance of the EU. The future of the EU will be good if multiple opinions and voices can be heard. The chair of any parliamentary meeting can only invite the audience to be quiet and that is all.
Vincent Meunier, 24. 2. 2009, 9:00
Hello Mr Sobotka, I have read that in Czech politics ODS senators are most opposed to the passing of the Lisbon treaty. As far as I know, the Czech Republic is the only member country whose Parliament has not yet approved the treaty. If your senators are so much concerned about the negative aspects of the treaty, why did they not start some cooperation with other national parliaments sooner in order to stop the treaty? I think this would be the perfect opportunity for coordinated cooperation of national parliaments. Why didn't Czech senators raise their voices at the time when other national parliaments approved the treaty? Why are they active only now, when the majority of member countries decided to go forward with the treaty? Would you agree that this could be viewed as your failure as the Senate's President that the Czech senators did not initiate a thorough international debate many months ago? Thank you for your answer.
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:19
The debate in the Senate about the Lisbon Treaty has lasted for more than a year now and has resulted in an inquiry to the Constitutional Court whether the Treaty is in accordance with the Czech Constitution. As the President of the Senate I can only influence individual senators politically and I have no possibility to give them any orders. We have had that discussion at the level of national Parliaments for more than a year now, unofficially many people reproach many things to the Lisbon Treaty but publicly they do not say so, which from my point of view is a pity.
B. Apfelbaum, 24. 2. 2009, 8:40
Dear Mr Sobotka, I suppose that as the President of the Czech Senate you believe that it is useful to have a parliamentary upper chamber. Do you think that it would be useful to have a bicameral European Parliament? To have a European House of Representatives and a European Senate? Would it not be a useful safeguard against mistakes of the European Parliament as we have it today? Thank you.
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:12
This is an interesting topic. If you follow the discussions of presidents of parliaments in Paris this week, please look at my proposal I will be presenting there. At this moment I cannot say anything more.
Damien (France), 24. 2. 2009, 8:09
President Sobotka, Relations existe between national Parliaments and the European Parliament. But cooperation between national parliaments doesn't seem to be much of a reality. Is that true? And how the Czech Republic could help in that sense (creating a european committee of parliaments representatives etc.)? Thank you
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:08
The cooperation of national parliaments is relatively very good. Just as an example, I would say that last year I organised a conference of 11 post-communist countries in the Czech Senate. We agreed very well that this group will meet for discussions concerning any problem that might arise; the problem of gas supplies was an example of a common approach vis-a-vis with the Ukrainian and Russian Parliaments. At the end of this week Presidents of national parliaments will meet in Paris and we will of course discuss cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament.
Damien, 24. 2. 2009, 8:06
President Sobotka, Do you think Czech Republic holding UE presidency will be a positive point in order to ease the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty?
responded to, 24. 2. 2009, 10:03
The Czech Presidency is not about the Lisbon Treaty but it is about the coordination of procedures. Problems with gas and the war conflict in Gaza and the current economic crisis show that the Presidency is successful. The Lisbon Treaty has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and once the requirement for the amendment to the rules of procedure is fulfilled in both chambers I assume it will be successfully approved also in the Senate. The ratification process has not yet ended in Germany, Poland and obviously in Ireland.

Discussion has ended.