Premier Spidla ready to replace the current EU commissioner Pavel Telicka

Vladimir Spidla, photo: CTK

It looks as though the outgoing Czech Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, could be about to find himself a new job. His successor at the helm of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, has proposed that he replace the Czech Republic's current EU commissioner, career diplomat, Pavel Telicka. Mr Spidla himself has said that he would be willing to take up the post. He is known and respected on the international political scene, but is not as experienced in the EU affairs as Mr Telicka, who has spent most of the last decade in Brussels. Vladimir Spidla speaks good French, some German, which would certainly be a boost, but could his lack of English prove a drawback in Brussels? Ivo Slosarcik from the European Policy Institute in Prague:

Vladimir Spidla,  photo: CTK
"There are no formal requirements on language skills of each commissioner, nor requirements on English knowledge, but of course English is essential. However, French is important as well and it is used in many negotiations within the Commission. Also, I believe that Mr Spidla will be under a strong pressure to improve his English, so I think he will be able to catch up."

The former Czech environment minister Milos Kuzvart was designated as EU commissioner in the past but shortly after resigned probably also due to his imperfect English. Can you compare these two cases?

"I think there are incomparable. The nomination of Mr Kuzvart and his resignation from the post were made in an extreme hurry, for this very short transition period, and of course one of the reasons why Mr Kuzvart did not follow his nomination, was the fact that he was afraid of the scenario, which is now, that the commissioner nominated for these few months, might not be renominated while loosing his mandate in the Czech Parliament. This is not the scenario for Mr Spidla. He is not likely to follow so much his position in Czech domestic politics and Czech domestic parliament."

Premier Spidla is probably not the only state politician, who after being forced to resign, is sent to Brussels. What do you think about the Commission as a sort of dump of politicians, who did not succeed on national level?

"Well this is the label which the Commission sometimes has, that it is a place for sometimes retired politicians, who did not succeed too much on domestic level. This image is changing now. You can see that people who were very successful in domestic politics are nominated and appointed to the Commission, like the future president of the Commission, and then the members of the European Commission are returning to domestic politics to high posts. You can just imagine and realise that very strong and very influential commissioner Mr Barnier is now the foreign minister of the French Republic. So this image of the European Commission is definitely changing and a post in the European Commission is becoming more and more important, and definitely is not perceived as a second class political position."