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After Sarkozy, a Czech takes EU helm

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an economist and self-proclaimed 'Euro-dissident,' is critical of much of the governing body's efforts.

In charge: Vaclav Klaus takes the reins of the European Union when his country assumes the rotating EU presidency on Jan 1.

vadim ghirda/ap

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He has called global warming a myth, backed Russia's recent invasion of Georgia, likened bank bailouts to socialism, and refuses to fly the European Union flag over his office in the Prague Castle.

On nearly every issue of significance, Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus is at odds with Brussels, and he seldom misses a chance to make note of this.

Now the economist's shadow will loom over the EU as never before, when France officially hands over the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-member bloc to the Czech Republic on Jan. 1. The position gives each member state a chance to set Europe's agenda and advance one or two large initiatives.

France has received mostly high marks for its turn at Europe's helm, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy credited with leading the EU's diplomacy during the Russia-Georgia war, orchestrating a European approach to bank bailouts, pushing through climate-change legislation and revising the beleaguered Lisbon Treaty, the EU's attempt at a constitution.


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