Person of Interest

The E.U.'s Embarrassment

Nicolas Sarkozy, who is about to rotate out of the European Union's presidency, has a reputation for being a little bit daft. Now meet his successor, Czech President Vaclav Klaus. British historian Timothy Garton Ash has called Klaus "one of the rudest men I have ever met." Klaus has called global warming a "myth" and Al Gore an "apostle of arrogance." He blames the world financial crisis on too much, not too little, regulation; is close with Vladimir Putin; and has frequently lambasted the organization he will now head. "Oh God, Vaclav Klaus will come next," read a headline in a recent Austrian paper. "There is palpable fear that Mr. Klaus will embarrass the world's biggest trading bloc and complicate its efforts to address the economic crisis and expand its powers," writes The New York Times. Good news: The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial position, and this fact is expected to limit Klaus's power in the E.U.