On 1 January 2009, the Czech Republic assumed the EU’s rotating presidency, becoming only the second Central and Eastern European new member state to do so, and one of the last member states to hold the presidency under the pre-Lisbon Treaty rules. The Czech EU presidency followed France’s six-month term, and the Czechs were in turn succeeded by Sweden, which assumed the EU chairmanship on 1 July. While the EU presidency encompassed a relatively short period of time (182 days), it had a significant impact on the Czech Republic’s position and reputation in the EU. It also proved to be a painful but valuable learning experience for the country and its political leadership. As such, it was an early “defining moment” of the Czech Republic’s EU membership.