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EU President Calls US Economic Plans a 'Road to Hell'

The European Union's Czech presidency sharply criticized Washington's efforts to combat the financial crisis a week before world economic powers are meeting to discuss the issue in London. The remarks come amid worries a separate political crisis in the Czech Republic may undermine its EU leadership.

The criticism of the Obama administration's economic-stimulus plan came from Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek who said the U.S. spending measures, including bank bailouts, would undermine the stability of the global financial market. He called U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession "a road to hell."

Mr. Topolanek spoke at the European parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, just a week before leaders of the G20 group of top economies meet in London to discuss ways to tackle the global crisis.

Europe and the United States have been at odds over ways to deal with the economic downturn, with Washington pushing the 27-nation European Union to spend more to fight it. But Mr. Topolanek's criticism is particularly sharp, and it has added weight since the Czech Republic is the EU president until the end of June.

Meanwhile, Mr. Topolanek's government faces an uncertain future after it lost a no-confidence vote Tuesday. Mr. Topolanek says he will offer to resign. But he told European lawmakers Czech domestic politics would not affect its EU presidency.

"The sad fact is that the opposition Social Democrats undermined the presidency, but I hope that the presidency will be complete successfully," said Topolanek.

The head of the bloc's executive arm, European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, also expressed confidence the Czech presidency would be successful. But he warned Czech politicians not to let their internal divisions undermine efforts to reform the European Union through a key document known as the Lisbon treaty.

"I would like to urge all political leaders not to use this political crisis in a way to put the Lisbon Treaty as a hostage of domestic problems," he said. "This would not be fair to other countries in Europe. Any suggestions to change [the treaty], not to respect the treaty is of course unacceptable."

The Czech Republic is among the few EU countries that has yet to ratify the treaty. Czech lawmakers have postponed voting on the treaty several times, and the Czech president, who holds a largely ceremonial role, adamantly opposes it.