Czech President's Resistance Will Not Affect the Adoption of the Lisbon Treaty

Elena Ostapenko and E.Tariverdiyeva, Trend News, 18.11.2008

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The presidency of Czech Republic in the European Union will not be able to influence the adoption of the Lisbon treaty by EU countries since January 2009, though it faces distrust by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is Euro-skeptic enough.

The agreement signed by leaders of 27 EU member-countries in Lisbon in the end of 2007 and known as the Lisbon treaty, is aimed at making EU more democratic, transparent and efficient. The biggest problem of the Lisbon Treaty is the fact that the Treaty presupposes that an unanimous decision by the European Council could transfer powers to the EU institutions

Parliaments in twenty four countries ratified the agreement, however, in Ireland, the only EU country, where similar issues are settled through referendum, 53.4% of the population voted against the document because of misunderstanding of the international document. So, Ireland hindered the EU reforming process, as under the EU rules, the document is ratified with approval of all member-countries.

Klaus during his recent visit to Ireland voiced a support to those who carried out a campaign against the ratification of the Lisbon treaty.

Klaus said that the Lisbon Treaty will not provide the reinforcement of freedom and democracy in EU, and caused a negative reaction of Ireland Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, and in response to the words of the minister about irrelevance of such statements, called him dissembler.

The fate of the Treaty is in the hands of German and Czech Constitutional Courts and Parliaments, respectively. Experts on European policy consider that the position of the Czech President will not have a decisive meaning to ratify the Lisbon treaty, however may add complication to the process.

The counteraction of the Czech President, including his rough words addressed to the Irish Foreign Minister and support of the Irish opposition, will not influence the adoption of Lisbon Treaty, “as Parliament is responsible for the foreign policy in Czech Republic, but not President,” Hugo Brady, the Irish researcher in the Centre on European Reforms, said to Trend News via a telephone.

Now, the Lisbon Treaty is being considered by the Czech Constitution Court if it is compatible with the Czech Constitution. If the Court finds the Lisbon Treaty constitutional, the fate of the treaty will be defined through voting in the Parliament, which needs in 3/5 of votes.

In court will make a positive decision, the treaty, according to Director of the Civic Institute Roman Joch, will be ‘approved easily’. However, if the Court finds the Treaty unconstitutional, then the Treaty will be likely rejected by the Parliament.

“In other words, opinions of President Klaus do not matter so much,” Joch, an author of a political blog of the Czech information portal, said to Trend News via e-mail.

“The executive branch of the Czech government has to wait now, only. And so they will,” added Joch.

Experts believe that contract with Czech will not be broken off, although there will be many difficulties in this way. Brady names the process as great approaching crisis and Greek expert for EU issues Janis Emmanoulidis says that Premier Mirek Topolanek’s government will have to function actively to reach agreement.

“Claus should sign an agreement in line with the Constitutional consequences. If he does not sign an agreement, he will be in a difficult state,” believes Brady, an author of the article with the topic How a new Irish government might save Lisbon.

Upcoming Czech Republic’s six-month fulfillment of a leading role in EU should assist in ratification of the agreement by the parliament, Antonio Missiroli, a specialist for institutional reforms of EU, believes. However, he has doubts on its capability to break President Klaus’s resistance. It is easy to imagine that it was difficult for Czech Republic to lead EU within six months, while refusing to ratify the agreement,” Missiroli, the director of Studies of the European Policy Centre, told TrendNews via telephone. In definite moment this reason can assist in removal of some parliamentary members’ objections, but not the President’s, to ratify the agreement.”

Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by Czech Republic may delay and depend on decision of Ireland, Missiroli, the author of numerous publications for the EU reforms, believes.

Earlier it was assumed that if ratification of the agreement took place in accordance with the plan, then the agreement should come to power on 1 January in 2009. However it is not real, because the second referendum in Ireland will take place at least in a year.

«If Ireland agrees, Czech Republic will finally ratify the agreement,” Missiroli said.

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