Treaty's Approval

Czech Senate approves EU's Lisbon Treaty

Lawmakers in the Czech Republic have endorsed the European Union's Lisbon Treaty. The government in Prague was the last to begin the process of ratifying the treaty, which will overhaul the way the EU does business.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the rotating six-month EU presidency until the end of June, had urged the Czech Senate prior to the vote to approve the treaty, which is designed to streamline EU decision-making in the wake of the bloc's enlargement to 27 members.

The old Nice Treaty, the legal basis on which the European Union currently operates, has proved to be far too cumbersome to deal with the needs of a bloc with more than 400 million inhabitants.

The treaty needed a three-fifths majority of all senators present and made it through the upper house of the Czech parliament by a 54-20 vote. The lower chamber of parliament approved the document in mid-February.

One step closer to ratification

"This is an important day for the Czech Republic, for its position and influence in the EU and the world," said deputy prime minister for European affairs, Alexandr Vondra after the outcome of the vote was announced.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he saw "very good prospects" for another Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty now that the Czech Senate had approved the reform document.

The Lisbon Treaty has been stalled due to the strong opposition in the Czech Republic and even stronger opposition in Ireland, where two plebiscites to approve the treaty have been rejected by Irish voters.

To become EU law, the treaty must be approved by all member states.

Lisbon Treaty still faces major hurdles

The ratification process in Prague, however, requires the signature of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is a declared opponent of the treaty. Immediately after the vote, he said he would not sign the accord, due to its rejection by Irish voters last year and an expected court challenge.

Even Topolanek's own party, the ODS, is divided over the text. ODS senator Jiri Oberfalzer, who has vowed to challenge the treaty in court, described the Lisbon accord as a "dead document" and a "conspiracy of political elites."

Topolanek lobbied hard for the accord, telling Czech senators before the vote that failure to approve the treaty "would strengthen the tendency to split the EU between its older, western members and eastern European newcomers."

Conjuring up old fears of a once totalitarian Soviet empire, Topolanek warned that "all countries east of Germany and Austria would face the risk of weaker ties with the West, and Russia's embrace."

(Published by Deutsch Welle- April 15, 2010)

latest top stories

subscribe |  contact us |  sponsors |  migalhas in portuguese |  migalhas latinoamérica