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EU treaty decision to be postponed

Latest update : 2008-06-20

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Lisbon Treaty's failure would halt EU enlargement. EU leaders are due to postpone a decision on the treaty to mid-October.

EU leaders will postpone a decision on the future of the bloc's Lisbon Treaty, after Ireland's voters rejected it, to their next summit in mid-October, according to a draft statement Friday.
  
But the document, prepared for a European Union summit in Brussels ending later Friday, sidestepped the issue of what exactly should be done by the seven countries that have not yet ratified the text, in the face of stern Czech opposition.
  
"The European Council agreed to Ireland's suggestion to come back to this issue at its meeting of 15 October 2008 in order to consider the way forward," said the statement.
  
In it the leaders noted that while 19 EU nations have ratified the treaty, meant to streamline the way the bloc operates as it expands, they "agreed that more time was needed to analyse the situation."
  
"The ratification process continues in the other countries," said the only reference on whether to forge ahead, in a document which could yet change in what is expected to be a day of political wrangling.
  
It made no reference to the importance the leaders attach to the treaty, nor did it send a strong signal that the seven remaining countries were united in their determination to press ahead.
  
Irish voters rejected the painstakingly assembled charter in a referendum a week ago, sparking a new period of EU turmoil as all 27 countries have to endorse the document for it to come into effect.
  
The leaders, at a two-day summit in Brussels, had been waiting for Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to give them some indication of how he thought the problem could be handled, but he asked for more time to devise a strategy.
  
However the Czech Republic posed a new obstacle -- President Vaclav Klaus had already said last week that the Lisbon Treaty was dead, after more than 53 percent of Irish voters rejected it.
  
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, after a working dinner Thursday dedicated to the problem, noted that the leaders had met "particular difficulty" with the Czechs.
  
"The Czech prime minister raised the issue of euroscepticism in his country. We are discussing a final communique with him, all of us are well aware that we must get around the 'no' in Ireland," he said.
  
Klaus is a well-known eurosceptic, and Prague's parliamentary ratification of the treaty was suspended in April after the Senate demanded a ruling from the country's constitutional court, which is still pending.
  
The leaders had wanted to prove that the EU is not heading toward another period of stasis like the two-year political limbo that followed the rejection of a draft constitution by French and Dutch voters three years ago.
  
But in more neutral language, the leaders "underlined the importance in the meantime of continuing to deliver concrete results in the various policy areas of concern to the citizens," the draft statement said.

Date created : 2008-06-20

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