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Sarkozy throws gauntlet to Poland over EU treaty

Latest update : 2008-07-05

Following Polish President Kaczynski's threat that he would not ratify the Lisbon Treaty, French President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday urged his Polish counterpart to ratify the treaty.

View our special report on The French presidency of the European Union.


Read about France's priorities for the European Union



French President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday urged his Polish counterpart to ratify the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, despite Ireland's rejection, as France seeks to resolve the first crisis of its EU presidency.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski earlier this week said he would not ratify the EU reform treaty unless Ireland approved it in a new referendum.

"President Kaczynski is an honest man and a head of state: he signed (the treaty) in Brussels, he must ratify it in Warsaw, it's a moral question," said Sarkozy, referring to the bloc's long negotiations in Brussels that led to the signing of the treaty's text in December.

Sarkozy made his comments at a meeting of his UMP party near Paris at which the French leader will set out his priorities for France's six-month EU presidency, which began on Tuesday.

The bloc's reform treaty agreed to in Lisbon in December is designed to streamline EU decision-making in an organisation that has expanded from 15 to 27 members since 2004. It must be ratified by all member states.

However, in a June 12 referendum Irish voters rejected the treaty and now the bloc and the Dublin government must decide what to do next.

The heads of both the European commission and parliament also attended the UMP gathering on Saturday and called for EU member states to complete the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty.

"We must make a collective effort to finish the process of ratification," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. "Once the process is completed, we can talk with our Irish friends."

Hans-Gert Pottering, president of the European Parliament, told the meeting that the bloc must respect the states that have already ratified the treaty, adding that without the treaty, "it will not be possible to allow new members to join the EU."

The crisis over the bloc's treaty threatens to overshadow France's EU presidency for the rest of the year, pushing other priorities aside, unless a solution is found soon.

Sarkozy spoke by phone with the Polish president on Friday and Kaczynski said Poland "would not be an obstacle to ratifying the treaty," the French president's office said.

Both the upper and lower houses of the Polish parliament ratified the treaty in April, but it also needs the president's approval to take effect.

There is also strong resistance in the Czech Republic, where eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus is lobbying hard for parliament to scupper ratification.

At the moment, Prague's ratification process is blocked while the Constitutional Court determines whether Lisbon conforms to the Czech constitution.


Date created : 2008-07-05