Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a fierce euro-sceptic, has said his country's parliament must ratify the guarantees the European Union is to offer Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty this week, or he would not approve them.
AFP - Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Wednesday his country's parliament must ratify the guarantees the EU is to give Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty this week, or he would not approve them.
Klaus, a fierce opponent of the treaty to reshape the management of the European Union, said in a letter to Prime Minister Jan Fischer published on his website that the guarantees were a separate pact which required parliamentary ratification under the Czech constitution.
"Any conclusion in another form would contradict Article 49 of the constitution and I could not accept such a proceeding," Klaus said.
However the letter published on the website www.klaus.cz was promptly rejected by Fischer on the government site www.vlada.cz, saying the EU document was a treaty neither in form nor substance.
It "is not an international treaty of a political nature in the meaning of Article 19b of the constitution but an international treaty of a governmental type which does not require the powers of the head of state to be concluded," Fischer said.
The legally binding guarantees which Dublin has demanded cover key issues such as ensuring the EU could not impose abortion laws in Ireland or influence its military neutrality.
It is hoped they will persuade Irish voters who rejected the Lisbon Treaty last year to back it in a second referendum in the autumn, as opinion polls suggest they will.
The draft text to come before the EU summit on Thursday and Friday takes the form of a legally binding EU "decision," which would avoid the need for ratification in the other member states.
Dublin hopes that the guarantees will be tacked on to a future treaty, but this would require full ratification by all 27 EU nations, some of which, Britain in particular, have no desire to reopen the treaty debate back home.
Czech lawmakers cleared the treaty in May after months of delays caused by a constitutional complaint and several postponements in parliament.
But Klaus is holding off on signing it into law, saying last month he would wait until senators file another appeal to the Constitutional Court and then for the final verdict.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels Wednesday, Klaus played down the dispute, saying, "we just have a constitutional debate which is a domestic issue."
The Brussels summit marks the end of Prague's six-month tenure of the EU's rotating presidency.
Date created : 2009-06-17