Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

WEB NEWS

Russian aid convoy: Mission accomplished?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Actor Orlando Jones lauches 'Bullet Bucket Challenge'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Macron Economics'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Macron-economics, the former banker turned minister

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The capital of sex, drugs, alcohol, trash and trashy tourism'

Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande puts young ex-banker in top economy post

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • American journalist held captive in Syria arrives in US

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

  • 'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says

    Read more

  • Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine

    Read more

  • American 'Islamic State fighter' killed in Syria

    Read more

  • Rebels 'shoot down' UN helicopter in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Air France pilots threaten September strike

    Read more

  • WHO seeks stricter regulation for e-cigarettes

    Read more

Europe

Poland signs Lisbon Treaty, Czechs last to hold out

Video by Carlotta Ranieri , Oliver FARRY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-10

Polish President Lech Kaczynski (photo) has ratified the EU Lisbon Treaty, leaving the Czech Republic as the only country yet to sign. The Czech president has demanded changes to the text despite mounting pressure at home and abroad.

AFP - Poland's President Lech Kaczynski signed the European Union's reforming Lisbon Treaty in a ceremony Saturday, leaving his ultra-eurosceptic Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus as the only holdout.
   
"The fact that the Irish people changed their minds meant the revival of the treaty, and there are no longer any obstacles to its ratification," Kaczynski said before inking the text.
   
"Today is a very important day in the history of Poland and the European Union," he added, as senior EU leaders looked on.
   
Among those at the ceremony were European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament speaker Jerzy Buzek, who is Polish, and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
   
The treaty aims to streamline the running of the EU, which has nearly doubled in size in the past five years as a swathe of ex-communist countries such as Poland have joined.
   
The text -- which notably creates a new full-time president and foreign minister for the EU -- has to be approved by all 27 member states in order to come into force.
   
Polish lawmakers ratified the treaty in April 2008, but the eurosceptic Kaczynski refused to complete the process in the wake of Irish voters' rejection of the text in a referendum that June.
   
Kaczynski repeatedly said that Poland did not want to block the treaty as such, but that he would wait until the Irish approved it, which they did on October 2 in a second referendum.
   
He had argued that the EU's big member states should not lay down the law for small countries like Ireland. Poland, which joined in 2004, has a population of 38 million, placing it among the bloc's heavyweights.
   
Klaus, a staunch eurosceptic who refuses to fly the EU flag at his residence, is now the last brake on ratification.
   
He has repeatedly refused to sign the treaty, and on Friday imposed a new condition, seeking an opt-out on a key element.
   
The Czech Republic, which also joined in 2004, must have "an exception," said Klaus. Otherwise, he warned, the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the treaty will make it possible "to bypass Czech courts and enforce the property claims of people expelled after World War II at the European Court of Justice."
   
Even if his condition is met rapidly, Klaus would not be able to sign the treaty at once, since the top Czech court banned him from ratification while it considers a plea from eurosceptic members of parliament that it may be  unconstitutional.
   
The verdict of the Constitutional Court is expected to take at least two weeks.

Date created : 2009-10-10

COMMENT(S)