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EU chief adds pressure on Czech leader to sign treaty

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-10-13

In Brussels for talks with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, European Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso has increased pressure on “Eurosceptic“ Czech President Vaclav Klaus to sign the EU's long-awaited Lisbon reform treaty.

European Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso has increased pressure on “Eurosceptic“ Czech President Vaclav Klaus to sign the EU's long-awaited Lisbon reform treaty, urging him not to place "artificial obstacles" in the way of ratification.

“It is in the interests of nobody, least of all the interests of the Czech Republic, to delay matters further," Barroso said following talks today in Brussels with visiting Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer.

The Lisbon Treaty, meant to streamline the decision-making and boost the global influence of an EU that has almost doubled in size in five years, has been ratified by the other 26 member nations, but Czech President Vaclav Klaus has maintained his refusal to sign it.

In a new twist last week, Klaus demanded an exemption from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights -- part of the treaty -- out of concern that it would allow ethnic Germans forced from his country after World War II to return and claim their property.

Czech officials have said the government was working on a solution that would accommodate Klaus’s demands without renegotiating the treaty and repeating its ratification.

EU leadership increasingly frustrated

In addition to the Czech president, the country’s Constitutional Court must sign the treaty. The Court will hold a public hearing on the matter on October 27, but there is no guarantee of a quick verdict.

Klaus’s continued delay in signing the treaty has frustrated EU leaders searching for ways to break the deadlock before their Sweden-chaired meeting in Brussels on October 29 and 30.

"Good faith and loyal cooperation are principles of European law and international law," Barroso underlined after today’s meeting, adding that the re-opening of the ratification process would be “surreal” and “absurd”.

For FRANCE 24 correspondent Kattalin Landaburu in Brussels, the “Euroscepticism” of the twice-elected but increasingly criticised Klaus is tied to the possibility that “[h]e has nothing left to lose, he has no political future in the Czech Republic.“
 

Date created : 2009-10-13

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