Court rules Lisbon Treaty constitutional, clears the way for ratification
The Czech Republic's top court has ruled that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty is in line with the Czech constitution, paving the way for the reform treaty's ratification.
The Czech constitutional court ruled on Tuesday that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty does not “as a whole” conflict with the Czech constitution, removing the last hurdle to its ratification.
"The Lisbon Treaty... as a whole... does not run counter to the Czech constitution," said the constitutional court chairman, Pavel Rychetsky, in a televised hearing.
The Czech Republic is the only EU nation that has not yet ratified the treaty, which must be signed by all 27 member nations to come into effect. The treaty’s reforms are aimed at streamlining EU decision-making to expedite the bloc’s functioning in foreign affairs.
The constitutional court’s ruling paves the way for President Vaclav Klaus, a noted eurosceptic, to sign the treaty, the last formal step needed to finalise its approval in the Czech Republic.
Klaus is expected to sign the charter in the coming weeks to allow the treaty to enter into force in January, if not sooner. Citing a statement by a spokesperson for the current Swedish head of the six-month rotating EU presidency, FRANCE 24 correspondent Ian Willoughby said that if Klaus signs by the end of November, the treaty could come into force as soon as December 1.
Czech law barred Klaus from signing onto the pact until the constitutional court had ruled on a complaint filed in the upper house of parliament that maintained ratification of the treaty would threaten Czech national sovereignty.
Klaus has criticised the Lisbon Treaty for giving the EU too much power over its members and insisted on Brussels giving the Czechs an opt-out clause from the treaty’s rights charter, which it granted last week.
With the final ratification of Lisbon now looking set to move forward quickly, attention is likely to shift to getting all 27 members to agree on who to appoint as the EU’s first permanent president.
“EU leaders will no doubt be hoping that the Czech president signs as soon as possible so that they can deal with some important business, like choosing a new European Commission and, of course, the EU’s first president,” Willoughby said, reporting from Prague.
EU leaders failed to agree on who should take the helm at a summit last week in Brussels. Among the candidates for Europe’s top spot are former British prime minister Tony Blair, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen and Luxembourg’s current prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker.