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It is hard to believe but the Lisbon treaty will be in force on 1 December

It is hard to believe but Vaclav Klaus has signed the Lisbon treaty. Following the result of the second Irish referendum, Brussels has increased pressure on Czech Republic to ratify the Treaty. Nicolas Sarkozy has described the Czech president’s refusal to sign the treaty as “unacceptable” and said “It’s time for him to make a choice and his decision will not be without repercussions.” Eventually, Mr Klaus said he would sign the ratification act if the Constitutional Court accepted the treaty and Brussels accepted his request for a Czech opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Mr Klaus was concerned that the Charter of Fundamental Rights could abolish the Benes decrees on the expropriation of German property and would allow descendants of the Germans expelled from the Sudetenland at the end of the Second World War from filing legal claims for the return of their property. Consequently, he requested assurances in this regard before signing the ratification act.

On 30 October 2009, the European Council has reiterated its “determination to see the Treaty enter into force by the end of 2009” and come up with another deceitful solution to push the treaty through. In order to pave the way for the Czech ratification in a way that would not involve re-starting the ratification process for the other Member States, the European Council followed the method used for the Irish guarantees.

In order to avoid similar request from Slovakia and opposition from Hungary, the European Council has not mentioned Vaclav Klaus’s demand for an assurance that the Benes decrees would not be abolished by the Lisbon Treaty. The Czech Republic got a promise that an opt-out Protocol from the Charter of Fundamental Rights will be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union at the time of the next Accession Treaty. Protocol No 30 on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights to Poland and to the UK would be amended “in order to refer to the Czech Republic in the same terms as they refer to Poland and to the United Kingdom.” Obviously, the protocol will not be amended immediately as in that way the EU leaders could not prevent the re-ratification of the treaty.

However, no one can say that the treaty is exactly the same as ratified by UK and other Member States. The Decision in respect of the “Irish guarantees” as well as the Czech Republic’s opt out comes after the Lisbon treaty has been implemented in the UK Parliament by enactment. Member States have not agreed to the Irish guarantees during the treaty negotiations. The UK and Poland have obtained their opt-out during the treaty negotiations but not Czech Republic. The Czech opt out from the Charter entails an amendment to the Treaty. There would be therefore a new relationship between the EU and Ireland/Czech Republic and between Ireland/Czech Republic and the other Member States requiring re-ratification and new implementing legislation in each Member State. But...the the Lisbon Treaty is unstoppable now!

In the meantime, the Irish Decision and, obviously, the promise of an opt out, are not legally binding on the European Court of Justice and the other EU institutions until they are incorporated into protocols and then become part of the Community legal order. The Lisbon Treaty negotiation and ratification process has been a charade.

Last September, a group of Czech senators, mainly from ODS, lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging the conformity of the Lisbon Treaty with the Czech Republic’s Constitution. The senators argued that the Treaty will infringe Czech sovereignty by creating a supranational European state. President Klaus could not sign the treaty ratification act until the verdict of the Czech Constitutional Court. Unsurprisingly, on 3 November, the Czech constitutional court ruled that the Lisbon treaty is compatible with the country's constitution rejecting the legal complaints. Unexpectedly, a few hours after the court’s ruling, Václav Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty ratification act, he said “Once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, the Czech Republic, contrary to the political opinion of the Constitutional Court, will cease to be a sovereign state.

The Lisbon Treaty will enter into force “on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step”, i.e, on 1 December.

In the meantime, inexplicably, David Cameron has ruled out a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. It is absolutely necessary that David Cameron reconsiders such decision and commits to hold a post-ratification referendum. As Bill Cash said “We need a full referendum on Lisbon as we were promised and as we voted in the House of Commons. No ifs or buts. This is about the Government of the United Kingdom operating in line with the democratic wishes of the electorate.”

The EU leaders held preliminary talks about the new EU top positions but there was no decision on the nomination of the EU President and the EU Foreign Minister. Now, that Czech Republic ratified the treaty, the horsetrade for the EU new positions has officially started. There would be an overall transfer of more political power to the EU through the creation of a permanent President of the European Council and the High Representative on Foreign and Security policy, meaning an EU foreign affairs minister. These posts would diminish the ability of Member States to conduct their own foreign policy.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister, has already announced that he would start “consultations on the names” for the two top positions. In fact, to accelerate the process, the Swedish Presidency will convene an extraordinary summit in mid November to appoint the permanent president of the European Council and the High Representative on Foreign and Security policy as well as to decide on the composition of the new Commission.


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Bill Cash has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stone since 1997 and an MP since 1984.

He is currently the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and the founder member of the European Foundation...

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