The Road Now for EU's Lisbon Treaty

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/04/2009 11:51:00 AM
Subject the Irish to referenda until they say "yes" to the EU's Lisbon Treaty appears to be a strategy that has worked. No, this Europhile won't need to contemplate kicking Ireland out of the EU anymore. However, this does not mean that the road to implementing Lisbon is smooth sailing here on in. Ireland was the only country in the EU to subject Lisbon to a referendum. However, both Poland and the Czech Republic have not yet signed on to it. Earlier in the week, the ruling Conservative party of the Czech Republic threw a spanner in the works by challenging the constitutionality of Lisbon. Euroskeptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus has unsurprisingly indicated that he will not sign on to Lisbon until this matter is sorted out. From the Irish Times:
A group of Czech senators has lodged a new constitutional court challenge against the Lisbon Treaty, alleging that it turns the EU into a “super state”. Part of the appeal rests on a claim that the guarantees on the treaty given to Ireland by EU leaders should have been ratified by the Czech parliament. The senators hope the appeal will delay ratification until a Conservative government can win power in Britain and kill the treaty.

Senator Jiri Oberfalzer, a close ally of Eurosceptic Czech president Vaclav Klaus who helped prepare the court challenge, said that the constitutional court should state whether the EU would still be an international organisation or if Lisbon creates a new EU “super state”.

The appeal asks the court to examine whether the treaty as a whole is compatible with the Czech constitution. It also challenges the legality of the guarantees provided by EU leaders to Ireland.

“The senators claim the Irish guarantees are an international treaty which would need the consent of both chambers of the Czech parliament,” Tomas Langasek, general secretary of the court, told The Irish Times yesterday.
The wish of Czech Euroskeptics is that Lisbon fails to come into effect by the time general elections are called back here in Blighty in June 2010 at the latest, where those other Conservatives have vowed to call for a UK referendum on Lisbon. Knowing how thoroughly entrenched anti-EU discourse is in the press--think Rupert Murdoch--I am fairly certain that a protracted Czech signing process that allows the Tories to assume power will result in a dead treaty. From the FT:
For the EU's other 26 governments, the danger is that the court will spend so much time preparing its opinion that the Czech Republic will not have approved the treaty by the UK's next general election, due by June 2010...The opposition Conservative party, far ahead in British opinion polls, has given notice that, if it wins the election and Lisbon is still not in operation, it will call a referendum on the treaty with the intention of securing a No result...

Some EU officials hope that, if the Irish result is an emphatic Yes, Mr Klaus may surprise everyone with a prompt announcement that he will sign the treaty after all. There has even been talk in Brussels of a special ceremony bringing together Mr Klaus and Lech Kaczynski, the Polish president, who has also delayed signing the charter - al-though he says he will do so if Irish voters approve it.

Such a turn of events looks less likely in the light of the Czech senators' challenge. However, if it materialised it would enable -Sweden, which holds the EU's presidency, to use a summit in late October to anoint the EU's first permanent president and new head of foreign policy - two powerful jobs foreseen under Lisbon.
It is hoped that the overwhelming Irish result will compel the Czech Republic and Poland to sign shortly. Both doing so before month's end will allow current rotating EC head Sweden to ask member countries to choose the first EU president. Blair, anyone? Such talk may be premature. There are no fixed time schedules here, unfortunately.

UPDATE: EC Commission President Barroso, EU rotating head Sweden, and the other Czech parties are urging Klaus to sign the Treaty and be done with it. Former Czech PM Mirek Topolanek of America's-on-the-road-to-hell fame further argues that the US declining to establish a security blanket against Russia means it also needs to cotton up to the EU. Meanwhile, Polish President Lech "Not Related to Ted" Kaczynski indicates that he will sign on next week according to Dow Jones:
A wide spectrum of Czech and European politicians over the weekend put pressure on Czech President Vaclav Klaus to finally sign the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, approved by Irish voters in a public referendum Friday, to enable the charter to come into effect as envisaged in January.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and E.U. President and Swedish Prime Minster Fredrik Reinfeldt joined a rare, uniform alliance of right- and left-leaning Czech politicians in urging Klaus to quit grandstanding and put his signature to the Treaty...

The Treaty gives greater power to Europe's more populous countries, namely Germany [via changes in qualified majority voting], but there are more risks from not implementing the Treaty, according to ODS chairman Mirek Topolanek. I believe it'll be brought to a close," he said, adding that there are fears that not approving Lisbon would put the Czech Republic on the periphery of European politics and decision-making.

Topolanek said he has fears of Russia's geopolitical and economic intentions, the bloc's energy security, and that now with the U.S. having cancelled the planned U.S. bases in central Europe, the Czech Republic, Poland and their neighbors are more exposed than ever to becoming sidelined and falling under the geopolitical influence of Russia.
10/10 UPDATE: As expected, (Euroskeptic?) Polish President Lech Kaczynski has immediately signed on to the Lisbon Treaty, leaving Czech President Vaclav Klaus as the last leader in the EU to do so [1, 2]. All I can say is the backlash against Klaus and, by extension, the Czech Republic would be tremendous in the EU if he waylays proceedings even more.