One signature is still missing on the Lisbon Treaty, that of Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus
Chairman of the Czech constitutional court Pavel Rychetsky speaks during a hearing of the court in the city of Brno, October 27 2009.
Protesters stand near the constitutional court building in the Czech city of Brno, October 27 2009.The banner says, 'No to Lisbon Treaty'.
Judges arrive for a hearing in the Czech constitutional court in the city of Brno, October 27 2009.
The 15-member Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic is meeting in the city of Brno to debate what could be the final legal challenge against ratification of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty.
Jan Fischer, the country's prime minister, said he did not expect the court to make an immediate decision on October 27 and that a subsequent hearing would probably make the ruling. The BBC also confirmed this expectation, saying that the court had had several additional petitions in the past few days, and that some observers believed that the judges would need more than one day to decide.
The legal challenge in the Czech Constitutional Court has been brought by 17 Eurosceptic senators who say the treaty would create a superstate, and as such infringes Czech sovereignty. Before the hearing, Jiri Oberfalzer, one of the senators, said the group was not planning another complaint if the court ruled against them. "We really do not have any other complaint in our pockets," he told Czech television. We tried to exhaust every point that remained in the treaty as disputable, so we are preparing nothing else."
The Czech Republic is the only country yet to sign the Treaty which aims to streamline the way the EU is run. The Treaty must be approved by all 27 member countries before it can become law.
The court challenge is one of two hurdles to be cleared before Czech president Vaclav Klaus agrees to sign the Treaty. An avowed Eurosceptic who strongly opposes the treaty, Klaus's signature must be penned before the Treaty is ratified. He has said he will not do that unless provided with solid guarantees about property rights in the Czech Republic, a subject which will be addressed by a summit later this week in Brussels.
Led by Sweden, current holder of the rotating presidency of the EU, diplomatic efforts have been underway to secure Klaus’s signature to the Treaty which has now been approved by both houses of the Czech parliament.
Reports that Klaus had said on October 23 that the Lisbon Treaty appeared to be an inevitability, and that he had welcomed a proposal by the Swedish EU presidency to address his concerns about the treaty opening the way for ethnic Germans to claim compensation from Prague because of post-World War 2 deportations, raised hopes among those who favour the treaty.
Should the Czech constitutional court give the go-ahead for the treaty, the EU would be able to put in place the changes envisaged in it, including coming up with a new full-time president of the European Council, a new-style foreign minister for the bloc, and majority voting in the EU instead of decision-making by consensus.
However, for as long as the impasse over the Lisbon Treaty endures, formal nomination cannot take place of a new European Commission to take over from the Commission whose term of office expires at the end of October 2009.
It was widely expected that the European Council would give a temporary additional lease of life to the current European Commission.
"Only when we have legal clarity about the treaty can we decide about the new top posts in the EU," Swedish European affairs minister Cecilia Malmstrom said.
European Council approves deal with Czech president Vaclav Klaus opting out from a Lisbon Treaty provision, while Tony Blair’s prospects of the future post of European Council President are reportedly fading.
Gallup International Association poll gives president Sarkisian’s party 44 per cent, while three main challengers alleged ‘machinations’ by ruling party in what – in contrast to 2008 – reportedly was a largely peaceful election.
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