Thursday, 26 June 2008

Ratification update

Stuart Wheeler has lost his High Court case to hold the goverment to its promise of a referendum. While Mr Wheeler has indicated his intention to appeal, the passage in the earlier version of this post about this legal hurdle in the path of final ratification of the treaty by Britain has been deleted.

However, further doubts are emerging that the Polish president is going to sign the treaty, with the office of the president beginning to publicly argue that the treaty is dead following the Irish No. This change is reflected in the updated summary below.

So far that leaves the treaty rejected by referendum in Ireland, its "substantially equivalent" predecessor rejected in public votes in France and Holland, and now ratification put on hold in the Czech Republic and Poland.

This effort by the EU - represented by the Lisbon Treaty / EU Constitution - to gather more power for itself at the expense of Europe's democratic governments has taken up nearly a decade of governmental wrangling and battling against public opinion that could have been much more profitably spent preparing European countries for major future challenges.

Another year of wrangling is now on the cards while the EU tries to find ways to get the treaty past the Irish people.

Enough is enough. Either the EU must now drop its 1950s superstate ambitions as a result of these multiple rejections of the Lisbon Treaty / EU Constitution project.

Or those who wish to see Europe make real progress in the face of modern challenges must start exploring new ways and new structures to achieve this beyond the malign influence of the EU's anti-democratic obsession with political integration.

It is self-evident that it is not necessary to pass ever more decision-making powers to remote central institutions for countries to co-operate together on the issues that affect us all.

So for how much longer will the EU's out-dated centralisation agenda be allowed to distract from tackling the issues that European countries really need to address to be fit for the 21st century?

Does Europe have any genuine leaders, with a vision for the future rather than a lazy adherence to ideas of the past? Now is the time for such a person to stand up.

------- Ratification: the state of play (updated) -------

Eight countries have yet to complete ratification of the Lisbon treaty through their Parliaments, with ratification in two further countries still awaiting presidential signatures.

While the treaty may have become law in the rest, it does not come into effect until all 27 EU member countries have ratified it. So here's a run-down of the hurdles the treaty has yet to clear:

Belgium: the treaty has been passed by the country's two houses of parliament and currently awaits approval in Belgium's five regional and community assemblies.

Czech Republic: currently
suspended pending a decision of the country's constitutional court on whether the treaty is in line with Czech law. President Vaclav Klaus has spoken out against continued ratification, as has the chairman of the country's senate.

Cyprus: ratification of the treaty is expected to go ahead on 3 July, according to the
Cyprus Mail. Only the Green Party has called for a postponement.

Ireland: having voted 'No' a week ago, Irish ministers and leading 'Yes' campaigners have
made it clear that due to the high turnout a re-run of the referendum will not be politically possible. Nevertheless, the country will be under considerable pressure from the EU and other member states, who are continuing to ratify the rejected treaty regardless.

Italy: the Italian government
has said that it aims to ratify the treaty by August, but there may be complications in the form of the Northern League - a major partner in Silvio Berlusconi's new coalition government. The party says that it intends to present a Bill demanding a referendum, calling the treaty "a serious abandon of sovereignty". However, Berlusconi's party has a significant majority together with its other coalition partner, so a referendum Bill is not expected to succeed.

Netherlands: the Dutch government seems ready to treat Ireland differently to the response they received after their 2005 rejection of the Lisbon Treaty's predecessor - the EU Constitution. Having
been approved by the country's parliament earlier this month, despite the presentation of a 42,000-signature petition demanding a second referendum, the treaty is now being considered by the Dutch senate. This is considered a formality and due to be completed over the summer.

Spain: ratification has been held up by a change of government but is likely to be completed, possibly before the end of June. The Spanish government
support continued ratification.

Reuters report that ratification of the treaty is to continue as planned despite Ireland's 'No' vote. This is according to a statement by the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, writing on his blog last Friday. The Swedish parliament will vote on ratification this autumn, and it is expected to receive majority support.

Two further countries which are generally described as having approved the treaty in fact have not absolutely finalised ratification.

In Poland, the treaty was approved by the country's Parliament in April, but Polish president Lech Kaczynski was reportedly waiting until the outcome of the Irish referendum before adding his signature.
Influential voices have urged him not to sign and on 23 June fresh doubts emerged that Mr Kaczynski will approve the treaty. According to EUobserver, presidential aide Michal Kaminski told Poland's Radio ZET that "There are a lot of indications that...the Lisbon Treaty today doesn't exist in a legal sense because one of the [EU] countries rejected its ratification," indicating that the president's office now regards the treaty as dead.

Similarly, in Germany, while both houses of the German parliament have passed the legislation ratifying the treaty, German President Horst Koehler has yet to sign it pending a
Constitutional challenge. Peter Gauweiler, an MP and member of the Christian Social Union, has launched the bid to have the treaty ruled unconstitutional citing objections that the treaty impinges on German sovereignty, in particular on the rights of German citizens to representation by members of the German parliament.

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