Lisbon: Klaus and Kaczynksi under pressure

Oct. 5, 2009 at 6:06 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- After getting Ireland's backing for the EU reform, Brussels now needs to convince Poland and the Czech Republic to support the Lisbon Treaty.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the two central European countries -- the biggest opponents of the EU reform -- to stop holding things up.

"France wants the states, which have not yet done so, to finish the ratification process as quickly as possible, so that the Lisbon Treaty can be implemented before the end of the year," Sarkozy said in a statement.

The leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic, Presidents Lech Kaczynski and Vaclav Klaus, have in the past weeks voiced their opposition to Lisbon, a paper aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-member bloc.

On Friday the EU received a big boost when Irish voters in a referendum voted in favor of the treaty after the country had rejected it a year ago. This time Lisbon was passed with a majority of 67 percent, pushing the number of countries that have ratified the treaty to 25.

"Today the Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice. This is a good day for Ireland and a good day for Europe," Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said in a statement.

Ahead of the vote, Kaczynski had said he would sign the treaty in case of an Irish "Yes"; he is now under pressure to keep his promise, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk already told Kaczynski that Europe is waiting for his signature.

If that is put on paper, it will be increasingly hard for Czech President Vaclav Klaus, one of the most vocal opponents of Lisbon, to refuse to sign the accord. The president has said, however, that he would delay his decision to sign the treaty until his country's constitutional court issues a ruling on a complaint related to Lisbon.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will meet with Klaus on Wednesday.

Leaders at the meeting will discuss "what happens next and when," a spokeswoman of the Swedish EU presidency told the press Monday.

The Lisbon Treaty would reduce bureaucracy in the EU, introduce a full-time president of the European Council, an EU foreign minister and a new European diplomatic corps. The accord would also hand more powers to the European Parliament. Its members are directly elected.

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