Civic Democrats: EU reform treaty should be examined by Constitutional Court

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK

The Civic Democrats, the biggest party in the Czech government, have decided to have the freshly agreed European Union reform treaty examined by the Czech Constitutional Court; they want to make sure it does not conflict with the country's constitution. What's more, there are different views among the Civic Democrats as to whether a referendum should be held to ratify the treaty in the Czech Republic.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK
A busy weekend it was for Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. On Friday, he signed the reform treaty at an EU summit in Lisbon, only to face the Euro-sceptic wing of his own party at the Civic Democrats' Executive Council session the following day. The Civic Democrats, with a traditionally strong Euro-sceptic bearing, managed to reach a partial consensus concerning the new reform treaty: they want to have it reviewed by the Czech Constitutional Court to make sure it complies with the constitution. Mr Topolanek told Czech TV on Sunday that the agreement is fine with him.

"I am not disturbed by the request of some people to have it reviewed by the Constitutional Court. The debate about whether the treaty will be ratified by the Parliament or in a referendum is totally open. I expressed my personal opinion that I prefer ratification by the Parliament. There we go back to the first issue of the review by the Constitutional Court; if it turns out that the reform treaty does not interfere with our constitution there is no need for a referendum."

Mr Topolanek's view on whether or not there should be a referendum to decide on the adoption of the reform treaty is not shared by some Civic Democratic politicians who did not support the adoption of the European Constitution in the past, and do not support the reform treaty either. Hynek Fajmon is a MEP for the Civic Democrats.

"My personal view is that it would be better to have a referendum because it not just a matter of constitutional compliance but also a matter of competences being transferred to European level. This is an issue of Czech sovereignty and I don't think that any political party has a mandate to transfer that power without a referendum."

None of the Czech political parties have announced yet whether they will require a referendum to adopt the reform treaty, or if it should be adopted by both chambers of the Parliament. According to Libor Roucek, a MEP for the opposition Social Democrats, there is a chance that Mr Topolanek could receive support from other political parties for his position.

"I think that the Czech Republic should be among the first to ratify the treaty; the ratification should be done by the two chambers of the Parliament because as I mentioned, we already had a referendum in 2003 and I don't see any need at the moment to have another one. What we need both in the Czech Republic and in Europe is a speedy ratification throughout next year, so that it is done before the beginning of 2009 when the elections to the European Parliament will be held."