The EU’s Lisbon treaty has inched a step closer towards ratification following a decision by the Czech Constitutional Court. On Tuesday, the court threw out a secondary challenge put forward by a group of eurosceptic senators. On the other hand, arguably more serious obstacles remain: a complaint on the document as a whole, as well as continued opposition by the country’s President Václav Klaus.
One less hurdle, only a few left to go: that is how supporters of the EU’s Lisbon treaty must be viewing the latest decision by the Czech Constitutional Court. On Tuesday the court threw out a complaint which had challenged a related bill in the Czech Republic: an amendment governing the transfer of national powers to Brussels. Eurosceptic senators had challenged that such decisions should require a three-fifths or so-called “constitutional” majority in Parliament; the court found the challenge unsubstantiated. The decision was welcomed by “Lisbon” supporters, including the head of the country’s caretaker government, Jan Fischer, who sees the development as a positive step.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of obstacles left: for one, the court has only just begun reviewing a primary challenge to the treaty as a whole – a process which could take weeks at best. Then, even if Lisbon is “cleared”, there is also President Václav Klaus. The country’s staunchest opponent to the treaty has not given any indication he will sign, even though he is constitutionally bound to do so, since the document was approved by both houses of Parliament. He, indeed, could be the very last hurdle, given that Polish President Lech Kaczynski, another vocal opponent, is expected to sign in the coming days.
Jose Manuel Barroso, photo: CTK
Doubts over ratification are of course a source of continued headaches for leaders in Brussels, eager to see ratification of the treaty A.S.A.P following the positive result in Ireland’s repeat referendum. On Wednesday Prime Minister Jan Fischer was to have travelled to meet personally with the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso as well as the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, now heading the EU Presidency - they met through a video-conference call. Ultimately it is unclear that even they can ratchet up any further pressure on Mr Klaus, but it may also not be necessary: many observers say even now that the Constitutional Court will find the treaty in line with the constitution by November at the latest, reason for EU leaders to hope that Lisbon can be implemented by January 1.