Group of right-wing senators readies second Lisbon Treaty complaint

Foto: Evropská komise

A group of Czech right-wing senators has announced it will file a second complaint on the Lisbon Treaty. Civic Democrat Senator Jiří Oberfalzer said the group would again petition the Constitutional Court to examine the treaty’s compatibility with Czech law on September 28. The move, which precedes a key Irish repeat referendum in October, could end up further delaying overall ratification by up to six months.

If leaders in Brussels are worried it is for good reason as they face additional delay in the ratification of the EU’s Lisbon treaty. Although the outcome of the upcoming second Irish referendum now appears to favour Lisbon, a group of right-wing Czech senators will almost certainly complicate further ratification by petitioning the court once again over whether the treaty is compatible with Czech law. Overall ratification could be delayed here for up to six months. Political analyst Petr Just:

Lisbon Treaty, photo: European Commission
“We can see that there is still a situation where a few people, Czech eurosceptics, are trying to do everything against ratification of the treaty, who are trying to show there are still doubts about the compatibility of the treaty and still have doubts. Of course, this group is headed by President Václav Klaus, who has been very open about his opposition to the document both at home and on the European field.”

The Czech president, in fact, has promised to be the very last to sign the treaty even if it is ratified everywhere else - distinctly ignoring the fact that the document has already received backing in a three-fifths constitutional majority in the Czech Parliament. Petr Just says that is something of a paradox: usually Mr Klaus stresses that the Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy but in this case he has refused to give Parliament it’s due and clearly has no qualms delaying the result. Petr Just again:

“The Czech Republic will, according to Václav Klaus, be the last country to ratify the treaty and I think this may generally complicate the situation for the Czechs. If not institutionally in the EU, then psychologically: the Czech Republic will risk being seen as a county without too much interest in the European Union.”

Václav Klaus
Tensions have, not surprisingly, been growing at the European level: last week French President Nicholas Sarkozy warned that Prague faced “consequences” if it failed to quickly ratify the treaty after the Irish vote. And he wasn’t alone: Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico also warned Prague it was undermining its position in the EU over the issue. But these are warnings appear to have left the group of senators as well as the country’s famously eurosceptic Czech president unfazed: they know that the longer the treaty is delayed, the greater the chances fresh opposition will emerge. Observers have noted that British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, for example, has pledged to call for a referendum on “Lisbon” next year, when Brits go to the polls in the general election, if the issue has still not been resolved.