Ireland wins guarantees over Lisbon treaty at final EU summit of Czech presidency

Photo: CTK

The final summit of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the European Union has just come to an end. Among the main issues on the agenda at the two-day meeting of Europe’s leaders in Brussels: the appointment of the next president of the Commission, new rules to oversee the financial sector, and - first and foremost - the future of the Lisbon treaty.

Jose Manuel Barroso,  photo: CTK
Chairing the summit, the interim Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, reiterated his backing for Jose Manuel Barroso to stay on as president of the European Commission for a second five-year term. He is the only candidate for the post, and even received the backing of left-of-centre leaders in Brussels.

Jan Fischer had this to say at a joint news conference with Mr Barroso.

Jan Fischer,  photo: CTK
“The Czech presidency and the incoming Swedish presidency will be using the ways which will lead to the election of Jose Manuel Barroso. A lot of heads of state and government, the leaders of the member states, have promised their personal support. It doesn’t matter if they are on the right, in the centre or on the left of the political scene.”

Among the other topics discussed in Brussels was the regulation of financial institutions and markets. EU leaders committed themselves to a reform of financial supervision that would include the creation next year of pan-European standard-setting and risk-monitoring bodies.

But perhaps THE issue taxing European leaders was the future of the Lisbon treaty, specifically the Irish government’s demand for legal guarantees on national sovereignty aimed at securing backing for the document in a second referendum later this year.

A deal reached between the Czech Republic, Ireland and the UK cleared the way to agreement on assurances for voters that Irish policy on matters like military neutrality and abortion will not be affected by the treaty. Jose Manuel Barroso:

“This gives all the reassurances the Irish people need, this gives me confidence that we will have a yes vote in the Irish referendum. I’m now very confident, because in fact the Irish government has got everything from the colleagues to have the best conditions to ask again the Irish people to express their will regarding the treaty.”

Photo: CTK
The guarantees given to Ireland will not affect the ratification of Lisbon in other EU states. That would appear to mean that the Czech president, Václav Klaus, will not get his stated wish of seeing the Czech Parliament have to go through the ratification process again.

While both houses of Parliament have approved Lisbon, the Czech president has ruled out putting his signature to ratification of the EU’s reform document for the moment. Mr Klaus is waiting for a Czech Constitutional Court ruling on the Lisbon treaty, and has also said he won’t sign as long as Ireland hasn’t approved it.