Will he or won’t he? President Klaus keeps Europe in suspense.

Photo: European Commission

Will he sign or won’t he – and what’s to be done if he doesn’t – that is the question politicians across Europe are asking themselves. President Klaus is keeping everyone in suspense, but political analyst Jiří Pehe thinks the Eurosceptic Czech president will soon have to concede defeat.

“I think that President Klaus will sign the Lisbon treaty if the Constitutional Court decides that the treaty is in line with the Czech Constitution. Then Mr. Klaus would be in a very difficult position, he would find himself under tremendous international pressure but also on the domestic scene –from political parties and the Czech Parliament. In fact we would be risking a constitutional war between the president and Parliament because under such circumstances Parliament would undoubtedly try to force the president to sign the Lisbon treaty and we know that the Czech Constitution is in this respect quite harsh on the president and the president could be impeached.”

Photo: European Commission
There is now debate as to whether it would be wise – if possible – to get the respective group of senators to withdraw their complaint so that the president would be able to sign the treaty immediately – do you think that would be wise or should the Czech Republic now let matters take their course?

“The Constitutional Court ruled on the relevant parts of the Lisbon treaty last year already and it decided that there was not a problem – that the Czech Constitution and the Lisbon treaty were in line. Of course the second complaint lodged by the group of right-wing senators now wants the court to rule on the entire Lisbon treaty not only on relevant parts but still it is highly unlikely that the Constitutional Court would reverse its decision and say that the treaty is not in line with the Czech Constitution. Given these prospects I think that it would be wise to withdraw this complaint and make it possible for the Czech Republic to ratify the treaty and maybe get in return some important position in the European Commission. If this doesn’t happen the European Union will not manage to start functioning in line with the Lisbon treaty as of January, which means we will continue functioning in line with the Nice treaty and that treaty says that as of November 2009 –if a new treaty is not approved – the number of commissioners has to decrease. So we will be under a lot of pressure to give up a commissioner or, at the very least, we will be blamed by the other member states for causing this tremendous problem. So I think that withdrawing this complaint would be a good thing for the Czech Republic.”

So either way, you think the Czech Republic has at the most until the end of the year to ratify the treaty?

“Absolutely, I think the Czech Republic has until December to ratify the treaty and if that does not happen I think the rest of the EU will move forward with its own plan. We often hear that there is no plan B but I do not think it is entirely true I think especially the big European countries – Germany –France – Italy – would go ahead with some contingency measures and from what we can see and what we hear it seems that part of this plan is to punish the Czech Republic and I don’t think it is in the interest of this country to be in such a position.”

So what do you think – will it be signed by the end of the year?

“My opinion is that, yes, the treaty will be signed by the end of this year. I expect the Constitutional Court to rule by the end of November at the latest and then in my opinion the president will sign – will not stand in the way of this process – and the treaty will be ratified by the end of this year. ”