Czech lower house delays vote on Lisbon treaty

The Lisbon treaty, meant to smooth the EU's functioning after the union grew to 27 members from 15 in the past five years, must be ratified by all EU countries to take effect.

Czech lower house delays vote on Lisbon treaty
The Czech parliament postponed a vote on the European Union's reform treaty on Wednesday, showing the document faces further hurdles before approval in the country which holds the rotating EU presidency.

The Lisbon treaty, meant to smooth the EU's functioning after the union grew to 27 members from 15 in the past five years, must be ratified by all EU countries to take effect.

The lower house delayed a vote on the treaty until Feb. 17, pending further debate and preparation of legal amendments that the ruling Civic Democrats demand to accompany ratification.

"I think that the treaty will pass (in the lower house) after the two weeks," said Marek Benda, a Civic Democrat and chairman of the lower house constitutional committee.

But even if the lower house ratifies the treaty, it could still face tough opposition from Civic Democrats in the Senate.

The right-wing party has linked approval of the Lisbon treaty to the ratification of a separate plan to build a U.S. missile defence radar southwest of Prague.

The leftist opposition has criticised the radar plan, and given the equal balance of power between the government and opposition in parliament, both plans may be kept waiting in at least one chamber for weeks or even months.

"The upper house will likely wait for what we do with the radar treaties," Benda told Reuters.

"It will not be linked here (in the lower house) but it will probably be linked in the Senate."

The Civic Democrats said they also wanted ratification of the treaty to be accompanied by a legal change that would prevent the Czech government from ceding decision-making powers to the EU without approval from parliament.

The Lisbon treaty has been ratified by 24 out of 27 EU member states. Ireland rejected the treaty in a referendum but plans to hold a new vote later this year. The Polish parliament has approved the treaty but the president has yet to sign it.

Reuters
Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2009, 14:58
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