Poland deals new blow to French EU presidency

Kaczynski, a Eurosceptic, has long opposed the treaty but his comments highlighted the problems facing President Nicolas Sarkozy at the start of France's six-month tenure of the EU's rotating presidency.

Poland deals new blow to French EU presidency
Polish President Lech Kaczynski increased the problems facing the European Union on the first day of France's presidency of the bloc on Tuesday, saying he will not sign the Union's reform treaty for now.

Kaczynski said it would be "pointless" signing the treaty following its rejection by Irish voters in a referendum on June 12. The treaty, intended to overhaul the bloc's institutions, needs the backing of all 27 member states to come into force.

Kaczynski, a Eurosceptic, has long opposed the treaty but his comments highlighted the problems facing President Nicolas Sarkozy at the start of France's six-month tenure of the EU's rotating presidency.

Asked by the daily Dziennik if he would sign the treaty -- the last step needed for full ratification in Poland -- he said: "This is now pointless. But it is difficult to say how this whole thing will end."

Poland's parliament gave the green light to the treaty in April. Kaczynski delayed signing it but had previously said ratification by Poland was a foregone conclusion.

He compared the bloc's situation to 2005 when French and Dutch voters rejected a more far-reaching EU constitution, which was later reworked into the Lisbon Treaty.

"The bloc functioned, functions and will go on functioning. It's not perfect but such a complicated structure cannot be perfect," Kazynski said.

Sarkozy pledges

Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty for reasons ranging from the fact they considered the text incomprehensible to concerns it would bring higher taxes or legalised abortion.

The treaty is intended to give the EU a stronger leadership, a more effective foreign policy and a fairer decision-making system. It would create a powerful new foreign policy chief and a president of the European Council, its highest political body.

EU member states are pressing on with the ratification process despite the Irish voters' rejection. But Czech President Vaclav Klaus has already said Ireland's rejection means there is no sense in other countries continuing to ratify the treaty.

The Irish "No" vote scuppered any hope of the agreement Sarkozy helped broker coming into force on schedule on Jan 1.

In a one-hour live televised interview on Monday, Sarkozy said he would seek to address voters' concerns about the EU by pushing for tax breaks on products ranging from petrol to green goods and restaurants with table service.

But he told France 3 television: "Things are not going well. Things are not going well at all."

EU leaders meeting in October are due to hear from Ireland's prime minister on how to move forward after the "No" vote.

Officials say the only plan in the works is to make the Irish vote again but politicians have avoided saying so in public. Sarkozy will travel to Dublin on July 11 for talks.

Sarkozy pledged to "protect" EU citizens during France's presidency to try to make the bloc more relevant to everyday life, but offered few new measures.

Reuters
Last Mod: 01 Temmuz 2008, 16:30
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