Institutional Affairs

Estonia ratifies EU constitution

09.05.06 @ 13:47

  1. By Helena Spongenberg

BRUSSELS - Estonia has become the 15th country to ratify the EU constitution when its parliament voted with a clear majority in favour of the treaty on Tuesday.

Estonian lawmakers voted 73 in favour and one against with no abstentions on Europe Day (9 May) after the second parliamentary reading.

The European Commission welcomed the overwhelming support for the EU constitution in the Estonian parliament.

"This is a clear sign of Estonia's European commitment," said commission spokesperson Mikolaj Dowgielewicz.

"Every ratification counts. Those voices who voted 'no' should be heard but it is equally important to listen to the voices of those who voted 'yes'," Mr Dowgielewicz stated.

According to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the constitutional treaty is the best text available at the moment.

"It is a good treaty for Europe, and for Estonia," Mr Paet said in a statement.

"Estonia is declaring that we must increase the efficiency of common endeavours in spheres where it would benefit the security and welfare of the people living in the European Union," Mr Paet added.

Finland is set to be next

Finland is likely to follow suit during its EU presidency - the Nordic country takes over the presidency from Austria on 1 July.

The Finnish parliament is expected to express itself in favour of ratification next Tuesday, kicking off a ratification process which could be finalised by September, said a Finnish diplomat.

Fifteen member states have now ratified the constitution: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

But French and Dutch citizens rejected the charter last year, prompting EU leaders to call for a "pause of reflection" on the new treaty, which must be ratified by all 25 member states for it to enter into force.

Two of the EU's most eurosceptic countries, the UK and Denmark, have postponed their referendum on the constitution after the results in France and the Netherlands.

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