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28th Jan 2023

Klaus pledges to be last to sign the Lisbon Treaty

  • Vaclav Klaus says he is not the 'last mohican' on the question of the treaty (Photo: Wikipedia)

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has pledged to be the last in the EU to sign the Lisbon Treaty, raising fears about the future of the document which has been several painful years in the making.

The Czech parliament has approved the treaty, but the president's signature is needed to complete the process, a fact that the eurosceptic Mr Vaclav has dangled over the rest of the member states on several occasions.

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"I will certainly not rush," Mr Klaus told Czech Radio, reports DPA. "I will certainly wait until after all those things about which I have talked about, which include a constitutional complaint by our senators ... happen."

"The Irish have not voted again. Poland has not signed the Lisbon Treaty, and Germany has not signed the Lisbon Treaty. So I am not the last Mohican who is fighting against all," he said.

He has always said he would wait until the after the Irish have voted in a second referendum on the treaty, expected in Ireland in the autumn, before signing off. But in recent days, he has increased his anti-treaty rhetoric.

The latest opinion polls show that the Irish are likely to vote Yes this time round, with the approval of all 27 member states needed to put the treaty into force.

However, the treaty is currently being examined by Germany's constitutional court (a verdict is due at the end of June), the Polish president, also a critic of the document, has not signed it, and it is facing a court ruling in the Czech Republic.

The British question

Mr Klaus' tactics could result in the treaty never being put into action as the longer it takes for the treaty to be fully ratified across the EU, the greater the chances of a conservative government coming into power in Britain.

A general election must be held in Britain by June 2010, and the Conservatives, widely expected to win over the governing but damaged Labour Party, has pledged to put the treaty to a referendum if it is not in already in force.

Conservative leader David Cameron clashed with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in parliament on Tuesday (23 June) over the treaty, and particularly the guarantees on how it should be interpreted in three areas - tax, neutrality and social issues - secured by Ireland at last week's EU summit.

The guarantees, to be formally enshrined into EU law after the treaty is in force, were part of a general package designed to encourage Irish voters say Yes in the autumn poll.

Mr Cameron took Mr Brown to task for not having a debate on Ireland's guarantees in parliament now. He also asked why Irish citizens were "being forced to give their views twice" while British voters had had no referendum themselves.

For his part, Irish leader Brian Cowen, fresh from securing war support from Mr Brown at the summit for making the protocols legally binding, has said believes Ireland will vote Yes this time round.

"I believe the people will say 'yes' on this occasion. I am just not prepared to contemplate defeat, " he told Irish radio earlier in the week.

However, the exact date for the referendum remains unclear, although Mr Cowen has hinted it will take place on 2 October.

He expected to name the day in two week's time when legislation to allow the referendum to take place goes through parliament, reports the Irish Times.

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