21st Mar 2018

Poland kicks EU constitution into uncertain future

The Polish lower house voted to put off a decision on whether to ratify the EU constitution by referendum or parliament on Tuesday (5 July), booting the charter off the agenda until after the September general elections at the earliest.

One hundred and eighty nine members opted to freeze the ratification process against 180 in a narrow vote, with the winning camp mostly made up of rightist parties such as Civic Platform (PO) and Law and Justice (PiS), while the losers came predominantly from left-leaning groups such as the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).

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  • Warsaw has opted to put the treaty on ice (Photo: European Commission)

PO and PiS are widely tipped to come to power in a coalition government following the September elections, which could spell trouble for the constitution's future in Poland.

"This vote was supposed to create the legal basis for a future referendum. The next parliament might return to the issue of ratifying the treaty, but it will probably be more eurosceptic than the present one", Polish lower house speaker Wlodzimierz Cimosiewicz told PAP.

"It might happen, that Poland ceases to cooperate with its European partners on this issue", he added.

Poland joins list

Wednesday's vote has put Poland on the same list as five other countries that opted to freeze the ratification process in the wake of the French and Dutch no votes - the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark and the Czech republic.

The move is in line with a June EU summit decision to put ratification on hold until the Austrian EU presidency in early 2006 in order to allow a cooling off period.

But more and more constitution-watchers have begun to pronounce the existing document stone dead.

Eleven countries have ratified the treaty so far, while Luxembourg will persevere with votes later this month.

Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski had initially pushed for a 9 October referendum date, but made a u-turn on his recommendations in late June as the French and Dutch wave of euro-pessimism sloshed eastward.

A source in the Polish delegation to Brussels explained that on the one hand, the existing Polish government had nothing to lose from an October vote as it was on its way out from power anyway.

But on the other hand, a third no vote from the EU's sixth largest country could further damage the European integration process as a whole.

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