17th Feb 2019

Finnish and Estonian parliaments ratify EU treaty

  • A majority of EU states have ratified the EU's Lisbon treaty (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The Finnish and Estonian parliaments have ratified the EU's Lisbon treaty, just a day before Irish citizens are to cast their vote on the document in a referendum being closely watched across Europe.

A large majority of Finnish deputies – 151 out of 200 – on Wednesday (11 June) voted in favour of the document, while 27 opposed it and 21 were absent, according to AFP news agency.

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A little later on Wednesday afternoon, the Estonian parliament also approved the Lisbon treaty. Its vote was almost unanimous: 91 votes in favour and one against. Nine MPs abstained.

In both countries, the presidents now have to sign off the document for ratification to be finalised.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed both votes, saying: "The treaty has now been approved by seventeen member states. The two votes today send a strong signal, confirming the desire for the treaty to be ratified in good time to enter into force by 1 January 2009."

Earlier in the day, the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering also said that "coming a day before the Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the approval by a big majority of members of the Finnish parliament is a further important signal that this Reform Treaty is in Europe's vital interest."

In addition, the Greek parliament was expected to vote on the document later in the day.

Ireland is the only country that will put the document to a popular vote on Thursday (12 June) and polls suggest the result will be tight.

The EU will be hoping that Wednesday's ratification give a boost to the "yes" camp in Ireland as it is getting increasingly nervous about the referendum's outcome

By contrast, comments by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner earlier this week that an Irish "no" vote would be a sign of ungratefulness were dismissed as "counter-productive" in Ireland.

"It would be very, very, very troubling...that we could not count on the Irish, who themselves have counted a lot on Europe's money," Mr Kouchner told French radio RTL.

Mr Kouchner "should have minded his own business. We have proven in Ireland that we can take our own decisions," Irish health minister Mary Harney said, according to French daily Le Figaro on Wednesday (11 June).

The Lisbon treaty was drawn up after the European Constitution was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. It contains most of that document's innovations.

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