16th Sep 2019

Doubts emerging over Poland's Lisbon ratification

  • Warsaw: Polish society is among the most pro-EU in Europe, but its president may not play ball (Photo: EUobserver)

Poland is emerging as another potential problem for Lisbon Treaty ratification, with the office of the president - who has yet to sign off on the document - beginning to publicly argue that the EU pact is dead following the Irish No.

"There are a lot of indications that...the Lisbon Treaty today doesn't exist in a legal sense because one of the [EU] countries rejected its ratification," presidential aide Michal Kaminski told Poland's Radio ZET on Sunday (22 June).

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The EU constitution "ended its life" after the French and Dutch referendums in 2005, he explained by way of comparison. Conservative MP Przemyslaw Gosiewski - from the president's Law and Justice party - took the same line on the radio talk-show.

"In my opinion - as a lawyer - we have the same situation as after Holland and France...the rules on ratification of the [Lisbon] treaty unequivocally state that after the Irish rejection, it has not been ratified," he said.

The Polish parliament approved Lisbon in April with prime minister Donald Tusk at last Friday's EU summit calling for EU-wide ratification to continue, while adding he was "not responsible" for Polish president Lech Kaczynski's decision.

Nine Polish liberal and Socialist MEPs in an open letter last week also urged Mr Kaczynski to sign. But socialist SLD party leader Wojciech Olejniczak warned in Sunday's radio debate that the president may not play ball.

"Let's not deceive ourselves, the president won't sign this treaty. The president is an opportunist," he said.

The presidential signature has also been made conditional on finalising a new "competencies" deal with the government which would give both parliament and Mr Kaczynski's office an oversight role on future EU negotiations.

Fifteen out of 27 EU states have so far definitively ratified the Lisbon pact, with the Czech republic the biggest opponent to continuing the process after 53 percent of Irish people voted No in the only referendum on the text.

UK ratification was called into question late last week after London's High Court warned the treaty cannot become law until it rules on a legal challenge by eurosceptic millionaire Stuart Wheeler, despite the British queen having given her "Royal Assent."

Europe needs clarity

Commenting on the situation in German magazine Bild at the weekend, Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker said that in the future, Europe-wide referendums may be needed to give "clarity" to the mandate for further EU integration.

"I am open towards the idea of Europe-wide could become a reasonable tool, also for the basic question: 'Do you want to be a member of the European Union and for this renounce the needed [national] competences?'" he said.

"We would get clarity. In the EU, are 50 percent of the people convinced that we need more Europe?"

The latest opinion surveys in regional French newspapers gave contradictory indications on feelings in one of Europe's largest founding nations, three years after the EU constitution debacle.

A CSA poll for Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France this weekend showed 56 percent of people would vote Yes for Lisbon if they had the chance, while an IFOP survey for the Sud-Ouest journal said 53 percent would vote No.

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