19th Feb 2019

Germany nears final ratification of Lisbon Treaty

  • German law-makers rushed through laws over the summer to give parliament more oversight on Berlin's EU decisions (Photo: Torkil Sørensen/norden.org)

Germany's president Horst Koehler on Wednesday (23 September) signed newly-drafted national laws enabling the country to adopt the EU's Lisbon Treaty, making final ratification of the document at the end of the week a formality.

The laws will be published in Germany's official law register on Thursday and Mr Koehler is expected to sign the ratification document on Friday.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the step as a great success, reports Spiegel Online. "I put a great deal of effort into this Lisbon Treaty and it is a good end to the German presidency of the EU that we held some time ago'" she said referring to the efforts Berlin made to revive the institutional negotiations in the EU after a planned EU constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands in 2005.

The move puts an end to the ratification question mark that has hung over Germany since last year due to a legal challenge at the country's constitutional court.

In June, the court ruled the treaty to be compatible with the German constitution but said parliamentary oversight must be strengthened, leaving German law-makers to scramble over the summer to draw up laws giving them more powers - but no veto - over EU decisions taken by Berlin.

The probable final step of ratification on Friday will take place exactly one week before Ireland will hold a referendum on the same treaty.

Polls continue to put the Yes side in the lead but there is considerable nervousness in Brussels about the outcome and the country itself is awash with campaigners from both sides battling it out over many of the same issues that came up ahead of the first referendum in June last year.

Aside from Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic still have to complete ratification with signatures by their presidents.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus has angered some his EU counterparts for apparently wanting to delay ratification for as long as possible, a move that prompted France to say there would be "consequences" if he continued even after a Yes vote in Ireland.

However, right-wing Czech senators may soon be in league with Mr Klaus. Czech media reports that a group of senators will next week (28 September) ask the constitutional court if the treaty is compatible with Czech law, a legal examination that could take months to complete.

A delay of several months in ratification of the treaty - which needs to be ratified by all 27 member states before it comes into force - opens up the chance of the British Conservatives coming into power while the issue is still undecided.

Britain is due to hold an election by mid-2010 at the latest. The opposition Conservatives, who have promised a referendum on the EU treaty, are widely expected to win it.

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