Monday

27th Jan 2020

Lithuania first to ratify EU Constitution

Lithuania has become the first country in the European Union to ratify the European Constitution - just under two weeks after the document was formally signed.

The small Baltic state, which joined the EU on 1 May, ratified the document via its parliament - the Seimas - by an overwhelming majority on Thursday (11 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Lithuania - one down 24 to go (Photo: European Commission)

Eighty-four voted in favour of the Constitution with four against and three abstentions.

Ratification came on the last day of the current Seimas which is being dissolved following the recent general elections.

"This parliament wanted to do it because they were very much involved in the process via the Convention [which drew up the text]", said a Lithuanian diplomat in Brussels.

The European Commission welcomed Vilnius' news saying "it is a very positive development indeed".

Before Thursday's ratification there had been some discussion about whether to have a referendum on the issue.

However, Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said recently that Lithuanians already voted on accession to the EU and there is no need for the Constitution to be approved by citizens.

Pipped to the post

Lithuania's news has also pulled the carpet somewhat from underneath the European Parliament's feet - it had expected to be the first parliament in Europe to ratify the Constitution in December.

Similarly, Italy was expecting to be the first of the member states to ratify the Treaty via its parliament.

Foreign minister Franco Frattini said last month "We seek to be the first to ratify it... at the latest it will be a Christmas present".

Although officials in Brussels are relieved that the first ratification is out of the way and that it is in favour of the Constitution - it is clear that it is only the first step along a lengthy ratification road.

All 25 member states have to ratify the Constitution - either via their parliaments or via referendum - before the document can come into force.

In countries such as the UK, there is high chance that their planned referendum will result in a no vote.

So far, eleven countries have said they will ratify by referendum - the first country set to do so is Spain on 20 February.

Why is Netherlands so far behind on renewables?

Despite its historic connotation with windmills and dams, the Netherlands is in fact far behind most EU countries in the production of energy from renewable sources - alongside stragglers such as Malta, Luxembourg and Belgium.

EU gearing up for even more anti-crime measures

The European Commission says it is working on proposals to fight terrorism, organised crime, drugs and now wants to expand the EU's police agency Europol. A whole raft of measures covering all three areas have been proposed since 2001.

News in Brief

  1. EU countries to evacuate citizens from virus-hit Wuhan in China
  2. Report: Austria and Italy block EU's Libya mission
  3. Michel organises extra EU budget summit on 20 February
  4. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  5. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  6. Leftist MEPs to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  7. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  8. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Salvini down, but not out in Italy regional poll
  2. Brexit finally happens - the UK leaves the EU This WEEK
  3. Why is Netherlands so far behind on renewables?
  4. Poland calls for Nato 'readiness' on Russia
  5. EU gearing up for even more anti-crime measures
  6. The bright side of 'Brexit Day' for the rest of the EU
  7. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  8. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us