19th Feb 2019

Czech lower house passes EU treaty

The Czech Republic took the first step toward ratification of the EU's new set of institutional rules on Wednesday (18 February), when the lower house of parliament gave the green light to the Lisbon treaty.

The vote saw 125 deputies vote in favour of the document and 61 against with 197 deputies present, reports Czech news agency CTK.

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  • Mr Topolanek (r) getting friendly with Mr Barroso - the Czech leader said on Tuesday he doesn't care for the Lisbon treaty (Photo: eu2009.cz)

A total of 120 votes were needed to pass the treaty in the 200-seat lower house.

Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra welcomed the result, which had been delayed several times previously due to domestic squabbling between political parties.

He called it a "significant step" after "thorough, democratic debate."

The move represents partial relief from what was becoming an increasing embarrassing situation for the Czech Republic.

Prague currently holds the six-month EU presidency but is the last member state to vote on the treaty, in a situation that did not go unnoticed in Brussels and other EU capitals.

Lukewarm comments about the document by prime minister Mirek Topolanek have also raised eyebrows.

"I will breathe a sigh of relief after we pass it although I think we don't need the Lisbon treaty," he said during the parliament's debate on the document on Tuesday evening.

The text faces two more hurdles before it is passed in the central European country. It still has to be passed in the Senate, where a vote is due in April.

Members of the ruling centre-right ODS party have threatened to block the treaty in the upper house, unless a law is passed guaranteeing that the parliament has the right to first approve any moves to transfer more power to the EU level.

The country's eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus must also sign the document for ratification to be completed. Mr Klaus opposes the reforms, saying they undermine national sovereignty.

The Lisbon treaty also has to be ratified in Ireland, where a second referendum on the issue is due later this year.

Meanwhile, Poland's president has made his signature contingent on Ireland voting Yes and Germany's constitution court is examining a claim that the treaty is anti-constitutional, delaying full ratification in the EU's biggest member state.

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