Friday

18th Jan 2019

Klaus keeps EU guessing on future of Lisbon Treaty

  • Prague is keeping the rest of the EU waiting (Photo: Metal Chris)

The Czech constitutional court will hear a challenge to the EU's Lisbon Treaty at the end of October. But the relief in Brussels at having a clear timetable is being undermined by the continued unpredictability of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who holds the fate of the treaty in his hands.

The court on Tuesday (13 October) said it would examine whether the treaty is compatible with the Czech constitution at a hearing on 27 October. The dramatic timing will see the discussion held just two days before an EU summit in Brussels on the text.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In the past, Czech court has usually given its verdict a few days after such a hearing. But this is not a hard and fast rule.

If the judges reject the challenge, the treaty still has to be signed by Mr Klaus, a eurosceptic and arch opponent of the document.

Mr Klaus recently made those who believe he will not sign even after judicial approval more nervous by throwing out an eleventh-hour demand for Prague to get an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, a part of Lisbon.

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, in an embarassing political situation, on Tuesday flew to Brussels to reassure European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso of the Czech government's good intentions.

But it was evident in the press conference afterwards that Mr Fischer was as unsure as everybody else on what Mr Klaus' next move will be.

He said he had asked Mr Klaus to "provide a clear and explicit guarantee" that the president will complete ratification in "due course."

Mr Klaus has kept silent on what the opt-out should look like.

One solution is for EU leaders to make a political declaration on 29 October which could later be tacked on to the treaty in a protocol. But other solutions may require re-opening the ratification process by all 27 states - a horror scenario for the EU.

Mr Fischer has said the Czech government does "not believe it is possible to open the ratification process" but Mr Klaus has not made a similar public statement.

The Czech ratification saga is being viewed with some disbelief among EU officials, who point to the fact that both houses of the Czech parliament have already passed the treaty.

The commission and the Swedish EU presidency have been upping the political pressure by making a show of unity along with the Czech prime minister.

But there is a reluctance to issue any outright political threats to Mr Klaus for fear that it will strengthen his hand.

Mr Barroso contented himself with pointing out that Mr Klaus himself signed the country's EU accession treaty and himself originally asked for the Czech Republic to be a member of the 27-nation club.

Meanwhile, as Mr Klaus considers his next moves, a series of pressing EU institutional questions are waiting to be dealt with, all of which require clarity on when and whether the EU will move from its current treaty to the Lisbon text.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

Opinion

On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?

If the European parliament votes in favour of the new Morocco agreement without knowing that it complies with the European Court of Justice judgement, how can it demand that other countries respect international law and their own courts?

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

Opinion

On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?

If the European parliament votes in favour of the new Morocco agreement without knowing that it complies with the European Court of Justice judgement, how can it demand that other countries respect international law and their own courts?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us