Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Czech court gives green light to EU treaty

  • Pro-Lisbon balloons during the Irish referendum in October. The Czech court ruling was the last major hurdle standing in the way of ratification (Photo: infomatique)

The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a challenge to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, paving the way for Czech President Vaclav Klaus to sign it.

In a keenly awaited decision, the court ruled that the treaty - an overhaul of the EU's institutional rules and laws - is compatible with Czech national law.

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The treaty "is not in conflict with the constitutional law of the Czech Republic," Pavel Rychetsky, the court's chief justice, told state TV on Tuesday (3 November).

The case had been brought by a group of 17 senators and came on the back of a similar though narrower challenge last year, which the top Czech judges also dismissed.

The Czech Republic is the last EU member state to fully ratify the treaty. The process has been held up by Mr Klaus, a eurosceptic and arch opponent of the document.

His signature is needed to complete ratification. In the past few weeks, he achieved a last-man-standing notoriety in the EU by refusing to put pen to paper. But then he appeared to open the door to a climbdown by making a last-minute call for a Czech opt-out from a rights charter contained in the treaty.

Member states, who have been showing increasing impatience with Mr Klaus, delivered the president the concession at a summit at the end of last week.

The Czech president indicated he was pleased with the deal and would sign the treaty. But it remains unclear when this will happen.

Legal and political clarity from the Czech Republic means that a whole series of other pending decisions - such as the shape of the new European Commission, and who will fill the new posts contained in the Lisbon Treaty - can be taken.

Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he believed the treaty could go into force on 1 December - with EU rules saying that the treaty comes into effect on the first day of the month after all the instruments of ratification have been handed in.

Welcoming the court's decision, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said he believed that "no further unnecessary delays" should prevent the treaty coming into force.

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