24th Mar 2018

Poland ratifies Lisbon Treaty as Czech cloud hangs overhead

Polish President Lech Kaczynski signed the Lisbon Treaty at a ceremony in Warsaw on Saturday (10 October). But Czech head of state Vaclav Klaus put a dampener on the occasion with attempts to revive World War II-era tensions from his castle in Prague.

The Polish ceremony got off to a humorous start.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

After making the EU wait for 557 days since the Polish parliament passed the treaty and in full view of foreign VIPs and TV cameras, Mr Kaczynski's first pen failed to write, forcing him to ask for a new one.

"It wasn't planned," a Polish official, Pawel Wypych, later told Polish TV.

Mr Kaczynski warmly endorsed Poland's EU membership. But he said integration should not go too far and indicated that his accord is based on trust that the EU will take in more former Communist states in the future.

"Without any complexes, without fears we have opted for further integration with the European Union, because we feel good, we feel confident inside this fellowship," he said. "The union is a collection of sovereign states and will remain so. But co-operation will become ever more close."

"The union as an exceptionally successful experiment cannot be closed to others who want to join it. Not just Balkan countries, but also Ukraine, Georgia, in the future, others. The union can't say No to them," he added, in his final words before putting pen to paper.

The event was attended by EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, Swedish leader and EU president-in-office Frederik Reinfeldt and Mr Kaczynski's political nemesis, Polish premier Donald Tusk.

News emerged earlier on Saturday that 60 Polish MPs have signed a petition to send the treaty to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to see if it is compatible with national law.

The move, if it goes ahead, could force Prime Minister Tusk to give MPs more powers over his dealings with Brussels in line with recent reforms in Germany.

But the real cloud hanging over the events in Warsaw was a grumpy Vaclav Klaus, who made clear on Friday that he plans to push for last-minute changes to the EU's new treaty at the upcoming 29 October summit.

Klaus reveals his hand

The Czech president said in a statement that he wants Prague to get an exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the model of Polish and British opt-outs, which were added to Lisbon in 2007 in a special protocol.

The opt-out is needed, he added, in order to make sure that German families expelled from the Czech Republic 65 years ago cannot use EU courts to claim back their property.

"[The charter] will make it possible to bypass Czech courts and to raise property claims, for example, of those displaced after World War II directly before the Court of Justice of the EU," he said.

From a legal point of view, it is unclear whether Mr Klaus as president is entitled to demand changes on behalf of Prague or if the other 26 EU states would have to re-ratify the document if a change is made.

The Czech president voiced anger that Sweden's Mr Reinfeldt forced him to unveil his Lisbon challenge earlier than he had planned, by revealing the contents of their phone conversation on Thursday to journalists.

"After the disclosure of the contents of our conversation that – according to our agreement – was to stay confidential, a number of speculations appeared that I'd like to stop," he said.


Selmayr case symptomatic, says EU novel author

The controversy over the new EU Commission top civil servant is revealing of what is wrong with EU institutions and how they are blocked by national governments, says award-winning Austrian novelist Robert Menasse.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica