Monday

29th Nov 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

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.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us