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Sweden cautions Czechs over Lisbon 'opt outs'

AFP/The Local · 9 Oct 2009, 07:41

Published: 09 Oct 2009 07:41 GMT+02:00

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Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday became the sole European leader to hold out against the EU reform treaty and set new conditions for ratification, as Poland's Lech Kaczynski pledged to sign it this week.

But France, in an immediate reaction to the Czech leader's demand, said it would oppose any prerequisites and underlined that the Lisbon Treaty had been approved by the Czech parliament and senate.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, said Thursday that Klaus "wishes to add a footnote with two sentences" to the treaty.

"As far as I understand it, he's linking this to the (EU's) Charter of Fundamental Rights and then he wants the European Council to take a decision on this footnote," Reinfeldt told reporters.

Reinfeldt said he had spoken to Klaus and told him that he was sending out "the wrong message at the wrong time, that it is very late in the process."

Klaus's spokesman in Prague refused comment.

The Lisbon Treaty has to be approved by all 27 EU member states to come into force, possibly next year, and time is running out, with the commission's mandate due to expire at the end of the month.

The treaty aims to streamline the running of the EU, which has nearly doubled in size in the past five years as a swathe of ex-communist countries such as Poland have joined.

Polish President Kaczynski meanwhile will sign the treaty "on Saturday at noon," his chief of staff Waldyslaw Stasiak said. He had promised to sign if Irish voted to approve the treaty in a second referendum on October 2.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament speaker Jerzy Buzek and Swedish premier Reinfeldt will attend the signing ceremony.

As the Czech president became the sole stumbling block to the treaty, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner struck a pugnacious note.

"We are not going to change the Lisbon Treaty," Kouchner told reporters.

"It was voted by the Czech parliament and the Czech senate under very precise terms that everybody accepted, the 27 countries" that are members of the European Union, he said.

Klaus, who is bellicose and unpredictable, refuses to fly the EU flag outside his official residence.

The Czech parliament has already approved the treaty and Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who this week held talks with other EU leaders, opposes Klaus's campaign against it.

"I believe that everything is in place for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty to be fully completed in the Czech Republic by the end of this year," Fischer said Wednesday.

A group of 17 Czech senators have filed a complaint against the treaty with the country's Constitutional Court, which is expected to announce a date for its ruling within days.

Story continues below…

According to Reinfeldt, Klaus's demand could resemble exemptions, or "opt-outs", granted to Poland and Britain in 2007 on the Charter of Fundamental Rights in their negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty.

The charter is part of the Lisbon Treaty, setting in stone fundamental human rights.

Poland received assurances from the EU that the Charter would not affect its legislation on homosexuals, while Britain was assured that European laws and courts would not prevail over its own judicial system.

"I remember we had lengthy discussions about this Charter of Fundamental Rights, because we had special conditions for Poland and for Britain," Reinfeldt said.

"I think that it's what he's (Klaus is) referring too," he added.

Any such footnote added to the Lisbon Treaty would require the approval of all members of the EU.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:01 October 9, 2009 by honza
leave us think about it ... as you did ;) ... e.g. in Hungary, LT was signed without being translated into Hungarian lang. (and trust me - it is not similar to many languages - only to Finish and Estonian).

czech honza
12:22 October 9, 2009 by Plowbridge
Wow the all mighty Swedish presidency making demands for action. It a shame that when pressed to impose a tangible strategy for Sweden in face of the largest financial crisis of our age, Reinfeldts government did and have still done absolutely nothing.

I think they are getting a little power crazed and should be ignored. Most countries seem to treat them as the lightweights they are anyhow.
15:48 October 9, 2009 by rumcajs
I don't really like Reinfeldt thaaat much, but Klaus is an idiot too and in this case Reinfeldts is right; he's been giving excuses for not to sing that thing for ages and now when it seems to be ok.... another s**t and start all over again. He's an ultra-right w**er who wasn't even elected by the people. Was elected by the czech FORMER AND FOLLEN GOVERMENT and a bribed oposition politician ... no popular elections or anything ... and now he wanna pull the country's and EU's legs like a little boy.

Honza, what the hell do you wanna us to think about??? Ten čurak je už mimo vole.... je jak male děcko. Je to mormální toto?
18:15 October 9, 2009 by honza
well, rumcajz, finally - i have to admit you are right. strange, i know ... i believed that klaus will have better reasons for not signing the treaty yet. but two sentences about sudety germens ... this is really funny.

LT is too much to me. i was happy about eco. union of wide frontiers - free move of money, people and goods. i just reckon that there was not much said against it, was not acurally explained for what is it good and for what not.

but now - i even do not want to think about it - the pressure from EU side, 2 plebiscites in Ireland (it is similar to a football match - one team looses and wants to play the same match again ... impossible), threat about EU Czech commisar ...

ps: takze jo - je fakt jen malej ufnukanek, kterej musi mit posledni slovo (vetu - v jeho pripade dve) ... god dag rumcajzi
22:16 October 13, 2009 by Ceckel
Klaus has definitely got people talking about the Czech Republic, whether intentionally or not. Check out what people are saying across the board: http://www.newsy.com/videos/united_europe_waiting_on_czech_s_president
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