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Judges 'Czeching' treaty constitutionality

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Judges 'Czeching' treaty constitutionality

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The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic is due to rule whether the European Union’s Lisbon treaty is in line with the country’s constitution. If that falls as expected this Tuesday, it may be some comfort for Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, as Prague prepares to take its turn running the EU presidency. The French hand it over in January.

The Czechs’ foot-dragging, some of their EU partners fear, would undermine their EU presidency’s credibility just when Europe needs strong leadership to fight the economic crisis. The president is a eurosceptic. Vaclav Klaus has refused to say if he will sign the treaty should it be ratified. The process would need that, but he has signalled he is in no hurry. A positive court ruling would untie the Czech parliament’s hands for ratification, but it could still be tricky for Topolanek. His country is the only EU member that has not put the treaty to a vote. Twenty-five parliaments have approved it. Only Ireland has rejected it, in a referrendum. Its leaders are considering ways to amend that.