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Lisbon goes virtual; will Klaus face 'reality'?

brussels bureau

Lisbon goes virtual; will Klaus face 'reality'?


Jan Fisher’s airplane had a breakdown, says the Czech Prime Minister’s office says, but that has not stopped him from conferring with senior EU officials in Brussels by videolink with Prague. Questions on implementing the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty on institutional reform would not be put off.

Current EU Presidency Sweden’s diplomatic dexterity is being put to the test. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said: “It should be clear that we are actually moving in unknown territory. It was foreseen in preparation of the Swedish Presidency that we should already be acting under the Lisbon Treaty. It was foreseen that it should be in place by 1 January. So now we are showing flexibility and activity, showing leadership in a situation which is actually unknown.” The procedures for ratification of the treaty by the 27 EU countries did not anticipate a head of state wielding a de facto veto on it, as anti-Lisbon Czech eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus is doing. But after a court challenge by some like-minded senators is examined, this European Parliament member muses that his options could narrow considerably. MEP Edward McMillan-Scott said: “Once the Czech Constitutional Court (has) examined the Treaty for the third time, I can’t see that anything has changed; it has not changed. So there is no justification for any further delay. The only question would be whether Vaclav Klaus is prepared to sacrifice his own political career by refusing to sign, because he will be impeached, or there will be a vote of confidence in the Czech chambers. I mean he faces that reality too.” Both the upper and lower houses of the Czech parliament have approved the treaty, and Ireland’s approval in a referendum last Friday cleared away one of the last hurdles. Key EU presidential and foreign relations posts, defined in the treaty, and a new college of European Commissioners have to be decided. That remains in suspense as long as Klaus keeps his heels dug in.

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