The European Union’s leaders are optimistic they can get the long-delayed Lisbon Treaty finally rolling. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fisher, at a summit in Brussels, has said he is hopeful.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus wants an opt-out from the treaty’s Fundamental Rights Charter, fearing ethnic Germans could use it to reclaim land they lost in Czechoslovakia after World War II. Klaus has withheld his final signature, and now current EU presidency Sweden has drafted a compromise. Only once Lisbon’s in force can a new longterm EU president be chosen. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said: “Without this clarification on the ratification itself, I will not open on consultation on names, I will not even have an informal discussion on names, because there is no use to open up a process if you don’t know when it tends.” Just days ago Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said he- wouldn’t say no if others put him forward as a candidate. British former premier Tony Blair has long been considered a frontrunner in spite of his record on Iraq and the UK’s patchy EU performance. London is behind him. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “Tony Blair is an excellent candidate, I always said that, and we’ve been entirely consistent that Tony Blair will be the British candidate for this job and we would give him support.” Climate change funding is another major summit concern. A negotiating mandate for December talks in Copenhagen needs to be agreed, including huge financial support for developing nations. Environment and charity groups have been urging the leaders to agree to give generously, but nine eastern EU countries want their smaller hard-hit economies more taken into account.