The upper house of the Czech parliament has begun debate on whether to ratify the European Union’s Lisbon reform treaty.
Senior members of the country’s biggest party, the right-wing Civic Democrats, say they are confident the text will be approved today. The lower house voted in favour in mid-February. The Czech Republic is one of only a few countries that have not yet ratified the treaty, which is designed to overcome stalemates in decision-making. Today’s vote comes only weeks after a non-partisan interim prime minister was sworn in, following the fall of the country’s centre-right coalition government. The text has run into opposition from some Civic Democrat politicians, as well as the Czech President Vaclav Klaus. If adopted by the EU, the Lisbon Treaty would change voting rights and give the bloc the equivalent of a long-term president and a foreign affairs chief.