“Absurd and surreal.” That is how European Commission president José Manuel Barroso sees the notion of going through the Lisbon Treaty ratification process all over again.
But that could be the only way around Czech president Vaclav Klaus’ demand for an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Barroso urged Klaus to overcome his objections and sign the treaty so it can come into force. He said after talks with Czech prime minister Jan Fischer: “We certainly hope that no artificial obstacles are raised at this time, bearing in mind that the democratic approval of the treaty by the Czech parliament has already taken place.” Klaus cannot put pen to paper until the Czech Constitutional Court hears a challenge from a group of eurosceptic senators. A date for that hearing has been set for October 27, with a verdict possible immediately or soon after. The Court has already rejected one complaint against the treaty and legal experts expect it to do so again. That would leave the rights charter opt-out as the last remaining sticking point. The Czech prime minister has said he will seek a compromise as long as Klaus doesn’t impose any more last minute conditions.