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Europe

Finnish, Estonian Parliaments Ratify the Lisbon Treaty

The Finnish and Estonian parliaments ratified the European Union's Lisbon Treaty Wednesday, June 11.

Portuguese Prime Minister and EU President, José Sócrates, together with Portuguese Foreign Afffairs Minister, Luis Amado, during the signing ceremony of the Treaty of Lisbon at the Jeronimos Monastery, in Lisbon

The Treaty has been slowly passing through the 27 nations but could still come unstuck

The ratifications brought to 17 the number of EU members to have ratified the treaty, while the Greek parliament was set to endorse the agreement in a midnight vote ahead of Ireland's referendum on the issue Thursday.

The 200-seat Finnish parliament approved the treaty by a 151-27 vote, while 21 members were absent. Finnish President Tarja Halonen must sign the treaty within three months for it to be ratified.

In Estonia, the ratification bill passed with 91 votes in favor and one against.

"Today's ratification decisions by the Estonian and Finnish parliaments are sending a pro-European message of encouragement to Ireland where a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is to be held on Thursday," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said.

Decision welcomed by the Commission

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has welcomed the decision by the two parliaments.

"The treaty has now been ratified by 17 member states. The two votes today send a strong signal, confirming the desire for the treaty to be ratified in good time to enter into force by January 1 2009." he said.

"This would allow the union to turn the institutional page and concentrate 100 per cent on delivering on the expectations of Europe's peoples." he added.

Greece's 300-member parliament is currently debating on the treaty and will vote during a roll call vote at midnight.

The treaty is expected to get passed by Greece's parliament as both the ruling conservative government and main opposition Socialist party are both in favor.

The treaty seeks to reduce the number of members of the European Commission and strengthen the authority of its president and foreign policy chief. It also seeks to increase policy areas in which decisions could be made by majority votes rather than requiring unanimous approval.

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