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Lisbon Treaty

DPA news agency (kjb)November 26, 2008

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has rejected a complaint against the EU's reform treaty. The decision clears the way for the Czechs -- and perhaps another member state -- to ratify the document.

Hands lifting up an EU flag
The Czech Republic is the last EU country to voteImage: AP

The ruling by the 15-member court in Brno allows the Czech parliament to vote on the Lisbon Treaty, aimed at streamlining the way the EU works, before the Czech Republic assumes the bloc's rotating presidency in January.

Speaking for the court on Wednesday, November 26, Justice Vojen Guttler said that the EU integration foreseen in the treaty was not proceeding "in a radical manner that would translate into a loss of sovereignty, but…[as] an evolutionary process."

The Czech Republic's euroskeptic president, Vaclav Klaus, had argued the treaty was unconstitutional because it violated Czech national sovereignty.

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus
Klaus is known for being a euro-criticImage: AP

"The decision-making will be handed over to the Union's hands, which are not subjected to a sufficient democratic control," Klaus said.

The Czech Republic is the last of the 27 EU members that has yet to vote on the treaty, which has been stalled since Irish voters rejected in a June referendum. Ireland is the only member state to have voters decide directly on the treaty.

The pact must be ratified by all member states to become valid.

All eyes on Ireland

'No to Lisbon' written on a wall in Dublin, Ireland
The treaty was rejected in Ireland in JuneImage: AP

Wednesday's ruling not only clears the way for the Czech Republic to approve the treaty. It may also help break the impasse over the agreement in Ireland.

A special committee of the Irish parliament is set to debate a report arguing that it would be legal to hold a second public referendum on the treaty.

The draft report suggests that Irish citizens vote on the same text they rejected this summer but with a number of clarifying declarations on controversial issues.

Such issues include Ireland's neutrality and the possibility that all member states retain their commissioners -- something not foreseen under the Lisbon agreement.

In an interview with a Czech news agency on Monday, Ireland's Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche, said that a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was "inevitable."