Czech president claims Ireland concessions change Lisbon Treaty | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.06.2009
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Czech president claims Ireland concessions change Lisbon Treaty

With its controversial six-month EU presidency coming to an end, the Czech Republic's eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus made sure Saturday that the incoming Swedes knew what to expect from the Lisbon Treaty debate.

Czech Republic's President Vaclav Klaus

Klaus accused the EU of "squaring the circle" on Lisbon

Klaus said that the European Union was "squaring the circle" with guarantees granted to Ireland before its vote on the treaty.

"I find this amusing and above all undignified," Klaus, whose country holds the EU presidency until the end of this month, told Saturday's edition of the Pravo daily. "We all know that it's impossible to square the circle, but it is exactly what these countries have tried to do. To say that the concessions don't change anything about the Lisbon Treaty is silly," he added.

"Although it is written in the treaty that not all countries ... will have their own commissioner, now suddenly it is promised that they will," Klaus said. "Every normal human being, a first grade pupil, would know that it is a change and that somebody is promising it. So it is a change," he said.

The Czech president's comments were likely to open a debate on whether the treaty's ratification process should be renewed just over a week before Sweden takes the reigns.

Ireland deal raises ratification concerns

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) hold banners 'Lisbon NO'

The Lisbon Treaty is already a deeply unpopular text

The European Union agreed to offer the Irish legal guarantees on national sovereignty at a summit in Brussels on Friday. The guarantees ensured the EU's reforming text did not hamper Ireland's military neutrality, taxation system and abortion laws.

The guarantees should help secure Irish voters' backing for the treaty – after rejecting the text a year ago – which aims to streamline the 27-nation bloc's decision-making process and give it a greater say in global affairs.

The deal struck on Friday guarantees the status of a treaty protocol but will not affect the ratification of the reforms in other EU countries.

Some countries, such as Britain, Sweden and the Czech Republic expressed some concerns that giving the Irish a legally-binding protocol may reopen the ratification process in some member states which had already approved the treaty.

Ahead of the summit, Klaus – who has refused to sign off on his parliament's endorsement until the Irish vote again – insisted that the guarantees be ratified by the Czech parliament too, or he would refuse to approve it.

But Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who chaired the summit, said the guarantees had a treaty status and did not "inspire any desire to reopen the ratification process."

nda/AFP/Reuters

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