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Polish President Lech Kaczynski meets French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy
President Lech Kaczynski, right, has become more positive about the EU treatyImage: AP

Polish Treaty Boost

DW staff (nda)
October 15, 2007

EU leaders hope to sign off on the EU treaty, the compromise text that replaces the bloc's failed constitution, in Lisbon this week. Poland, despite its opposition to many aspects of the treaty, is confident of success.


EU leaders are meeting on Monday, Oct. 15, in Luxembourg hoping that Polish calls for last-minute changes to the bloc's reform treaty will not prove fatal. They're also crossing their fingers that Poland's stated optimism about the treaty's chances is on the mark.

The EU's future treaty received an optimistic boost last week when Polish President Lech Kaczynski, leader of a country with many reservations about the text, said that there was a "95-98 percent" chance of an agreement on the treaty at the forthcoming Lisbon summit being held on Oct. 18-19.

Kaczynski told reporters that "all we had considered as the problems of the treaty belong more to the past than the present."

"I am convinced that we will be able to come to an agreement," he added

Polish reservations date back to June

The progress of the treaty has been hindered since it was first hammered into shape at a European Union summit in Brussels in June during Germany's presidency of the 27-country bloc.

German Chancellor Anglean Merkel and Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Berlin in June
Merkel's job in June was made difficult by KaczynskiImage: AP

Poland's strong opposition to the system under which voting rights are distributed throughout the EU according to the treaty led to marathon negotiations overseen by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Poles succeeded in delaying the introduction of the double majority voting system -- which Warsaw opposes for fear it will give big countries too much decision-making power -- until 2014, after which it would be phased in over three years.

Fundamental rights charter also a problem

Kaczynski acknowledged that Poland had reservations about voting rights and a charter of fundamental rights but said that these objections could be dealt with in "a separate declaration."

But he maintained that Poland would oppose the current plan for a European charter of fundamental rights, saying "Poland's point of view culturally is different from the majority of other European countries."

He said the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation could not "for example accept marriages of people of the same sex."

Kaczynski and Sarkozy face the press
Poland hopes France can help cure its EU headachesImage: AP

Kaczynski added that Warsaw's demand for a permanent post at the European Court also remained "a considerable problem" but underlined that this could be "resolved" with the help of other countries, notably France.

Despite his confidence over an agreement in Lisbon this week, Kaczynski hinted that legislative elections in his country, due to take place two days after the EU summit, would not make his task in negotiating on an EU level any easier.

"It would have been better if the summit took place after the elections," he said.

Poland called new legislative elections for Oct. 21 after the collapse of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's fractious coalition with a far-right party and a rural populist movement.

EU hopeful

The EU leaders gather for a photo at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in May
What started in Berlin is hoped to be completed in LisbonImage: AP

Portugal, the current holder of the six-month EU rotating presidency, is confident the final version of the treaty will be approved at the summit in Lisbon before being ratified in all member states in 2008 and coming into force on Jan. 1, 2009.

EU leaders want the treaty to come into force by the Jan. 1 deadline so that public confidence in the European project is not undermined during elections to the European Parliament that year.

The new treaty, the compromise text which replaces the much-maligned and doomed EU constitution, is seen as vital to streamlining the workings of a union which has expanded from 15 to 27 member states since 2004.

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