Fresh challenge to Lisbon Treaty

 

A group of Czech senators has lodged a new constitutional court challenge against the Lisbon Treaty, alleging that it turns the EU into a “super state”.

Part of the appeal rests on a claim that the guarantees on the treaty given to Ireland by EU leaders should have been ratified by the Czech parliament. The senators hope the appeal will delay ratification until a Conservative government can win power in Britain and kill the treaty.

Senator Jiri Oberfalzer, a close ally of Eurosceptic Czech president Vaclav Klaus who helped prepare the court challenge, said that the constitutional court should state whether the EU would still be an international organisation or if Lisbon creates a new EU “super state”.

The appeal asks the court to examine whether the treaty as a whole is compatible with the Czech constitution. It also challenges the legality of the guarantees provided by EU leaders to Ireland.

“The senators claim the Irish guarantees are an international treaty which would need the consent of both chambers of the Czech parliament,” Tomas Langasek, general secretary of the court, told The Irish Times yesterday.

A previous appeal against the six most controversial parts of the treaty was heard by the Czech court last year. After several months the court ruled that these elements of the Lisbon Treaty were compatible with the Czech constitution.

The Czech government sought to reassure its EU partners yesterday, stating that it still expected to ratify the treaty this year. “I believe the constitutional court has already expressed its views on the most important six issues in the treaty and there is no problem with the compatibility with the Czech constitution,” said Stefan Fule, European affairs minister. “So I believe we can meet our commitment that we made to EU leaders in June this year to ratify the treaty by the end of the year.”

He said the Czech failure to ratify the treaty had “inflicted a certain amount of damage” on the country’s reputation. “I hope very much in the days and weeks to come we don’t worsen our situation,” he said.

But he warned it would be counterproductive for his government or any EU state to try to pressure Mr Klaus to sign the treaty. “I strongly believe that the president will add his signature once the court rules,” he added.

Mr Klaus has said he won’t sign the treaty until the Irish vote Yes and the constitutional court makes a final ruling. But treaty opponents across Europe hope he will delay his signature until next year’s British election, which the Tories are expected to win.