MEPs suspend debate on how to implement Lisbon Treaty


MEPS HAVE suspended talks on how to implement the Lisbon Treaty in the aftermath of the Irish No vote, but will continue to press for its ratification in all other EU states.

The European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee agreed yesterday to propose a resolution to the next plenary session in July urging ratification to continue. It will also consider sending a delegation to Ireland.

Committee chairman Jo Leinen, a German MEP, said Europe would lose a lot if the Lisbon Treaty was not implemented. But he proposed suspending talks on how to implement it until October, when Brian Cowen is expected to report back to EU leaders on the reasons for the No vote and how he plans to proceed.

British MEP Andrew Duff, who helped draft the treaty, said the Government would have to be warned that a second No vote would have serious implications.

"We must make clear to the Irish that there are some consequences for the union should the Irish fail to carry an agreement on a reworked package."

He also suggested that various contingency plans in case of a second No vote or a decision not to hold a referendum should be proposed by the committee to EU leaders at their October summit.

"Cowen ought not to be permitted to ask for a further delay in October because procrastination and a further period of reflection would be a disaster," said Mr Duff.

So far 19 national parliaments have ratified the treaty, but potential problems remain in the Czech Republic and Poland, where both presidents are committed eurosceptics. Czech president Vaclav Klaus declared the treaty "dead" after the Irish No vote, while Polish president Lech Kaczynski has also adopted a hardline attitude and is now threatening not to sign the treaty, according to some of his closest advisers.

"There are a lot of indications that . . . the Lisbon Treaty today doesn't exist in a legal sense because one of the [EU] countries rejected its ratification," presidential aide Michal Kaminski told Poland's Radio ZET, according to the EU observer media website.

Nine Polish liberal and Socialist MEPs in an open letter last week also urged Mr Kaczynski to sign. But socialist SLD party leader Wojciech Olejniczak warned in Sunday's radio debate that the president may not play ball.

"Let's not deceive ourselves, the president won't sign this treaty. The president is an opportunist," Mr Olejniczak said.