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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lisbon threaty everyone!

An overview of the path of the Lisbon Treaty trough Europe. I know it looks like too much to readm, but actually I made sure all the articles are seriously shortened. I think it's rather interesting to read how different countries ratified the Treaty and what were their concerns on the way. In any case, 13 of 27 are ready. 14 more to go!
(the articles are chronologically ordered from April to May)
  • Ahern resignation raises EU Treaty hopes (3 April 2008)
  • UK Lords set to rule out EU Treaty referendum
  • Polish Parliament ratifies new EU Treaty
  • Bulgaria ratifies Lisbon Treaty
  • Austrian MPs approve EU Treaty amid protests
  • Majority of Irish still undecided about EU Treaty
  • Barroso courts the Irish ahead of EU Treaty referendum
  • Lisbon Treaty gets Portugal's nod of approval
  • Clear votes for new EU Treaty in Denmark, Austria and Germany
  • New EU Treaty wins approval of Baltic duo ( 9 May 2008)

Ahern resignation raises EU Treaty hopes

3 April 2008

Yesterday's revelation (2 April) that Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is to resign on 6 May could increase the chances of a 'yes' vote in June's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, according to Irish government officials.

In a shock announcement outside the Irish parliament, Ahern outlined his hopes that his resignation would "re-focus the political dynamic in this country". Allegations of corruption have plagued Ahern's third term as prime minister, provoking a slide in his popularity ratings.

There had been widespread fears in Irish political circles that the June referendum would become a vote on Ahern and his alleged financial wrongdoings.Irish government officials, who did not wish to be named, expressed their relief over the announcement, claiming it would refocus Irish voters on the issues at hand in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

"One of the problems with referenda on European treaties is that they tend to become votes on domestic issues," said Jackie Davis, communications director at the European Policy Centre.

Ahern, one of Europe's longest-serving prime ministers with three consecutive election victories and 11 years in power, is best-known internationally for his role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.
He had also been mentioned in European circles as a potential candidate for the newly-created post of EU president in 2009 (EurActiv 09/01/08). source

My comment: Poor guy, I get the feeling he was a scape-goat for Europe. But if he really loves Europe (or he's really messed with some wrong-doing), he's better off the government. And if those corruption stuff are fiction, he could be a great EU president.

UK Lords set to rule out EU Treaty referendum

3 April 2008

Tory hopes for a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty were dealt a serious blow on Tuesday (1 April), as several Liberal Democrats (LibDems) said they would align themselves with the ruling Labour party when the ratification bill is submitted to a vote later this year.

15 LibDem peers signalled their willingness to vote with those of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party during a debate on the Treaty in the House of Lords.

Lingering Tory hopes to push through a referendum had rested on the LibDems as Labour does not have a majority in the House of Lords as it does in the House of Commons, which already approved ratification last month (EurActiv 06/03/08).

The debate in the upper chamber followed well-established lines, with members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party largely speaking in favour of the new Treaty, saying that it provides for a stronger, more efficient and more transparent EU. Referring to the opt-outs the UK secured after much political wrangling, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the Labour leader of the House, said that the treaty "provides the flexibility to ensure that when something is not in the UK's interests, we will be able to choose whether to participate".

"The Lisbon treaty strengthens the framework for co-operation without undermining the role of member states," she pointed out, adding that the EU should not be seen as an alternative to UK foreign policy "but as an important means of implementing it".

The Treaty of Lisbon must be ratified by all 27 EU member states for it to come into force. Thus far, Bulgaria (EurActiv 25/03/08), France (11/02/08), Hungary (18/12/07), Malta (30/01/08), Romania (05/02/08), Slovenia (30/01/08) and most recently Poland have ratified the new Treaty (EurActiv 02/04/08), all by parliamentary vote. Ireland is the only country certain to hold a referendum on the Treaty, scheduled for June. source

My comment:Very correct observation-if we don't like something, we can change it. If there is a document to change. If all there is is a talk, we can do nothing about it. That's why I'm so pro the Treaty, it will give us a point from where to start.

Polish Parliament ratifies new EU Treaty

2 April 2008

The Polish Senate today (2 April) followed the lower house of Parliament in approving a bill to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, ending weeks of dispute between Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the nationalist opposition led by the Kaczynski twins.

The ratification bill passed both chambers by overwhelming majority, with 74 out of 97 senators and 384 out of 452 deputies voting in its favour.

The bill will now be sent to the president, Lech Kaczynski, who said he would ratify the bill "with the greatest pleasure".

Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed this decision, saying this vote "symbolises Poland's confidence in our common European project, and shows that she wants to play an active part in building a Europe, which is strong, democratic and efficient".

A parliamentary majority in favour of the Lisbon Treaty seemed uncertain after Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president's twin brother and current leader of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party had insisted on adding a preamble to the ratification bill that would guarantee Poland's sovereignty over the EU on major decisions. source

My comment:Check out what was the fight for:

Kaczynski had also insisted on an opt-out from the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, obtained at an EU Summit last year when he was in power (EurActiv 19/10/07). The Prime Minister was concerned that the Charter would limit Warsaw's ability to maintain its traditional Roman Catholic family policy, which only recognises marriages between a man and a woman. The President and his twin brother also feared that the Charter could open the door for Germans to reclaim individual ownership rights on land granted to Poland after World War II. source

Funny, ain't it? Gay marriages to be the problem of the European constitution.

Bulgaria ratifies Lisbon Treaty

25 March 2008

The Bulgarian Parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favour of the new EU Treaty, bringing the total number of countries having ratified the text to six.

199 MPs supported the treaty while 15 opposed its ratification in last Friday's vote in Parliament (21 March).

Speaking ahead of the vote, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev hailed the new treaty, declaring that "a new foundation and instruments have been found to make the EU more effective, more transparent and more accessible".

The Slovenian Presidency and the Commission welcomed the decision, with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praising "the commitment given to early approval of the treaty by both the Bulgarian Government and Parliament".

The new treaty is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2009 provided that all 27 member states have ratified it by then. source

My comment:The funniest thing is that only Bulgarians didn't know about the Ratification. I of course applaud that, but I didn't know it, not before reading it in EuroAktiv. And I watch TV! Weird. Anyway, this is good, good work Serge :)

Austrian MPs approve EU Treaty amid protests

10 April 2008

The lower House of the Austrian Parliament voted on Wednesday (9 April) to approve the Lisbon Treaty, rejecting calls from two minority far-right groups to hold a referendum on the matter.

The treaty was approved by the lower House of Parliament on Wednesday (9 April) by a wide coalition of Social Democrats, Conservatives and the opposition Green Party.

The vote took place despite the opposition of two minority far-right groups – the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Federal Future Party of Austria (BZÖ) - which called for a referendum to be held on the issue. About 1,500 protesters from the "Save Austria" movement took the streets of Vienna on Tuesday, handing in a petition signed by over 100,000 people to demand a referendum.

The eight-hour Parliamentary debate was colourful, the German news agency DPA reported, with opposition deputies waving Austrian football scarves as a sign of protest. But ultimately, the treaty was easily approved by a sweeping majority of 151 votes to 28.

Austria created EU history when the far-right FPÖ leader, Jörg Haider, entered the government after winning a landslide victory in the 1999 general election. EU heads of states panicked and isolated Vienna diplomatically, threatening to use the Article 7external of the Nice Treaty which allows EU member states, voting by a qualified majority, to suspend the rights of a country in case of "a serious and persistent breach of fundamental rights" (EurActiv 11/01/06).

Under pressure, Haider stepped down as the party chairman in 2000, forming the new BZÖ party and bringing an end to Austria's diplomatic isolation. source

My comment: Good that the Neonazzi are not that stupid to not ratify the Treaty.

Majority of Irish still undecided about EU Treaty

16 April 2008

60% of Irish people are still weighing their options for the 12 June referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, according to a poll published ahead of a visit to Ireland this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Only 28% of Irish citizens are certain to vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, while 12% said they would reject it, according to the poll, published by the Irish Sun newspaper on Monday (14 April).

But although the number of undecided voters has decreased from 72% to 60% compared to a similar poll in December, the outcome of the referendum is still far from certain.

An earlier poll in March showed a much lower proportion of undecided voters, with 31% saying they were unsure about how they would vote (EurActiv 03/03/08).

The indecisiveness seems largely due to the lack of knowledge about the treaty: Only 6% said they fully understand it, while 25% said they had no understanding of it at all and 40% very little understanding, according to the poll.

In an attempt to rally support for the treaty, Merkel delivered a pro-European speech at the National Forum of Europe in Dublin yesterday (14 April), saying that "the Lisbon Treaty offers the best preparation for Europe's future" and allows the EU to "continue to flourish".

The Lisbon Treaty would increase the power of smaller EU states such as Ireland, the chancellor pointed out, as a new majority voting system allows them to block bigger countries such as Germany. The new majority voting system is rather "a problem for the bigger states," she said.

Addressing the sceptics, Merkel added: "I can only say that if everything remains as it is now, your concerns will definitely not be better addressed."

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told journalists that Merkel's speech was the kick-off for a pro-European campaign in Ireland this week, followed by Commission President Barroso visiting on Thursday (17 April).

The pro-European Ahern said he will step down in May to fight allegations of financial irregularities but his likely successor, former foreign minister Brian Cowen, has pledged to make securing a "Yes" vote his top priority (EurActiv 03/04/08). source

My comment: Isn't it great to have Angela Merkel to come in person and speak in your country? I'd say it is and I sincerely hope Ireland will say Yes to the Treaty!

Barroso courts the Irish ahead of EU Treaty referendum

18 April 2008

Three days after the German Chancellor, Commission President José Manuel Barroso paid a visit to Ireland in a move seen as an attempt to rally support for pro-EU forces ahead of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on 12 June.

Speaking at the National Forum of Europe yesterday (17 April), Barroso said he had not come here to "try to tell you how to vote". But he expressed his hope that Irish citizens would vote in favour of the new Treaty.

"The eyes of Europe, if not the world, will be on you on 12 June," the EU chief said, referring to the fact that for the treaty to enter into force, it will require ratification by all 27 member states. Ireland is the only one set to hold a referendum on this issue.

The latest poll revealed 60% of the Irish were still undecided on how to vote, with only 28% 'certain' to vote in favour of the new Treaty (EurActiv 16/04/08).

Referring to Irish sensibilities over their corporate tax policy, Barroso stressed that its tax sovereignty would not be affected by the new Treaty. "No member state, either under the current rules or under the Lisbon Treaty, can be obliged to accept a tax proposal to which it objects," he said.

Meanwhile, some 10,000 farmers were protesting in the streets of Dublin against EU trade liberalisation, which they claim will destroy the industry. Industry representatives made it clear that the outcome of the negotiations by Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson at a UN Conference in May will have a huge impact on the way farmers vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

But Barroso emphasised the need to conclude talks on a new world trade agreement, saying it would be in the interest of Irish farmers to see a quick resolution. source

My comment: No comment, really! What has the Treaty to do with the market liberalisation? It would happen with or without the Treaty...

Lisbon Treaty gets Portugal's nod of approval

24 April 2008

The Portuguese Parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favour of ratifying the EU's new Reform Treaty – named after the country's capital, where it was signed by European leaders last December.

Despite 'no' votes from the Communist party, Green Party and Left Bloc of extreme leftists, on 23 April Portugal became the ninth EU country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

The three leftist groups voted against ratifying the text, arguing that it goes against Portugal's sovereign interests and should therefore be subject to a popular referendum. But they were largely outnumbered and, in the end, Parliament approved the text by 208 votes to 21.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed his country's approval of the Treaty and commended the Portuguese government's role in garnering a European consensus on a follow-up to the rejected EU constitution.

"This is another important step towards our objective of a new treaty in force by 1 January 2009," said Barroso. source

My comment: :) One more!

Clear votes for new EU Treaty in Denmark, Austria and Germany

25 April 2008

The ratification process for the new Treaty gained momentum yesterday (24 April) as the Danish and Austrian parliaments approved the text, which also easily passed Germany's lower House. The votes in Vienna and Copenhagen mean the Treaty has now been adopted in 11 out of 27 countries.

In Denmark, parliament ratified the new Treaty with a clear 90-25 majority, while 64 MPs, including Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, were absent during the vote. The populist Danish People's Party, which has otherwise backed Rasmussen's minority government in recent years, voted against ratification.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed the support for the Treaty in Austria and Denmark, saying "the ratification process is now well advanced and I look forward to its successful conclusion".

Meanwhile, the lower House of the German parliament, the Bundestag, approved the treaty with 515 MPs voting in favour and only 58 against it - a considerably higher show of support than the required two-thirds majority. A second and final vote is now expected to take place in Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, next month.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the treaty as 'good for Europe' and a 'win for Germany'. It would provide a solid basis for Europe to move forward, said the chancellor, who was one of the main driving forces towards agreeing the treaty.

Bavarian MEP Peter Gauweiler of the Christian Socialist Party (CSU) was among the few not to join the pro-European chorus, announcing that he planned to take legal action against ratification of the Treaty before the country's highest court. "What the Treaty brings Brussels in terms of new competences is not compatible with our democratic principles," Gauweiler told the Saarbrücker Zeitung. Simlar feelings are being voiced by the eurosceptic Czech parliament. It asked the nation's Constitutional Court yesterday (24 April) to review whether or not the Lisbon Treaty is constitutional. The proposal was initiated by the right-wing Civic Democrats of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who founded the party, is also a critic of the treaty but has pledged not to block its ratification. source

My comment: I don't understand. The Treaty is against which democratic principle???

New EU Treaty wins approval of Baltic duo

9 May 2008

The Lisbon Treaty yesterday (8 May) passed through the Latvian and the Lithuanian Parliaments by large majorities, increasing the number of countries having approved the text to 13 out of 27.

In Latvia, 70 out of 74 MPs voted in favour of the Treaty, while Lithuania's assembly approved it with an 83 to five majority amid 23 abstentions. The document now only requires the signature of each country's president to be finally adopted.

Lithuania, which joined the EU in 2004 together with Latvia and eight other countries, was the first member state to ratify the ill-fated EU constitution in November 2004, months before it was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands.

The EU welcomed the steps, with the Slovenian Presidency saying that "each ratification is an important step forward on the path to the ultimate goal".

The last of the three EU Baltic states, Estonia, is also expected to follow suit this month.

Apart from Latvia and Lithuania, the Lisbon Treaty has already been ratified by Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovak Republic, Portugal, Denmark and Austria. source

My comment: I sincerely hope 13 won't be a fatal number here, but a lucky one! God Speed Dear Treaty!

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