Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The road to the Lisbon Treaty is now open

Adelina Marini, October 30, 2009

Late last night the EU leaders accepted the wish of the Czech Republic to be included in Protocol 30 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the country an opt-out not to apply the European Human Rights Charter together with Poland and the UK. However, the agreement will be enforced only if Prague will ratify the Treaty and if the Czech Constitutional court would accept the concession. Besides, the European Council has decided that the agreement will not apply to neighbouring countries, meaning Slovakia which also announced that if Prague succeeds it will pose the same requirement.

At a press conference last night in Brussels, the president of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said that now all obstacles to the Lisbon Treaty entering into force are removed: "You know this new Treaty reminds me of a marathon but a marathon with hurdles. And I believe that tonight we have removed the last political hurdle. So we will soon, very soon have the Lisbon Treaty into force, provided, of course, the Constitutional court in the Czech republic does not object to it".

On his behalf the Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country is now presiding the European Council, has assured that there will be no additional ratifying procedure because of the change in Protocol 30.

And regarding the other issue that the EU leaders were expected to agree upon - the nominations for the post president of the European Council as envisaged in the Lisbon Treaty, the Swedish premier explained that unless the Treaty enter into force, no names can be discussed. He also assured that the moment when the Czech Republic will ratify the document and president Vaclav Klaus would sign it, immediate consultations will begin for the name of the future EU president.

*Protocol 30 is an additional protocol to the Lisbon Treaty, giving Poland and the UK an opt-out not to fully apply the European Human Rights Charter if it would contradict to their national legislation. But according to the Financial Times the Protocol 30 does not allow Poland and the UK to evade their legal duty to treat the Charter as binding. Nor does it prevent the European Court of Justice, wielding the Charter, from reaching judgments that affect directly the British or Polish state or citizen.