CZECH President Vaclav Klaus set out his terms yesterday for signing the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty, demanding an exemption to protect Prague from post-war property claims and safeguard the sovereignty of the judiciary.
Klaus’s demands further complicate the EU’s efforts to implement reforms to give the bloc more global clout, even though he will be the only EU leader who has not ratified the treaty once the Polish president signs it today.
Klaus said the Czech government should follow the example of Britain and Poland, which won opt-outs on the application of some of the provisions of a Charter of Fundamental Rights which will be given binding force when the treaty is ratified.
“Before ratification, the Czech Republic must, additionally at least, negotiate a similar exemption,” Klaus told reporters.
“I believe that this exemption can be resolved quickly.”
Klaus made his comments during a visit to Prague by European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek, the latest effort by EU leaders to secure Klaus’s signature.
Klaus says the treaty would create a European superstate that gives too much power to Brussels, and has refused to ratify it even though the Czech parliament has approved it.
Klaus said he feared that claimants of property, confiscated from some three million Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, could circumvent the Czech judicial system under the Lisbon treaty and instead go directly to the highest EU court.
“This will allow [claimants] to circumvent Czech courts and place, for example, property claims by people expelled after World War II directly at the European Court of Justice,” he said.
Poland’s desire for the provision of an opt-out arrangement was also prompted partly by fears of German property claims, as well as by efforts to safeguard conservative family laws.
Britain did not want provisions such as a broadly defined right to strike – the subject of bitter labour conflicts in the 1980s – to be imposed on it from outside.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has ruled out any change to the treaty to accommodate Klaus.
EU diplomats familiar with the bloc’s legal process said only the Czech government, not Klaus, could ask the EU’s 27 leaders to approve a so-called “political declaration” at a summit this month which could be attached to the treaty.
This would be similar to the legal guarantees given to Ireland after its voters rejected the treaty in its first referendum in 2008.
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