Klaus vows never to sign Lisbon Treaty on Moscow visit

CZECH president Vaclav Klaus rubbed salt into EU wounds yesterday by choosing Moscow to reveal that he never intends to sign the Lisbon Treaty.

The eurosceptic, who earlier this year said the union was just another USSR, made it plain that his latest objection to the treaty is not his only one.

He dropped a bombshell last week by insisting that the Czechs get an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the basis that it could be used by Germans to claim land they held in the country before the Second World War.

Despite the fact that the charter, part of the treaty, cannot be applied retrospectively and that Germany has already agreed that no claims will be made, Klaus says he wants a cast iron guarantee from other EU leaders.

Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who heads up the caretaker government, has said he would want a guarantee from the president that he would sign in return for the opt-out. Then they would ask fellow EU leaders at their summit in two weeks’ time to agree to the opt-out and legally binding agreement. Leaders will be reluctant to agree to this unless there is a cast iron guarantee from Klaus that he will immediately sign the treaty.

He is constitutionally obliged to do so, but can delay until his last day in office four years from now.

But Klaus’s latest pronouncement made it clear that irrespective of what concessions are given, he will not sign despite both houses of the Czech government having passed the treaty. “I explained that I fear, and I am not the only person to fear, a deepening of European Union integration,” he told journalists after meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow. Klaus views the treaty as deepening EU integration.

The summit is likely to put pressure on the Czechs to sort out their own affairs, but the internal political struggle in the republic is complex.

Observers say Klaus – a past master at dividing and conquering – wants to destroy the CDU, the party he founded and fell out with, and which was in power until some months ago. He established a new party but in the internal struggle the Socialists have become his allies, despite not beingeurosceptic up to now. Many believe nothing will be resolved until after the CDU annual conference in November.

In the meantime, the Czech Constitutional Court is to hear the latest challenge to the treaty on October 27, two days before the summit. They could give their judgment immediately or hold it. Eurosceptic CDU senators who took the case have said they will now lodge additional objections, which could further delay the court.

In the meantime, work on the technicalities for the changes under the Lisbon Treaty continues behind the scenes. The most complex is the new External Action Service, a type of diplomatic service, that combines staff from the member states, council and the commission into a new body designed to give the EU a morecohesive voice on theworld stage.


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