All eyes on Ireland for fate of Lisbon Treaty

Updated: 2007-12-13 11:12

Missiroli said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have no choice but to stick to parliamentary approval as a referendum would almost certainly kill the Lisbon Treaty.

Brown would not yield to conservative pressure to put the text to a referendum unless something dramatic happens within his Labor Party because a veto of the Lisbon Treaty would not only be disastrous for the EU, but also for Brown himself, said Missiroli.

Poland had pledged to hold a referendum. But the newly installed government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has announced that it will seek parliamentary approval instead.

The Czech Republic, which was tough in negotiations for the Lisbon Teaty, will not be a problem either as the country holds EU presidency in the first half of 2009, said Missiroli.

"They cannot afford to be disruptive if they want to be a credible (EU) presidency," he said.

Both France and the Netherlands, where voters rejected the EU Constitution in 2005, have announced that the Lisbon Treaty will be ratified in parliament.

The veto in these two countries stalled the constitutional process and as a result EU leaders were forced instead to aim for a new treaty -- the Lisbon Treaty -- to address institutional reform.

France has to change the constitution in order to ratify the Lisbon Treaty as the French constitution has reference to the EU constitution.

Although French President Nicolas Sarkozy will need the support of opposition Socialist Party, there are no signs that the Socialists will work against the treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty was agreed upon by EU heads of state and government at an October summit in Lisbon.

The treaty was designed to make EU decision-making more efficient by revamping its institutions. It installs a new foreign policy chief for the EU and a long-term president for the European Council to replace the current six-month rotating presidency. The treaty also introduces the double majority voting system in decision-making, reduces the size of the executive European Commission, and gives national parliaments more power.

Chronology: Key developments leading to Lisbon Treaty

December 2001: EU leaders at their summit in Laeken, Brussels, set out the process for an EU Constitution;

February 2002: The European Convention tasked to draft an EU Constitution meet for the first time;

July 2003: The text of a draft EU Constitution is presented;

June 2004: The draft constitution is approved by EU leaders;

October 2004: The EU Constitution is signed by EU leaders in Rome;

Summer 2005: The EU Constitution is vetoed in referendums in France and the Netherlands, stalling ratification process;

March 2007: EU leaders agree to relaunch institution reform envisaged by the EU Constitution;

June 2007: EU leaders approve a mandate for the negotiations of a new treaty -- called the Reform Treaty, abandoning the name of constitution;

July 2007: Negotiations on Reform Treaty are launched in Lisbon;

October 2007: EU leaders agree on the text of Reform Treaty and decide that it be named the Treaty of Lisbon as it would be signed in December 2007 in the Portuguese capital.


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