LISBON -- European Parliament (EP) President Hans-Gert Poettering on Thursday asked the European leaders to put their "maximum political determination" on the prompt ratification of the Lisbon Treaty signed earlier in the day.
He said the signing of the treaty is "a wonderful present for the European Union (EU)," adding that he hoped it would be ratified and enforced on Jan. 1, 2009.
"While signing the Lisbon Treaty, the heads of state and government, 50 years after the signing of the Rome Treaty, seek to help the European Union advance in a common road," Poettering said.
The EU member countries seek to begin the treaty's ratification in January, 2008 and expect its ratification by Dec. 31 next year.
Of the 27 EU countries, only Ireland is obliged by its constitution to carry out a referendum.
Poettering thanked Portuguese Prime Minister and EU President Jose Socrates for the success of the conference.
He also highlighted the importance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to obtain a fundamental accord on the treaty in the June summit in Brussels.
"In early 2007, there was talk about a crisis that cannot be ignored by the European Union" and now the bloc "emerges stronger from that crisis," Poettering said.