Ahead of the summit of EU heads of state and government on 19-20 July, the foreign ministers have been entrusted by their governments with the task of trying to come up with a face-saving formula to keep ambitious plans outlined in an 89-page 18-month programme for the French, Czech and Swedish presidencies afloat, diplomatic sources said.
Some of the plans contained in the programme, such as widespread reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, a European Security Strategy and a European Security and Defence Policy now look highly unlikely in the context of the crisis following the failed referendum.
While the French Presidency is expected to push for a 'business as usual' agenda, the Czechs may prefer to proceed with a slimmed-down agenda, which they had already drafted before the referendum (EurActiv 3/06/08).
Klaus: 'Ratification cannot continue'
While French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday called on the EU countries to continue ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, his Czech colleague Vaclav Klaus called the Irish referendum result a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue". His view was echoed in the Czech senate.
The Lisbon Treaty ratification process has already been slowed down in the Czech Republic, where at present, the Czech Constitutional Court is analysing the treaty at the request of the Senate, the upper house of the Czech Parliament, in a move initiated by the governing Civic Democratic Party (ODS).
The eurosceptic, right-wing, neo-liberal ODS of Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek seems concerned that the Czech EU Presidency, starting on 1 January 2009, will be overshadowed by the future permanent EU Council President.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy is flying to Prague today to hold urgent talks with the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Slovakia and Hungary have ratified the Treaty, while the Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he will fulfill the last step before ratification, despite the referendum result in Ireland. In April both chambers of the Polish Parliament ratified the treaty, the last step being the signature by the president.
British position not rock solid
But the Czech Republic may not be the only country to undermine the European Commission's position that the Lisbon Treaty is still "alive" and thus ratification should continue. Pressure is mounting in the UK, especially from the largely eurosceptic press, for the government of Gordon Brown to call a referendum.
The House of Lords is to debate the Treaty again on Wednesday.