Czech Prime Minister Petr Ne?as says he favours holding a referendum on the 'fiscal compact,' but is waiting for a final draft of the intergovernmental treaty aimed at tightening fiscal discipline in the eurozone. EURACTIV Czech Republic contributed to this article.
Ne?as said he prefers that Czechs decide the country's accession to the new treaty (see Background). The Czech Republic is not in the eurozone, but its EU accession treaty requires it to adopt the currency as soon as it meets the criteria.
In theory, the fiscal compact could be ratified by a constitutional majority (three-fifths) of votes in the two houses of parliament.
Ne?as, leader of the conservative and eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS), told the Parliament yesterday (19 January) that he preferred that the fiscal compact be voted as part of a national referendum on the adoption of the euro. Another possibility, he added, was to stage a separate referendum on the fiscal compact.
"The intergovernmental [fiscal compact] treaty undoubtedly means a radical transfer of powers to the EU," Ne?as said, quoted by the national agency ?TK.
Ne?as referred to the latest draft of the treaty, which he said enabled "a voting cartel".
"If two big countries agreed on something with the EC, all remaining states would have to vote together with them", Ne?as was quoted as saying, apparently referring to France and Germany which pushed the compact.
He said it was necessary to wait for the final text of the document that is to be binding on the eurozone members. Other EU states could join voluntarily.
While the ruling Civic Democrats and junior partner Public Affairs would like to see the matter decided in a national referendum, the third party in the government – TOP 09 – says such an issue is "too complex" for the electorate and should be made by Parliament.
The opposition Social Democrats are against holding a referendum on the fiscal pact. This would leave the Civic Democrats and Public Affairs in the unenviable position of petitioning the Communists for support and possibly trying to break the ranks of the other two parties, Czech Radio reported. It adds that the eurosceptic Czech President Václav Klaus has not yet taken a position.
In 2009, Klaus made headlines with his efforts to block ratification of the Lisbon Treaty at a time when the country held the rotating EU presidency.