Czech Constitutional Court starts Lisbon Treaty scrutiny

The Czech Constitutional Court is now prepared to start examining the Lisbon Treaty to decide whether it is consistent with the country’s constitution, the body’s chairman said in Prague on 31 August.

Court chairman Pavel Rychetsky said he expects the court to concentrate on the seven passages against which a complaint was filed, ?TK reported. He added that he was not able to tell how long the judges would be discussing the case. 

The Senate, which is dominated by senior eurosceptics from the ruling Civic Democrats (ODS), asked the court to check the treaty’s compatibility with the Czech Constitution in April. 

The ratification process was complicated by the fact that Ireland said ‘no’ to the treaty in a referendum in June. 

Current EU Presidency holder France, alongside other EU countries, wants all 26 member states to ratify the treaty as soon as possible to put pressure on Ireland to re-vote. There are no other “problematic countries” after the Czech Republic and Poland, experts say. The Czech Republic will take over the EU Presidency from France on 1 January 2009. 

But even if the Czech Constitutional Court does declare the new treaty constitutional, parliamentary ratification is far from certain. While the lower chamber is expected to approve the text, the outcome in the Senate cannot be predicted due to a strong eurosceptic faction within the ruling ODS of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, which has a majority there. 

Also, Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus recently confirmed that he will not sign his country’s Lisbon Treaty ratification unless Ireland ratifies it first (EURACTIV 25/07/08). 

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel said recently that he would like the Lisbon Treaty ratification process to end by the end of the year, before the beginning of the Czech EU Presidency. 

Havel added that if the court rules that the Lisbon Treaty and the Czech Constitution contradict one another, there would be good reason to change the country’s constitution. 

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