Lisbon Treaty gets Portugal’s nod of approval

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The Portuguese Parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favour of ratifying the EU’s new Reform Treaty – named after the country’s capital, where it was signed by European leaders last December.

Despite ‘no’ votes from the Communist party, Green Party and Left Bloc of extreme leftists, on 23 April Portugal became the ninth EU country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. 

The three leftist groups voted against ratifying the text, arguing that it goes against Portugal’s sovereign interests and should therefore be subject to a popular referendum. But they were largely outnumbered and, in the end, Parliament approved the text by 208 votes to 21. 

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed his country’s approval of the Treaty and commended the Portuguese government’s role in garnering a European consensus on a follow-up to the rejected EU constitution. 

“The Treaty of Lisbon would not have been possible without the commitment and leadership provided by the Government during the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union. I would also like to congratulate Parliament for the large majority for the Treaty, showing the unequivocal Portuguese support for the European project,” he said. 

So far, nine other countries have ratified the Treaty, namely Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Malta, Romania and Slovenia. But the text has to be approved by all 27 member states to enter into force. 

“This is another important step towards our objective of a new treaty in force by 1 January 2009,” said Barroso. A key hurdle for the text will be the Irish referendum scheduled for 12 June 2008. According to latest polls, 60% of the Irish are still undecided on how to vote, with only 28% ‘certain’ to vote in favour of the new Treaty (EURACTIV 16/04/08). 

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