Romania ratifies EU Treaty as France moves to follow

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Romania has ratified the Treaty of Lisbon by parliamentary vote after a huge majority of MPs approved the text yesterday (4 February). Meanwhile, France’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment necessary to begin the ratification process of the treaty itself.

Romanian MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying the new EU Treaty, with 387 votes cast in its support and just one against. The country’s Foreign Ministry said the decision “confirms Romania’s commitment to advancing the European project.” 

Congratulating Romania, Commission President José Manuel Barroso said he appreciated “the commitment given to early approval of the treaty by both the Romanian Government and Parliament” and described the decision as “an important step towards our objective of a new treaty in force by 1 January 2009.” 

Romania becomes the fourth member state to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon, with Slovakia and France hoping to follow suit later this week. Hungary, Slovenia and Malta have already approved the text, all three doing so by parliamentary vote. President Barroso said he hoped that other member states would “quickly follow the lead given by the four countries that have now approved the treaty.” 

Meanwhile, France has taken a significant step towards ratification after a parliamentary congress voted massively in favour of deleting a reference to the doomed treaty rejected by popular referendum in 2005 from its own constitution. The draft amendment was adopted by a majority of 560 of the 741 votes cast at the special meeting of MPs and senators convened yesterday in Versailles. 

French attention now moves on to ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon itself. Prior to the vote on the amendment, French Prime Minister François Fillon had asked the assembled parliamentarians: “Do you really want to re-launch Europe or would you prefer to sink her?” (EURACTIV France 05/02/08). 

The proposal to revise the constitution easily attracted the 60% majority of MPs and senators necessary for adoption largely thanks to the support of the ruling UMP party, 90% of whose members voted in its favour. Meanwhile, the Socialist party was split over the issue. Amid widespread abstention of just under 50%, over a third of its members voted against and 32 voted in favour. 

France will become the largest country to complete ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon later this week providing that final votes in the National Assembly on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday attract the necessary support. No hiccups are anticipated after the Socialist Party indicated that it would approve the treaty itself. “Europe must move on from the impasse in which it mistakenly found itself” said party leader François Hollande. 

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