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Hungary first EU country to ratify reform treaty

[JURIST] Hungary became the first EU member to ratify the new Treaty of Lisbon [official website; PDF text] when the Hungarian National Assembly [official website] voted 325-5 Monday in favor of the treaty. Fourteen assembly members abstained from the vote. Leaders from the 27 European Union member countries signed the EU reform treaty [JURIST report] last week, but all member countries must ratify the document before it can take effect.

The Treaty of Lisbon is designed to reform EU operations in order to speed up the decision-making process within EU institutions and allow EU members to take a more active role in global issues. Under the terms of the treaty, the current EU presidency which is rotated among member states will be replaced in 2009 with a long-term president of the Council of the European Union, and the position of an EU foreign policy high representative will be created. A charter of fundamental European rights [EU materials] is also included. EU leaders reached agreement on the text [JURIST report] of the proposed treaty at a summit [EU materials] in Lisbon in October, working through last minute objections by Poland and Italy. EU leaders reached basic agreement [JURIST report] on the treaty itself in June; it is, in effect, a cut-down version of the failed European constitution [JURIST news archive]. The original draft constitution did not receive unanimous approval among all EU states. Voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the proposal in national referenda in 2005. Only Ireland is planning to hold a referendum on the new treaty. EUobserver has more.

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