Czech lower house approves EU reform treaty

Czech lower house approves EU reform treaty

[JURIST] The Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies [official website], the lower house of the nation's parliament, on Wednesday approved [press release] the European Union (EU) reform pact known as the Treaty of Lisbon [EU materials; text]. The approval brings the treaty closer to full ratification by the EU's 27 member states, though it still must pass the nation's Senate [official website], be signed by President Vaclav Klaus [official website] and face a referendum in Ireland [JURIST report]. The measure is expected to draw rigorous debate in the Senate, where some leaders want to delay ratification [ODS press release] until the parliament approves a plan to host a radar base for a US missile defense system. If the agreement does pass the Senate, Klaus has expressed a desire to put off signing it until the issue is resolved in Ireland.

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU's six-month, rotating presidency, has faced pressure from EU states to approve the agreement after delays, including a failed constitutional challenge [JURIST report]. Irish voters rejected [JURIST report] the treaty in a June 2008 referendum, prompting Polish President Lech Kaczynski [official website] to refuse [JURIST report] to sign, calling it "pointless." In November 2008, Sweden became the 24th EU state to ratify the charter [JURIST report]. In 2005, a proposed European constitution [JURIST news archive] failed when voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the proposal in national referenda.