What happens to the Lisbon treaty now?

President Lech Kaczynski

The vote in Ireland last Friday, or more accurately the result last Saturday, has cleared away the biggest obstacle facing the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. The only member states that are still to complete ratification are Poland and the Czech Republic, in each of which the democratic political processes have already been concluded.

There have been some suggestions in Poland that President Kaczynski’s signature could be used as a bargaining chip in trying to extract concessions from the rest of the EU. Everybody wants him to sign: could there be some value in this?

“Let’s squeeze as much as possible out of Brussels”, said Zbigniew Girzynski, an MP from the Law and Justice party.

Of course, it would be completely scandalous to try to do so. The Lisbon treaty has been approved through the Polish parliamentary process and it would be a complete abandonment of democracy in Poland to refuse to sign the treaty now.

In the Czech Republic, President Klaus is even more of a eurosceptic that his Polish colleague, and he too is refusing to sign the treaty. His stated reason is that there is a legal challenge still pending in the Czech supreme court. Of course, the legal challenge is only a pretext and not a reason. It brings to mind a football manager’s complaint that the referee was biased or unfit when a decision went against his team, and is considered similarly embarrassing in the Czech Republic itself.

David Cameron’s strategy for the Lisbon treaty depends on Messrs Kaczynski and Klaus continuing to delay signing their names, President Kaczynski forgetting to bring a pen, President Klaus being stuck in traffic, things like that. It is all rather absurd, isn’t it.

Thoughts really need to turn to how a Conservative government will adapt to governing in a post-Lisbon Europe, and how much of a fight it might try to pick with the rest of the EU.

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