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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.04.08: 'Old' and 'new' Europe divided at NATO Summit - 0 views

  • EU divisions were apparent on the eve of the NATO summit in Bucharest on 2-4 April with several heavyweights, including France, opposed to the planned Eastern expansion of the military alliance. EurActiv Romania contributed to this report from Bucharest.
  • Several EU heavyweights (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium) are opposed to such a project.  In the meantime, several representatives of the new EU members expressed their support for opening the NATO door to Kiev and Tbilisi.
  • French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that President Nicolas Sarkozy would oppose the idea at the Summit in Bucharest. "France is not green-lighting Ukraine and Georgia's accession. Paris has a different opinion to that of the US on the matter", Fillon told France Inter Radio, quoted by Rompres. Romanian President Traian Basescu, who is hosting the largest-ever summit of NATO's 26 member states, stated that including Ukraine and Georgia in the MAP is "a logical step from the Romanian point of view". 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann - Choosing 'Mr. Europe' | EU - European Information on EU Treaty & Institutions - 0 views

  • The Treaty of Lisbon, expected to enter in force in 2009, introduces two new European top jobs: a high-profile president who will chair EU summit meetings for a two-and-a-half year term and a revamped foreign policy chief. However, selecting the right people to fill these positions will prove a politically sensitive task in the months ahead.
  • Policy Summary Links The EU's new 'Reform Treaty' was agreed upon by EU leaders at a summit in June 2007 and the updated final text was formally approved in October at an intergovernmental conference (IGC) (EurActiv 19/10/08). The "Treaty of Lisbon ", as it was finally named, was officially signed by EU heads of state and government at a summit in the Portuguese capital on 13 December 2007 (EurActiv 14/12/07). 
  • Rules and timing unclear  The criteria for who to choose for these two new top positions were not written down in the Lisbon Treaty. It will therefore be up to Europe's heads of state and government to decide on who they want to choose as their new representatives. 
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  • The big question: who to choose?  In the absence of formal criteria, much speculation has broken out over who should take up the role of EU president. According to Stanley Crossick, a veteran EU policy analyst and founding chairman of the European Policy Centre (EPC) - a Brussels think tank - the new EU Troika needs to strike a balance between the following criteria (see blog post on Blogactiv for full analysis ):  Nationality;  geography;  size of country, and;  political affiliation. 
  • What do the citizens think?  According to a poll by Harris Interactive published in early April, most European citizens consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be the most influential leader in Europe, while Tony Blair is the preferred candidate for the job of EU president. 
    Provides a comprehensive overview of the topic in question (selecting a president and a foreign policy chief) including the contractual basis to be found in the Lisbon-Treaty
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.03.11: Eurozone debt crisis intensifies on eve of summit - 2 views

  • Moody's cut Spain's debt rating yesterday (10 March), pushing the euro lower and deepening the sense of crisis in the 17-nation currency bloc on the eve of a crucial EU summit in Brussels.
  • A French presidential source said euro zone leaders would discuss Portugal's measures to cope with its financial problems at Friday's summit but they were not working on a rescue plan. EU sources said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates is under intense pressure from his peers and the European Central Bank to announce additional austerity measures and accelerate economic reforms. The sources said he would make a statement to the leaders at the start of a summit on Friday on his commitment to deeper reforms, including to the labour market
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: Battle over treaty change divides Europe ahead of summit - 0 views

  • Just one year after the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - one of the most bitter political battles in EU history - France and Germany are coming into an EU summit ready to pitch the idea of rewriting the legal pact. As the premiers and presidents of the bloc's 27 states arrive in Brussels on Thursday (28 October) for a two-day summit intended to endorse new fiscal rules, a last-minute deal between two of the EU's most powerful countries has caused shocked and anger across the continent.
  • Last week at a bilateral pow-wow in Deauville, France, President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cut a deal in which Berlin backed Paris in its desire to water down sanctions to be imposed on excessive-spending EU countries. In return, Paris endorsed Berlin's push for a change to the EU treaty in order to set-up an EU bailout fund and default mechanism. Ms Merkel is adamant that her country cannot endorse a repeat of the emergency bail-outs cobbled together this spring. Germany is the main bankroller of the €110 billion loan to Greece and of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), the yet-to-be-tapped €440 billion rescue mechanism for the eurozone as a whole. Both of these funds have an expiry date of 2013 and Berlin is looking to see that something more substantial replaces them before then. The default mechanism would signal to investors that they, rather than taxpayers alone, would be on the hook for at least part of the costs of the bankruptcy of a country. The mechanism is designed to deal with sovereign defaults without setting off a cascading panic in the markets similar to the Greek debt crisis that shook Europe in spring. The idea is highly controversial, with even the reticent European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet voicing steadfast opposition.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Parliament warns EU summit against backroom deals - 0 views

  • Ahead of an EU summit opening today (28 October), Liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt warned that the European Parliament was determined to use its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty and would not let economic governance plans be "diluted" by Germany and France.
  • But Verhofstadt, who leads the Parliament's Liberal group, warned that such backroom deals were now over. The European Parliament, he said, would have full co-decision powers on legislative proposals that will come out later in the year to flesh out the EU's new economic governance. His warnings were echoed by other political groups in Parliament, including the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which commands the largest number of seats in the Strasbourg assembly. Iñigo Mendez De Vigo, a Spanish MEP in charge of institutional issues at the EPP, said he welcomed the Task Force's proposals. But he added that "they should take into account that the European Parliament is now co-legislator and will play its full part in defining the reforms to come".  "I regret that the French-German proposal does not even mention the European Commission, which also has a say on this issue," De Vigo said, adding the Parliament should also be more involved. The Greens, the fourth largest group in Parliament, also backed the Liberals and the EPP, in a move which could herald a long battle with member states over the economic reform plans. The Parliament "will be a co-legislator on four of the six legislative proposals" on economic governance, said Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, saying his group was "in favour of a more ambitious and broader economic framework than the Commission and Council". Verhofstadt said he hoped this new battle would not take nine months, referring to the time it took to pass a recent package of financial supervision laws through the assembly.
  • In a statement, Verhofstadt detailed the three key areas where the Task Force had diluted the Commission's initial proposal and on which he said Parliament was ready to pick a fight. First, the Commission had proposed to impose sanctions on member countries with excessive deficits or severe imbalances at an earlier stage, without delay. By contrast, the Task Force argues that a political decision should be taken on the proposed sanctions, meaning that they could be blocked by a country capable of putting together a blocking minority. The result is that there will be no preventive procedure and therefore no sanctions, the liberal group leader warned. Second, the Task Force foresees a "double filter" for decision-making, involving a political recommendation by the Council before the Commission can take action. In practice, this means the Commission will be allowed to take sanctions only after a certain period, Verhofstadt said. Finally, while the EU executive had proposed that corrective action or sanctions be initiated directly by its own services, the Task Force called instead for a recommendation that would need subsequent backing by the bloc's 27 finance ministers. "It's easy to change a recommendation, and far more difficult to change a proposal by the Commission, because in that case you need unanimity," Verhofstadt explained.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.08: Czechs to widen EU-US summit to more nations - 0 views

  • Outlining some of the main priories of the incoming Czech EU Presidency, Milena Vicenova, the Czech ambassador to the bloc in Brussels, said her country would seek to hold an "informal summit" with the US in Prague, involving the leaders of the bloc's 27 member states in a departure from the usual European 'troika' format of delegations.
  • Meanwhile, the Czech ambassador also said her country would follow up on proposals tabled by the European Commission earlier this month to develop an Eastern Partnership to improve ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and particularly Ukraine.
  • The Czech ambassador also expressed her hope that the European elections, which are scheduled to take place on 4-7 June 2009, would be a success. "We will do everything in our power to avoid low turnout our voter apathy, and we hope to keep a positive spirit."
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  • EU official documents Czech EU Presidency: Website Czech EU Presidency: Priorties
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.12.08: EU summit gives in to Irish demands on Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • On the first day of the European Council (11 December), EU leaders agreed on a package of Irish demands which pave the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, which will most probably be held in October 2009.
  • Under the compromise text, seen by EurActiv, all EU countries are expected to keep their commissioner. Ireland will receive legal guarantees on taxation policy, social and ethical issues and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP), with regard to Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality among other provisions. 
  • Transitional accommodations  Therefore, transitional measures have been adopted with respect to the Presidency of the European Council, as well as of the European Parliament. The member state holding the EU presidency when the Lisbon Treaty enters into force (Sweden holds the presidency until the end of 2009) will continue to chair all meetings in the same manner as today's presidencies.  But the next EU presidency holder (Spain from January 2010) will make changes in conformity with the Lisbon Treaty, making room for a permanent President of the European Council and a High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.  Also, European Parliament will be enlarged from 736 to 754 members in the course of 2010, if indeed the Irish say 'yes' to the reform treaty. The elections will take place under the Treaty of Nice, but soon the Parliament is expected to accommodate the provisions of Lisbon.  Answering questions from the press, Poettering acknowledged that the situation was not ideal, and the legitimacy of MEPs falling between the Nice and Lisbon Treaties should be preserved, as their status should not be different. He admitted that legal experts would struggle with the issue. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.12.08: EU leaders gatehr for rift-packed summit - 0 views

  • Almost two years after adopting ambitious green goals, a year after signing the new Lisbon Treaty and some sixteen months after the first signs of the financial crisis, EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday (11 December) to write a new chapter in the three long-running dossiers.
  • But it will be his Irish colleague, Prime Minister Brian Cowen to open the show by presenting Dublin's analysis on why the Irish voters rejected the EU's reform treaty in the June referendum and what can be done to rescue its ratification.
  • Moreover, Dublin could see a pledge to retain the country's commissioner if all other EU leaders follow the French line – all in a bid to enable the Irish government to hold the second referendum by 31 October, according to the draft document. It would mean that one of the key elements of the EU's institutional reform would be changed despite previous pressure on member states not to touch the package when the bloc was turning the former European Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty, following the negative referendums in France and the Netherlands.
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  • Another hot issue at the summit will be Europe's grand strategy for economic recovery. Brussels has suggested that the Union invest 1.5 percent of its GDP to boost economic activity amid projections of a severe recession in 2009.
  • But if anything is to cause the leaders to be up all night, it will be the complicated arguments over the climate change package. Although the member states had agreed on most elements of the legislation before this week's top-level meeting, there are still a couple of areas where they had not been able to strike a compromise since the European Commission put forward the bill in January.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

14.11.08: Sarkozy wants new EU-US-Russia security accord - 0 views

  • With Russia's backing for the G20 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a new security and defence arrangement between the EU, Russia and the US to be agreed at a summit mid-2009, calling both on Moscow and Washington to refrain from deploying missiles until that date. Mr Sarkozy was speaking at a press conference on Friday (14 November) following the EU-Russia summit held in Nice, alongside his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
  • "As acting EU council president I propose that mid-2009 we gather for instance within the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to lay the basis of what might be a future EU security arrangement ...which would of course involve the Russians and the Americans," Mr Sarkozy said, backing an idea originally proposed by his Russian counterpart.
    Sarkozy wants new EU-US-Russia security accord
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.06.08: Macedonia PM attacks Greece - 0 views

  • Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski attacked Greece for demonstrating "power" and "arrogance" over the infamous 'name dispute' following a disappointing EU summit for Skopje last week.
  • Background: In April, Athens vetoed Skopje's invitation to join NATO, arguing the name 'Macedonia' could lead Skopje to make territorial claims over Greece's own northern province of the same name.  A nationalist backlash followed in the small country of 2.5 million, which US former assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrook famously called "a hole in the middle of nothing".  Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski decided to ride on this wave and called for early elections. Macedonian legislators have ignored warnings from leading MEPs that early elections would threaten the country's EU accession (EurActiv 14/04/08). Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned in the meantime that the unresolved 'name dispute' with Greece could negatively affect Macedonia's EU agenda. 
  • The EU summit conclusions, adopted by European heads of state and government on 20 June, did not specifically mention that Macedonia would begin EU accession talks in 2008, to the disappointment of the small Balkan republic. 
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  • In an interview with the Macedonian Information Agency, Gruevski downplayed concerns expressed in the Macedonian media over the Council conclusions. Instead, he accused his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis of not intending to close the name dispute in the near future. He warned that in the current UN-sponsored negotiations, Greece has no intention whatsoever of moving forward. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.09.09: Swedes plan big bang institutional summit in October - 0 views

  • - Sweden is hoping to clear up the EU's distracting institutional issues in one grand summit next month in order to drag the union's focus back to pressing international issues.

    Speaking to MEPs on Tuesday (1 September) Cecilia Malmstrom, Sweden's Europe minister, said: "Our aim is - if everything goes smoothly and the Lisbon treaty is adopted - that at the October council ...we can decide on all the institutional issues."

    The gathering of EU leaders at the end of next month should appoint the new list of commissioners, the new EU foreign minister and the president of the European Council.

    According to Mrs Malstrom, the summit should also agree a "loose framework" for the EU's fledgling diplomatic service.

  • The minister was responding to a series of questions from euro-deputies in the constitutional committee on how the Lisbon treaty – which faces a referendum in Ireland on 2 October and final approval in three other countries – should function in practice.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.11.09: Belgrade catching train to EU in 2014 - 0 views

  • ‘Adoption of the Resolution on strategy of the EU enlargement by the European Parliament is an exceptionally positive event for Serbia. Still, future decisions by the EU ministers should not be prejudiced’, Bozidar Djelic, Serbia Deputy Prime Minister for European integration said yesterday. This moderate reaction to decision by the European Parliament to accept as an obligation the EU enlargement onto the West Balkans and to request from the EU Council urgent unblocking of the transient trade agreement between Serbia and the EU is only on the surface while under it there is a hectic and increasingly successful activity by Serbian diplomacy leading towards filing of application for the EU membership even as early as in 2014. The decision over unblocking of the SAA is to be made at the EU summit scheduled for December 10. Until then Serbian officials have to do a lot of work. Thus, within diplomatic initiative in Brussels, Serbia President shall attend the meeting of ministers deciding on visa suspension on November 30. After that the Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic is to meet with his EU counterparts at the OSCE meeting in Athens on December 2. The USA Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is expected to come to the meeting. She recently openly supported unblocking of the SAA with Serbia. A day earlier the Chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal Serge Brammertz shall present to the UN Security Council the most positive report ever on cooperation by Serbia with the Hague Tribunal. Minister Jeremic shall visit Brussels on December 7 and 8 when the EU ministers are to decide on the SAA unblocking. He shall speak at the Summit on December 10. A day before the summit Deputy Premier Djelic is to meet with the Foreign Minister of Spain, a chairing country and with the EU enlargement commissioner. Serbia President Boris Tadic said that ‘Serbia shall file application for membership after unblocking of the transient trade agreement’. According to his words the time for candidacy shall come when it is clear that our application is going to be accepted.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.05.10: Bosnia tensions grow ahead of Balkan summit | EurActiv - 0 views

  • Officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina have traded accusations with representatives of the international community, who have been helping to manage the country since the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. The development came just days ahead of a Western Balkans summit in Sarajevo on 2 June, intended to reaffirm the region's EU membership prospects.
  • Bosnian Prime Minister Nikola Spiric has written to the UN accusing the international community's envoy of destabilising his country, the local press reported on 23 May.Spiric urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to remove the international community's high representative in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, who has the power to pass laws and sack officials in the country's two semi-autonomous entities, AFP reported."Continuing foreign intervention in local political issues is destabilising and undermines the creation of a consensus [...] as well as reform efforts," the Bosnian Serb leader is quoted as saying.The Office of the High Representative (OHR) "should be closed in order to enable Bosnian political leaders to achieve legitimate progress," he said, saying that Inzko, an Austian diplomat, was "contributing to non-functional governance in Bosnia".In return, Inzko blamed leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina for what he called a "deterioration" of political dialogue.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.05.10: EU debt crisis must not hurt Balkan entry hopes: Serbia - 0 views

  • Serbia's president on Saturday warned the financial crisis gripping Europe must not be allowed to derail the Balkans' hopes of joining the European Union, ahead of a crunch summit with the bloc."The policy of the European Union's enlargement must not be interrupted at any price," President Boris Tadic told a conference of regional leaders, held in Sarajevo ahead of a vital EU-Balkans summit on June 2.
  • Tadic was meeting with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic and their colleagues from the Bosnian tripartite presidency, namely Muslim leader Haris Silajdzic.Officials and media across the Balkans have expressed concern that the ongoing debt crisis could slow down the enlargement process, with new members perceived as a potential threat to the bloc's financial stability.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.10.10: 'Small, small, small' EU treaty change to deliver 'quantum leap' - 0 views

  • European leaders have given way to German demands for a change to the European treaties, but the procedure for the change and its size has been calculated explicitly to avoid the danger that it could provoke referendums in some EU states.
  • Viritually all EU member states had vehemently opposed any treaty change going into the summit, but in the end they were convinced by Germany's need for the change in order to avoid a legal clash with its Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court. The leaders agreed to construct a permanent crisis mechanism to fill the void left when the existing but temporary €110 billion bail-out package for Greece and €440 billion fund set up for the eurozone as a whole expire in 2013. According to diplomats, it is currently unclear whether this new mechanism would involve participation of eurozone members alone or the full 27 EU member states, including those who do not use the euro. Germany is worried that any permanent structure could run afoul of treaty rules forbidding EU bail-outs of member states and be struck down by the country's strict Constitutional Court, thus opening the euro once again to an assault by markets as occurred in the spring. Caught between the need for a structural change and their fear of both the activism of Karlsruhe and the growing euroscepticism of citizens, the other leaders signed off on the move only so long as the change envisaged was "small, small, small - the smallest possible ... in order to ensure there is no possibility of referendums," in the words of a Danish diplomat speaking to EUobserver. The method EU leaders chose to achieve the change will be via what is called the "special revision procedure," introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, under which the treaty can be amended by the European Council alone, so long as there is unanimity and the changes do not extend the competences of the European Union.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: EU leaders give green light to tweak treaty in order to allow for the creation of a permanent bail-out fund for member states - 0 views

  • European Union leaders have come to a consensus that the bloc's treaty must be changed, although only in a limited fashion, in order to allow for the creation of a permanent bail-out fund for member states. "Today we took important decisions to strengthen the euro," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters at a press conference in the early morning hours of Friday (29 October).
  • Initially horrified at the Franco-German demand for a wholesale re-writing of the EU rulebook only a year after the Lisbon Treaty had been approved, the other EU leaders are now warming to the idea of a "limited" tweaking of the treaty in a way that they hope will avoid major political fall-out. "Heads of state and government agree on the need for member states to establish a permanent crisis mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and invite the president of the European Council to undertake consultations with the members of the European Council on a limited treaty change required to that effect," the draft conclusions of a two-day summit in Brussels read.
  • "No country is opposed in principle to a moderate treaty change but they want to know what the political and legal consequences of this would be," said one source close to the discussions. Two moves have been tentatively agreed. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy is to be tasked with exploring whether such a limited change can be done via a simplified revision procedure, in which EU leaders can make the change without having to call a full Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) - involving negotiations between the governments, consultations with the European Parliament and the participation of the European Commission, which could open a Pandora's Box of other new proposals. Mr Van Rompuy would also explore whether legally this can be done without the tweak having to be presented to national parliaments for approval, which would almost certainly grind down the process, or even further, whether such a move would provoke referendums in some countries, notably Ireland, which maintains a constitutional requirement that any shift in powers from Dublin to Brussels be approved in a vote by the people. He would report back to the European Council in December.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.09.08: French EU presidency wants EU closer to NATO - 0 views

  • The French EU presidency is to put forward a security package at the December summit aimed at relaunching the European security and defence policy (ESDP) with strong links to NATO, many measures of which were outlined at a Brussels conference on defence on Monday (15 September).
  • At the December EU summit, France will present a series of concrete measures in order to address these shortcomings, including the launch of joint military European training courses modelled on the Erasmus Programme - the civilian university student exchange system.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.12.08: Second Irish referendum linked to Croatian EU accession - 0 views

  • Legal guarantees promised to Ireland and paving the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the country are to be written into a protocol together with Croatia's accession treaty to the EU in 2010 or 2011, current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday (12 December).
  • EU leaders in Brussels this week (11-12 December) agreed to a series of concessions to allow Dublin to make possible a second vote on the bloc's Lisbon Treaty some time in the course of next year.
  • In order to make these promises legally binding, they will be written into a protocol in Croatia's accession treaty - that has to be ratified by all EU countries to enter into force. "To give a legal value to the engagements made to Ireland by the 26 other member states, we have committed that at the time of the next EU enlargement – whether that will be in 2010 or in 2011, when probably Croatia will join us ... we will use that to add a protocol [on Ireland] to Croatia's accession treaty," Mr Sarkozy told journalists after the EU summit.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.09.08 Lack of Lisbon Treaty leaves EU weak on Georgia - 0 views

  • Although the fate of the EU's Reform Treaty was not officially discussed at the bloc's extraordinary summit on Georgia on 1 September, it proved to be a highly topical issue, with various top-level European politicians highlighting the importance of its entry into force if the EU is to become a more powerful global player.
  • Political analysts have underlined that the EU was lucky to have a country as big as France at its helm during the Georgia crisis as this tempered the lack of real EU leadership.  "The EU was lucky France held the EU Presidency, because Russia agreed to engage with Mr. Sarkozy on the ceasefire. But they may not have engaged with the EU if a smaller country such as the Czech Republic were EU president, especially with its difficult bilateral relationship with Moscow as a result of its decision to host US missile defence," said Antonio Missiroli, the director of the European Policy Centre, quoted in The Irish Times. 
  • Even the Polish President, who in the recent past called the Lisbon Treaty "pointless" and said he would not sign it (EurActiv 01/07/08), spoke a very different language after the summit.  Asked by EurActiv if he was now more in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, Kaczynski conceded that indeed, several EU leaders had mentioned informally that the Lisbon Treaty would have given the EU better instruments to deal with challenges such as the current Georgia crisis. He then added that Ireland should hold a second referendum. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.03.09: 'No US radar, no Lisbon Treaty', Prague warns - 0 views

  • Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek yesterday (18 March) confirmed reports revealed by EurActiv in January: President Barack Obama's decision to put on hold US plans to construct its missile shield and radar base in the Czech Republic effectively blocks his country's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • Topolánek, who chairs the ODS, told the Czech press that he is putting the Lisbon Treaty on ice, together with the US agreement. But he blamed the Social Democratic opposition for the stalemate. He also indicated that he hopes to convince the US president at the NATO summit on 4 April in Strasbourg to change his mind and proceed with the missile shield plan.  Obama will be travelling to Prague for an EU-US summit on 5 April: his first official visit to Europe.  Asked to clarify whether the deadlock could spell the end of the Lisbon Treaty, Topolánek said in an interview with Czech news: "I think that is possible. But I would stress it is not entirely our responsibility. I will not instruct anyone how to vote [...] I have said that many times before.
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