Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another roadblock for the EU’s treaty, a German court

The EU’s drive to get any sort of a constitution, defeated in France and the Netherlands when it was rejected by voters in 2005, and kicked back in its new form last year in Ireland, has run into a new obstacle after Germany’s top court ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with German law, but said parliament’s role must be strengthened before it can formally be ratified. German opponents of the treaty, which is designed to streamline the running of the European Union, challenged it in the constitutional court, arguing that the document undermined German sovereignty. Both houses of the German parliament have endorsed the treaty, which was signed by EU leaders in 2007. But President Horst Koehler withheld his signature pending the decision by the top court. “The Basic Law says ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty, but demands a strengthening of parliamentary responsibilities at the national level,” said the court’s Vice President, Andreas Vosskuhle. Only when this happened could ratification be completed, Vosskuhle said in reading out the 150-page judgment. “The court is optimistic the final hurdle before ratification will be cleared quickly,” he added. In response to the court decision, the German lower house, or Bundestag, agreed to meet in August to draft a law giving parliament more powers in matters related to EU affairs. A second reading of the bill is scheduled for September 8, less than three weeks before the nation goes to the polls on September 27. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic the ratification process would be completed before the general election. The legal challenge to the treaty was mounted by more than 50 federal legislators, among them Peter Gauweiler, a maverick deputy in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. The Left Party also sought an injunction against the treaty, claiming it breached parliamentary rights. Outright rejection of the treaty by the German court would have sounded a death knell for the future of the 27 EU states’ reform process. In addition to Germany, three other countries - Poland, the Czech Republic and Ireland - have still to approve the treaty before it can come into force at the start of 2010. The biggest hurdle is likely to be a second public referendum on the treaty in Ireland, after voters there rejected it in June 2008. The Lisbon Treaty replaced the earlier proposed EU constitution, which was vetoed by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005. The treaty would, among other reforms, create a post of president of the European Union, and a permanent high representative for foreign affairs, and bring in more qualified majority voting. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, welcomed the German court ruling, but couldn’t explain why.“I am confident that, with this judgment, the court has cleared the way for a swift conclusion of the German ratification,” he said in a statement released in Brussels. “I am confident that we can complete the process of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon in all countries by the autumn,” he added. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country took over the EU presidency on July 1, told journalists in Sweden that the court decision “is not a big sensation.” He said it would not influence the presidency timetable and that it was “not necessarily a bad thing” to strengthen the role of parliament. In its ruling, the court noted the German parliament had “not been accorded sufficient rights of participation in European lawmaking procedures and treaty amendment procedures.” It said the process of European unity should “not be allowed to undermine the ruling democratic order in Germany.” Members of the EU should have sufficient scope for political decision making in relation to economic, cultural and social living conditions, it said. In particular, this applied to criminal law, police issues, the military, tax matters, social expenditure and family law, the judges wrote in their ruling. But the treaty, which beefs up governing structures in the 27-nation European Union from next year, still faces hold-ups in four nations with only half a year left to go until it is targeted to take effect. Besides the new German problem, Ireland is expected to hold a fresh referendum in early October. Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008 by a majority of 53.4 percent, but polls suggest that EU assurances of no interference in key Irish policies will sway voters to vote yes this time. Ratification by the Czech Republic is being held up by President Vaclav Klaus. The Eurosceptic president has said he would not reconsider unless all the other nations have ratified. He described the recent verdict by Germany’s top court that the stalled EU Lisbon treaty was compatible with the country’s constitution as both “toothless and predictable.” Klaus, probably the most Eurosceptic head of state within the EU, slammed that verdict in a first-person editorial piece. “I do not believe that it is possible to annul the known defects of the Lisbon Treaty by an accompanying law,” Klaus wrote in the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily. “That would have been too simple,” the op-ed continued. “The vast shift of competences and decision-making mechanisms in the EU cannot be changed by this law.” The Lisbon Treaty has been stalled since Irish voters rejected it in a June 2008 referendum. The EU hopes that a new Irish vote in October would bring the pact back to life. All 27 members must ratify it before it comes to force, but only Ireland has put it to a plebiscite. Klaus, whose signature is required to complete the Czech ratification, called the verdict “a result known in advance.” He also wrote that the judges based their decision on “the dominant paradigm of beneficial influence of deeper European integration.” Klaus, who rejects the treaty as a threat to national sovereignty and an inconvenient deal for small EU countries, is dragging out its ratification in the Czech Republic. The Czech bicameral parliament finished voting on the accord in May. But Klaus said that he would make up his mind on whether to ink the pact only after all other EU members complete ratification. In Poland, another Eurosceptic, President Lech Kaczynski, has held off putting his signature on ratifying legislation. He says he is waiting to see whether the Irish vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty in their referendum. While January 1, 2010 is not legally prescribed as a deadline, it is politically important as a target to stop the process unraveling. The majority of national parliaments have approved the treaty without holding any referendums. After years of wrangling, the European Union has been hoping it can end this year in a more upbeat mood. The plan so far has been to hold a summit in late October celebrating the Irish yes to the treaty.