The BBC tells us that a ”Czech move could delay EU treaty” (22 September 2009). At least 17 Czech Senators are going to submit a petition to the Czech Constitutional Court, which “guesses” that it will need three or four months to settle the issue (although a full treaty review might take as much as nine months).
The authors of The Federalist Papers saw the (then indirectly elected) Senate as a salutary check on the “mischievous effects of a mutable government”.
The Czech second chamber, the Senate, embodies this vision of prudence, in other words a break on legislative activism. Only one third of the Senators are elected every two years, for a period of six years. A majority system (first past the post) applies to the 81 Senators, elected from as many constituencies. A Senator must be at least forty years old.
However, in the case of the Treaty of Lisbon, both chambers of the Czech Parliament have approved the amending treaty, by qualified majorities, and prior to the votes the Constitutional Court had ruled that the treaty was compatible with the Constitution.
Czech Senate Lisbon vote
According to EurActiv (7 May 2009) the Czech Senate approved the Lisbon Treaty by 54 votes to 20.
The normal rule of parliamentary democracy is to vote and move on, but here a minority (21 per cent) of Senators is determined to pursue their obstructionist cause to the bitter end.
Immediate consequences for Europe
Both the Treaty of Nice and the Treaty of Lisbon require implementing decisions for the new Commission, different depending on the applicable treaty (and the Irish guarantees).
If the Irish approve the Lisbon Treaty in the 2 October 2009 referendum, the European Union would have been able to nominate, to approve and to appoint the new Commission, which should take office on 1 November 2009, almost in time.
For the European Union and its member states, President Vaclav Klaus and the defeated Czech Senators have turned anxiety ahead of the vote in Ireland into a severe headache for Europe.
The Swedish Council Presidency, the EU institutions and the member states have nine days, until 2 October 2009, to prepare their course of action with regard to the legal, political and practical problems.
If the Irish vote Yes – as all the member states hope – clear guidelines are needed to prevent paralysis of the European Union.
EU citizens have a right to be fully informed.