For the member states of the European Union the last ratification instrument to be deposited with the Government of Italy is going to determine when the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, but time is running short ahead of the next European Council.
The unclear situation in the Czech Republic casts a shadow over the preparations, but the time has come to inform and to involve the EU citizens.
Here is a brief look at the timetable for the end of this month.
21 October 2009: The ambassadors meet in the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States (COREPER II) to discuss the preparations for the General Affairs and External Relations Council formation (GAERC), notably the draft conclusions for the European Council.
21 October: In the morning the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, hears and debates the statements of the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council and of the Commission on the preparations for the European Council. (During the afternoon the Parliament discusses how the European External Action Service EEAS should be organised.)
26 October: GAERC meets in session on General Affairs, to lay the table for the heads of state or government.
27 October: The Czech Constitutional Court in Brno hears arguments concerning the compatibility of the Treaty of Rome and its successors with the Czech Constitutions, as well as to decide when it is going to give its eagerly awaited ruling on the latest complaints.
29 to 30 October: The European Council convenes.
31 October: The term of office of the Barroso I Commission ends.
To do list
The member states need to find a solution to the Czech and now also Slovak requests for a declaration concerning the inapplicability of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on property claims by ethnic Germans expelled after WW2.
Temporary measures are needed to keep the Commission going, and clarity is needed with regard to the new Commission.
The European Parliament is waiting for the entry into force of the Lisbon rules, which will give it a more equal role as a co-legislator with the Council.
The Commission posts, the new President of the European Council, the new High Representative/Vice-President and the next Secretary-General of the Council are subject to much speculation, but public information has been scant. If the leaders want to diminish the gap between the EU and its citizens, they should opt for public nominations and open debates before the decisions are taken.
Preparatory work is needed for the European External Action Service, but little information has been forthcoming (except for the leaked position paper by the Benelux countries).
The amended Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament would enter into force with the Lisbon Treaty, but preparations for the Rules of Procedure of the European Council and amendments to those of the Council and the Commission, as well as other implementing decisions have not been communicated to the public.
Openness is going to be the first test of the Lisbon Treaty. Let us hope that the Swedish Presidency opens a new Lisbon era in the history of the Council, beginning at tomorrow’s debate in the European Parliament.