David Blackburn

One last chance on Lisbon?

One last chance on Lisbon?
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The Independent reports that the Czech Republic’s Euroscpetic President, Vaclav Klaus, is seeking to opt-out of the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. His argument is that Charter, which would come into force as soon as the Lisbon treaty was ratified, will lessen national sovereignty over social policy. During negotiations at the time of the treaty’s inception, the UK and Poland obtained a “protocol” measure to ensure that the Charter didn’t create new rights – effectively the last gasp opt-out the Czech seek now.

Klaus describes his request as a “footnote”; it’s anything but. EU diplomats make it clear that negotiations would have to open. A spokesman said:

“I repeat: At no point did the Czech government ask for this opt-out during Treaty negotiations. The ball is now in the court of the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer - he'll have to decide if he wants to risk re-opening the Treaty negotiations, because that is what will be involved.”

Whether or not the Czechs will take that risk, for re-opening negotiations would throw a spanner in the works and possibly endanger the Czech’s membership, is doubtful. But this development offers British Eurosceptics a glimmer of hope because there is no such thing as a brief discussion in Brussels. It’s a slim chance, but real enough. Watch this space.