EU - European Parliament approve Lisbon Treaty
European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the EU's reforming Lisbon Treaty, aimed at replacing the bloc's constitution
STRASBOURG, February 21, 2008 - The European Parliament on Wednesday
overwhelmingly approved the EU's reforming Lisbon Treaty, aimed at replacing
the bloc's constitution which was scuppered by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
The parliament in Strasbourg endorsed the treaty with 525 votes in favour
against 115 against with 29 abstentions.
"The treaty is a political solution, a compromise to get us out of the
crisis, the impasse. But it also gives the European Union all the instruments
to respond to the concerns of the citizens," said Spanish conservative MEP
Inigo Mendez de Vigo, one of the authors of a parliamentary report on the
"We are opening the path to a good number of our ambitions," he said of the
treaty which was signed by EU heads of state and government in the Portuguese
capital in December.
All 27 EU member states must individually ratify the wide-ranging text for
it to come into effect, as planned, next year.
So far five -- France, Hungary, Malta, Romania and Slovenia -- have
ratified the treaty. Only Ireland is constitutionally bound to put it to the
sort of unpredictable plebiscite which torpedoed the original constitutional
Eurosceptics say the Lisbon Treaty is practically identical to that
constitution and there are calls in several member states for referendums.
Like the rejected constitution, the Lisbon treaty proposes creating a post
of president, for two-and-a-half-year terms, to replace the six-month rotation
A European foreign policy supremo is also included in the text which was
painstakingly drawn up and agreed, thanks in part to key policy opt-outs to
Britain and Poland.
The charter cuts the size of the European Parliament and the number of EU
decisions which require unanimous support, thus reducing national vetoes.
It also includes a European charter of fundamental human and legal rights,
which Britain and Poland have refused to make binding.
However it drops all references to an EU flag or anthem which had fanned
eurosceptic fears of another step towards a federal Europe.
European Commission vice president Margot Wallstrom admitted that "the
treaty is not perfect, but that's the price you have to pay for reaching an
agreement by consensus".