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Germany ratifies EU’s Lisbon reform treaty

Published on 24/09/2009

Berlin — Germany ratified the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday, leaving only three more countries in the 27-member bloc still to clear the landmark reforms, designed to make the EU run more smoothly.

President Horst Koehler put his signature to the treaty, a spokesman said, the final step needed for ratification.

Koehler’s signing of the treaty means that only Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic have not yet ratified the treaty, which needs to be passed unanimously.

"I am very satisfied. I invested a great deal of energy in the Lisbon treaty," Chancellor Angela Merkel told public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk ahead of Sunday’s general election in Germany.

Ireland, which threw the European Union into institutional chaos by rejecting the treaty in a referendum last year, plans to hold a second vote on the issue on October 2 and polls show Irish voters will vote "yes" this time.

Warsaw and Prague have said they will not sign the treaty, which aims to streamline decision-making in the bloc, until Ireland gives its green light.

Germany’s ratification of the treaty follows a shock decision by the country’s top court in June that the treaty must be put on ice until legislation safeguarding national parliamentary power was passed.

This sparked months of political horse-trading and debate on European affairs before Germany’s main parties drafted a revised law to satisfy the court’s concerns and ensure the EU "does not exceed the powers given to it."

The new law states that the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, must be consulted if changes are made, for example, to Germany’s veto rights and must be informed sooner and more comprehensively about proposed EU legislation.

The Lisbon Treaty is designed to replace the current Nice Treaty, drawn up when the bloc was around half its current size.

If it comes into force, the EU would do away with the present unwieldy system of the rotating presidency in favour of selecting a leader for a limited term. A powerful foreign policy supremo would also be appointed.