Lisbon Treaty in sight for EU after Czechs agree

vaclav_klausThe European Union was days away Friday from ratification of the Lisbon Treaty after the president of the Czech Republic - the remaining holdout in negotiations - agreed to approve it.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus agreed to sign the document after winning an exception Thursday night ensuring the Lisbon Treaty does not allow ethnic Germans forced out of the country after World War II to reclaim their former land.

Only one more hurdle remains: The Czech Constitutional Court is considering a legal challenge from Czech senators to the treaty, but it was widely expected that the court would reject it.

"If they decide that this is not in conflict with the Czech constitution, Klaus has said he will sign the treaty - and if he does that in the month of November, it will come into force on the first of December," said Minna Fryden Bonnier, a spokeswoman for the Swedish presidency of the EU.

Poland and Britain have also won their own exemptions to Lisbon. In Poland's case, it recently won an opt-out over social issues including gay marriage; Britain won assurances that EU law would not prevail over its own legal system.

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