France takes over EU presidency under Lisbon Treaty cloud

July 1st, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, July 1 (DPA) France assumed the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union(EU) Tuesday under the cloud of the refusal by Polish President Lech Kaczynski to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. The announcement by Kaczynski, in an interview published Tuesday in the daily Dziennik, that its rejection last month by Irish voters had made the treaty “for the moment … pointless” was a huge blow to the European ambitions of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Late Monday, in a nationally televised interview, Sarkozy had said that he would try to reduce the question of the Lisbon Treaty to the Irish, while the other EU members continued with its ratification.

But Kaczynski’s refusal to sign the treaty will no doubt encourage the eurosceptic Czech government to do likewise later this year, throwing the union into a deep institutional crisis during Sarkozy’s term as acting EU president

It will also put a freeze on the EU’s plans to accept new members, such as Croatia.

“There will be no enlargement of Europe if we can not reform its institutions,” Sarkozy said Monday.

Sarkozy had named four priorities for the French EU presidency: defence, immigration, the environment and agriculture. He also said he wanted to draw up measures to counteract soaring oil prices.

“I want to give Europe a healthy shock,” Sarkozy said Monday.

But the uncertain fate of the Lisbon Treaty, which the French president helped to create, will no doubt force him to scale back his ambitions significantly.

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