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					       EU Constitutional Treaty and the CEE-8 Countries1:
         Intergovernmental Conference and Ratification




                                 Dr. Toms Rostoks2
                     Professor, Department of Political Science,
                                University of Latvia
                                          rostoks@lanet.lv




      It may be ironic, but the EU Constitutional Treaty received more publicity after
French and Dutch „no” votes than during discussions in the European Convention,
Intergovernmental conference (IGC) and after successful ratification in several EU
member-states. Although related to the peace-disturbing events in France and
Netherlands, this paper aims to analyze positions during the IGC and behavior during
the following ratification process of the CEE-8 countries – Slovenia, Hungary, Slovak
Republic, Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – that joined the EU in
2004.
      The process of designing and ratifying the Constitutional Treaty can be roughly
divided into three parts: the Convention part, the IGC part and the ratification part. This
paper aims to look upon the latter two stages because then the qualitative status of the
CEE-8 countries was different3. The ratification part is analyzed up to the French and
Dutch referendums because afterwards the debate focused more upon the issue of
whether it was necessary to continue with ratification process rather than issues related
to the Constitutional Treaty itself until the Treaty was pronounced “dead” despite the
fact that Latvia and Luxembourg ratified it even after both “no” votes. Due to the fact
that public awareness during the constitutional debate was very weak4, this paper would
focus on government positions, while also including public attitudes when relevant.
      The research question that it aims to answer is what were the positions of the CEE-
8 countries during the IGC that followed the European Convention and what issues

1
  CEE-8 countries include Hungary, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania,
Latvia and Estonia.
2
  Toms Rostoks is a lecturer and a Ph.D. student at the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social
Sciences, University of Latvia.
3
  The final deal was reached only 1.5 months after 1 May 2004 when accession countries became member
states of the EU.
4
  Weakness of public discussion was mentioned by David Kral, Marta Darulova and Tamas Novak
characterizing constitutional debate in Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Hungary respectively. Civil
Society Aspects in the Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum –
Institute for European Policy. 2004.


                                                    1
were/are at stake during the ratification process in these countries? It is not the goal of
this paper to compare CEE-8 countries with the EU-15 member states. However, it will
be difficult to avoid this comparison altogether.
      The paper is divided into three parts. The first chapter highlights the timetable and
the context of the Constitutional Treaty design and ratification process. Second chapter
deals with positions of CEE-8 countries during the IGC debate, and the third chapter
concentrates on analysis of main issues for discussion during the ratification process in
the CEE-8 countries up to the French and Dutch referendums. The third chapter is
followed by conclusions.

I. Background and timetable of the EU Constitutional Treaty
      The European Council at Nice in December 2000 reached an agreement with the
aim to adapt Union’s institutions in response to enlargement. However, the agreement
that was made in Nice, did not adequately prepare the EU for the upcoming
enlargement5, therefore even as a component of the Nice Treaty, the Council adopted a
declaration on the future of the EU. It envisaged three stages of revising the existing
Treaties: open debate, structured debate and IGC. It was a different strategy to prepare
change in the EU because it had become clear by that time that IGC’s alone were not
the best way to change the existing or draw new treaties. The experience of rather
lengthy European Council meetings that stretched well into late evening hours provided
enough evidence that this was a bad way to decide on the future of the EU. Therefore it
was decided that the next IGC would be prepared in a different way.
      A year later in Laeken the European Council decided to organize a Convention that
was supposed to identify and produce recommendations on the future development of
the EU. Although this paper focuses upon Intergovernmental conference and ratification
process that followed signing the Constitutional Treaty in Rome on 29 October, 2004, it
is also necessary to highlight the timetable, according to which the EU Constitutional
Treaty was designed.
      14-15 December 2001 – European Council of EU Heads of State or Government in
Laeken decided to establish a Convention on the Future of Europe6. It was composed of
105 representatives from EU member and candidate states’ governments, national
parliaments and the EU institutions7. The Convention was designed to bring forward


5
  There are, however, different opinions on this account, for example, Richard Baldwin argues that it is
false to presume that the Constitutional Treaty was necessary to meet the challenges of enlargement.
Baldwin thinks that the only role of the Treaty was to „fix the omissions and mistakes of the Nice Treaty
(e.g. the composition of Commission, voting rules, etc.). [...] one strong reason for the leaders who were
at Nice (Blair, Chirac and Schroeder inter alia) since it was a face-saving device that allowed them to
correct their mistake without admitting an error.” Baldwin, R. Five Critical Fallacies about French and
Dutch Rejections. CEPR, June, 2005.
6
  Chronology of the new EU Constitutional Treaty. The European Movement. 04.04.2005.
7
  Composition of the Convention: Chairman (Valèry Giscard d’Estaing), 2 Vice-Chairmen (Giuliano
Amato and Jean-Luc Dehaene), 15 representatives of the Heads of State or Government of the member
states, 30 representatives of National parliaments of the member states, 16 representatives from the
European Parliament, 2 representatives from the European Commission, 10 representatives of the Heads
of State or Government of the accession candidate countries, 20 representatives of the National
parliaments of the accession candidate countries. Apart from the positions of Chairman and Vice-
Chairmen every member of the Convention had an alternative who could replace him/her in case he/she
wouldn’t be able to participate in the proceedings. The Convention also had observers from several EU
institutions: 6 observers from the Committee of Regions, 3 observers from Economic and Social
Committee, 3 observers from European Social Partners and European Ombudsman.


                                                    2
recommendations for the next IGC8. Not only EU member states were full participants
in the Convention discussions, but also accession candidate countries (10 CEE countries,
Turkey, Malta and Cyprus) were represented there and took full part. However, these
countries could not exert influence over any consensus that might be reached among the
EU-15 member states9.
      28 February 2002 – the Convention was launched at the end of February, 2002, in
Brussels, chaired by the former French President, Valèry Giscard d’Estaing. It met until
10 July, 2003.
      28 October 2002 – it took almost 8 months for Convention to produce first
preliminary draft of the EU Constitutional Treaty that was presented to the Convention
by Valèry Giscard d’Estaing.
      19-21 June 2003 – the almost final version of the Constitutional Treaty was
submitted to the European Council in Thessaloniki. Although it was planned that this
would be a finalized document, it was only partly ready for the Thessaloniki summit,
and it took four more weeks until 18 July 2003 to finalize it. The final Draft Treaty
establishing a Constitution for Europe was submitted during the Italian EU Presidency
in Rome.
      4 October 2003 – although Valèry Giscard d’Estaing’s position on the „opening”
of the draft treaty was „take it or leave it”, the states that participated in the process of
crafting the EU Constitution were less cautious on opening it., and, in fact, it was also in
the interests of the Italian Presidency of the EU that the Constitutional gets adopted
before the of 2003 because that would be symbolic a event of adopting „new Treaty of
Rome”. However, in the light of member and accession candidate countries willingness
to discuss some of the controversies left in the text of the draft treaty, it soon became
clear that the IGC would not be finished by the end of 2003. It was decided that, in
order to comfort Italy’s disappointment about the fact that the IGC wasn’t finished in
2003, Rome would be the place where the Treaty would be signed. The IGC was
launched on 4 October 2003 and it met until 18 June 2004.
      17-18 June 2004 – followed by the failure to reach final agreement on a new
constitutional treaty in Brussels 12-13 December 2003, the final deal was reached
during the Irish Presidency in Brussels.
      29 October 2004 – the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was signed in
Rome by all 25 member state governments. It was decided that the Treaty was subject
to ratification by all 25 member states in accordance with their individual constitutional
provisions – either by parliamentary approval or by national referendum – before it
might enter into force on 1 November 2006 at the earliest.
      Since the end of October 2004 the Constitutional Treaty has been ratified either by
parliamentary approval or by national referendum in Lithuania (parliamentary approval),
Hungary (parliamentary approval), Slovenia (parliamentary approval), Spain (popular
referendum), Italy (parliamentary approval), Austria (parliamentary approval), Latvia
(parliamentary approval), Malta (parliamentary approval), Cyprus (parliamentary
approval), Luxembourg (popular referendum), Slovakia (parliamentary approval),

8
  It is important to note that the main task as it was set out in the Laeken Declaration to come up with
recommendations for the next IGC. Constitutional Treaty was not the initial goal of the Convention,
although Constitution was mentioned that Constitution might be the ultimate goal of the process that
would be started at the Convention. The Future of the European Union – Laeken Declaration. European
Council. 15.12.2001. http://europa.eu.int/constitution/futurum/documents/offtext/doc151201_en.htm
9
  Hussain, N., Hudson, G.M. and Whitman, R. Referendums on the EU Constitutional Treaty: The State
of Play. Chatham House, February, 2005.


                                                    3
Belgium (parliamentary approval), Greece (parliamentary approval) and Germany
(parliamentary approval).
     Although most countries succeeded in ratifying the Constitutional Treaty,
referendums in France and Netherlands, where majority of population voted against the
Treaty, largely distorted the ratification process, and it has been put on a complete halt
as several countries such as Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Denmark that were
previously planning to hold referendums shelved their ratification plans after the
decision of the European Council summit in June 2005. The target date for the
Constitutional Treaty to enter into force was originally set for 1 November 2006, but
with population „no” votes in referendums in Netherlands and France, the question is
not about the exact date when Constitutional Treaty might enter into force, but rather if
it will enter into force because although some countries such as Latvia, Malta,
Luxembourg and others have pressed forward with ratification, other countries as
Poland and Czech Republic are not keen to ratify the Treaty.

II. CEE-8 countries in the IGC

      After the CEE-8 countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004 their attention shifted
from terms of accession’s negotiations to the views and perspectives of their place and
their role inside the EU or in other words – the quality of membership. One of the issues
that required immediate attention from decision-makers in these countries was the
Constitutional Treaty. All CEE-8 countries accepted the draft of the Constitutional
Treaty, as it was presented by the Convention in June 2003 (and elaborated in detail in
July 2003), nevertheless, the IGC had to cope with several controversial issues.
      The IGC showed that there were some similarities in positions of the CEE-8
countries, especially when it came to guiding principles such as wish to preserve the
institutional balance, maintaining the current number of institutions and ensuring more
transparency and openness. Apart from similarities, the newcomers exhibited
considerable differences that made it impossible to regard the CEE-8 countries as a
homogenous group because each country demonstrated its own political and strategic
interests 10 . This chapter will deal with differences in the country positions as they
emerged during the IGC that discussed the Constitutional Treaty.
      The second stage of the IGC during the Irish Presidency was marked, first, by
„silence” after failure to reach consensus during the December 2003 summit and,
second, by extensive negotiations February and March 2004 in order to find a
compromise that might lead to the final agreement. The report of the Irish Presidency on
24 March 2004 stated that most of the disagreements were settled, the most difficult
remaining of those being the size and composition of the Commission and the definition
and scope of QMV11.
      It also has to be noted that CEE-8 countries participated in the IGC negotiations as
full members. The candidate countries Bulgaria and Romania were granted a status of
observers.



10
   Franck, C. and Pyszna-Nigge, D. New Members, IGC and the Constitutional Treaty. Positions of
acceding countries from Central Europe in the debate on the EU future. Second annual report for the
project „CEEC – DEBATE”. October, 2004.
11
   Conference of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States. Presidency Note. CIG
70/04, Brussels, 24 March 2004.


                                                  4
Poland
      Poland is probably the most interesting case among the CEE-8 countries not only
because it is the biggest country that joined the EU in 2004, but also because Polish
position in the IGC caused much turmoil. In general, Polish attitudes towards European
integration process are very positive, although, relations between Poland and the EU-15
were seen as very unequal during the pre-accession period, and most of population
thought that situation after accession will first become worse and only after that people
expected positive changes 12 . It might be argued that people supported integration
politically, but were concerned about its potential economic and social impact that it
might have on society.
      The tone of debate changed after the accession referendum in Poland, and that
happened largely because of the Constitutional Treaty discussions. The proposal to
abolish the system of weighted votes that was adopted in Nice raised fears that Poland
together with other poorer member states might become marginalized. Poland’s most
crucial concern was that its share of votes in the Council would be diminished as a
result of replacing the Nice provisions with double majority. Poland (together with
Spain) would become the biggest loser from this replacement, therefore for Poland the
issue of weighted votes was by far the most important issue on the agenda of the IGC.
This reason led to the notorious „Nice or death” slogan13 prior to the December 2003
summit in Brussels, although Poland was always of the opinion that the EU could
function efficiently on the basis of the Nice Treaty. After the failed December summit
where Poland was made a scapegoat14 there was a change in the behavior of all the
member states that signaled a possibility for a compromise. Poland also declared that
the final solution may be based on the double majority system. The final deal
(compromise) – 55% states representing 65% of population together with the safeguard
clause15 was met with mixed reactions in Poland.
      Christianity was not mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty as a
source of European values. It was clearly perceived as an injustice done to historical
reality. Provisions of structured cooperation were seen as a threat to unity of NATO and
EU because these provisions might be used as an attempt to justify the so-called „two-
speed Europe” 16 . However, in the course of the IGC it was not a principal worry


12
   Kucharczyk, J. Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in Poland. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.46.
13
   For the first time the famous „Nice or death” slogan was pronounced on the 18 September 2003 during
the debate in the Polish parliament by the leader of the opposition party „Civic Platform” Jan Rokita. EU-
25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.45.
14
   Polish officials stressed the fact that there were no negotiations in Brussels and no one wanted to
discuss the compromise put forward by Poland. Especially reluctant to discuss possible compromises was
France. According to Polish minister of foreign affairs Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Poland did not adopt a
strictly nationalist view on the Constitutional Treaty and put forward several interesting compromise
proposals, but they were never seriously discussed. EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. 46. lpp.
15
   If the coalition of member states dissatisfied with the decision represents at least 75% of either the
number of states or population, the decision cannot be taken and the member states are obliged to discuss
it further within a reasonable amount of time. EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. 46. lpp.
16
   In fact, the idea of „two-speed” Europe was revived by the French President Jacques Chirac after the
Brussels summit in December 2003, thus fuelling Polish fears. After constitutional debacle, Poland rejects
two-speed Europe. 14.12.2003. www.eubusiness.com


                                                    5
because it was not discussed with the same intensity as it was done during the previous
IGCs.
      The principle ‘one country – one commissioner’ was violated in the Draft
Constitutional Treaty17. Polish governments have always been in favor of keeping this
principle, but it has never been Poland’s first priority. The final deal at the IGC (with an
idea to reduce the number of commissioners after 2014) was considered to be
satisfactory because the idea started to gain ground that it is better to have an important
portfolio every second Commission rather than very five years delegate a commissioner
whose responsibilities are widely regarded as unimportant.
      Besides the four already mentioned concerns some more issues might be
considered as controversial during the IGC debate. Poland did not draw any red lines
during the IGC. For the sake of efficiency Poland was ready to support extension of
qualified majority into Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) area, but it was against
extension of principles of QMV into taxation, social policy and foreign and security
policy.
      Other Polish concerns included allocation of seats in the European Parliament,
stability and growth pact and balance between EU institutions18, however, in none of
these areas Polish interests became seriously challenged. Poland was not the strongest
supporter of a strong President of the European Council, therefore it was pleased with
the outcome where President would be un-influential.
      After the failed European Council December summit and the change of
government in Poland that followed it, debate mainly focused not only upon the
possible compromise that might be achieved during the Irish Presidency, but also upon
negative consequences of alienating Poland’s key partners in the EU (especially,
Germany). Poland’s new Prime Minister Marek Belka in face of growing criticism both
domestically and internationally and after change of government in Spain decided to
accept the Constitutional Treaty with additional security provisions19. This soon became
known as „white flag policy”, and many Poles had an impression that government did
not do enough to protect interests of its people.

Czech Republic
     Debate on the Constitutional Treaty in Czech Republic was very weak, although a
National Forum 20 was organized to mobilize opinions of civil society. This was so
because there was still a parallel and more important discussion on country’s EU
membership going on. The main actor in the debate on the Constitutional Treaty was
government and central administration because it had to represent the Czech Republic at
the IGC. Only few civil society groups were active during discussions21.


17
   Kucharczyk, J. Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in Poland. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.47.
18
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p. 47.
19
   Kucharczyk, J. Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in Poland. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.48.
20
   Similar forums (National Conventions) were organized also in other CEE-8 countries in order to
discuss questions posed in Laeken declaration on the future of Europe.
21
   Kral, D. Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in the Czech Republic. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.32.


                                                    6
      Although the number of participants in the debate was rather small, the discussion
itself on the political level was rather polarized. The important and controversial issues
for Czech Republic were the President of the Council and composition of the
Commission because the government sought to ensure that the Constitutional Treaty
includes guarantees of equal treatment of member states irrespectively of their size and
level of economic development. In comparison to Poland Czech Republic had less
objections when the IGC took off.
      It is also worth mentioning that the Czech President Vaclav Klaus is probably the
most euroskeptic head of state in the EU. Having chaired the right-wing Civic
Democratic Party (also known as „Eurorealist” party) he hasn’t even tried to hide his
critical attitudes towards the Constitutional Treaty. Klaus has sharply criticized the
Constitutional Treaty saying that it is a radical text that represents a danger for
freedom22. Besides, he was the only head of the new member states that did not call on
his people to vote in favor of accession during the EU accession referendum23.
      The real political debate in the Czech Republic on the Constitutional Treaty started
on 7 October 2003 when government asked for a mandate for the IGC. Although the
debate itself was very general, this is rather bizarre because the IGC started on 4
October 2003 – three days before the debate was held in Czech parliament24.
      The Czech agenda for the IGC was dominated by a single issue – it was decided to
push through the issue of equality of member states in nominating European
commissioners25. ‘One state – one commissioner’ principle together with the abolition
of division of the Commission into voting and non-voting commissioners became the
dominating interest on the agenda of the Czech Republic at the IGC. However, the
Czech Republic’s position changed slightly during the IGC. The initial position
gradually gave way to the issue of QMV26 where Czech position, in fact, also proved to
be rather flexible. The Czech proposition for the new QMV system was the parity
system – 55% of votes and 55% of population27. This system would allow to have a
balanced compromise between effectiveness, balance between big and small countries
and a space for creating positive rather than blocking coalitions28.
      Czech Republic was satisfied with the achieved result, as far as the extension of
QMV to new areas was concerned. It wanted to preserve a compromise between
efficiency and necessity for a broader consensus-building. QMV was introduced to 44
new areas, but there were issues such as financial perspectives, taxes, foreign policy and
22
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.17.
23
   Kral, D. Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in the Czech Republic. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.35.
24
   Ibid. p.36.
25
   Czech Republic 2003/2004. Entering the EU. Dusek, L. and Jurajda, S. (eds.). CERGE-EI, Czech
Republic, 2004. p.74.
26
   The Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla went to the December 2003 Brussels summit prepared to abandon
the country’s rigid stand on ‘one state – one commissioner’ principle because this issue already seemed to
be off the agenda and already settled. Suddenly, the deal on voting became Czech Republic’s priority.
Kral, D. The Czech reaction to the IGC failure – disillusion or indifference? Institute for European
Policy – Europeum. http://www.epin.org/pdf/BC_Kral.pdf
27
   Petr Kratochvil argues at the beginning of the IGC in 2003 that the good starting point for discussion
would be the parity system of 60%-60% because the system of simple majority of member states and 60%
of population would be more advantageous for the big countries. Therefore it seems that the big states
have given up the idea of simple majority of member states in return for higher percentage of population
in the final deal. Kratochvil, P. Qualified Majority Voting and the Interests of the Czech Republic.
Conference paper. 2003.
28
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.16.


                                                    7
defense where Czech Republic insisted on preserving unanimity because application of
QMV to these areas might threaten stability of the EU29.
     Other issues such as allocation of seats in the European Parliament, Stability and
Growth Pact, clarification of the European Foreign Minister position, explanation of the
„structured cooperation” principle and, quite surprisingly, inclusion of a reference to the
Christian roots of European civilization into the Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty30,
were considered of lesser importance.

Slovak Republic
      In the June 2004 when the final text of the Constitutional Treaty was agreed upon
by the EU member states, Slovak Republic perceived it as a compromise that wouldn’t
be possible to achieve without member states’ willingness to give up some of its
initially stated priorities. For the sake of the compromise Slovakia backed away from
the ‘one state – one commissioner’ principle. Although Slovakia was satisfied with the
results of the IGC, it has been noted in Slovakia that the goals of simplifying the
decision-making mechanisms and of bringing the text of primary law closer to citizens
have not been fulfilled to extent that it was originally expected31.
      Slovakia’s most sensitive issue during the IGC was the composition of the
Commission. The goal was to maintain the principle ‘one state – one commissioner’.
Although the results of the IGC were somewhat different from Slovak expectations32,
they were perceived as satisfactory. Other important issues were voting arrangement
and enhanced cooperation. Slovakia was in favor of maintaining the voting mechanism
agreed in Nice, but it was far more flexible on this issue than Poland. When it was clear
that Nice system would be replaced, Slovakia decided that the outcome of the IGC
(55% of member state votes and 65% of population) was a better result than the system
that was proposed earlier (50% of member state votes and 60% of population).
Regarding the possibility for enhanced cooperation among the member states, Slovakia
supported the principle of openness in enhanced cooperation and reformulation of the
structured cooperation33.
      Regarding the „red lines” Slovakia’s position was similar to those of some other
countries. Slovakia opposed introduction of QMV into taxation, social policy and
defense areas. The country was also against the weakening of the principle of unanimity
in areas of criminal law, justice and police cooperation, asylum, migration and culture.
Slovakia was also in favor of putting a reference to the Christian roots of European




29
   Ibid. p.17.
30
   David Kral argues that the latter objective appeared on the priority list of the government of the Czech
Republic quite unexpectedly because Czechs are among the least religious nations in Europe. Kral, D.
Debate on the Draft Constitutional Treaty in the Czech Republic. Civil Society Aspects in the Discussion
on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European Policy.
2004. p.34.
31
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.51.
32
   The compromise on the composition of the Commission keeps the principle ‘one state – one
commissioner’ until 2014 and then reduces the number of commissioners to two thirds of all member
states. The compromise solution thus draws on the Nice Treaty that presumed the lowering of the number
of commissioners once the EU enlarges to 27 member states. Ibid. p.51.
33
   Ibid. p.51.


                                                     8
civilization in the Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty, but this was not the most
important issue on the government’s agenda34.



Hungary
      Hungary was among those countries that sought to reach an agreement during the
IGC already during the December summit because it was anxious about some member
states’ speculations about European integration at different speeds. Hungary evaluated
the results of the IGC as satisfactory and was of opinion that the final version of the
Treaty complied to Hungarian national interests even better than the initial version. It is
worth mentioning that Hungary managed to put protection for minority rights on the list
of Union’s values. 35.
      Before turning to sensitive issues, it has to be taken into account that Hungary is a
pro-integrationist country that defended necessity to decrease the number of fields
requiring unanimous decisions36. However, it had several sensitivities. First, Hungary
did not support the idea of having commissioners with and without voting rights.
Nevertheless, the outcome of the IGC where each country has its own commissioner
until 2014 and the shrinking of the Commission’s size afterwards was considered as an
acceptable solution if rotation procedure is strictly equal and the principle of
transparency is not violated. Second, on the issue of voting arrangement system
Hungary’s initial position was to support Nice agreement. Later Hungary was in favor
of the parity system (60% of member state votes and 60% of population), but the
adopted system (55% of member state votes and 65% of population) was also
acceptable37.
      Interestingly, Hungary was among those member states that did not
unconditionally stick to unanimity in any EU policy, thus supporting extension of QMV.
The difference from Poland, Slovak Republic and Czech Republic was that Hungary did
not draw any strict „red lines”.
      Regarding the issue of allocation of seats in the European Parliament Hungary did
not have explicit interests because this problem was settled earlier when under the Nice
provisions Hungary would get two seats less than three other member states with
exactly the same size of population. But since then these numbers were corrected and
rounded up to 2438.
      Hungary was of opinion that the Stability and Growth Pact was too inflexible, but
it also shared the view that application of a more complex system would threaten
monetary stability of the EU. On the issue of enhanced cooperation Hungary
contributed to other countries’ efforts to ensure that the principle of openness would be
applied to any future enhanced cooperation initiatives. When it came to the issue of
balance between the EU institutions, Hungary declared that its interest was to maintain


34
   Darulova, M. Discussion about the EU Constitutional Treaty in Slovakia. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.41.
35
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.31.
36
   Novak, T. The Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty in Hungary. Civil Society Aspects in the
Discussion on the EU Constitutional Treaty. Conference proceedings. Europeum – Institute for European
Policy. 2004. p.52.
37
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.31.
38
   Ibid. p.31.


                                                   9
the system of rotating presidencies and not to create the post of the EU President39. In
general, Hungary was satisfied with the outcomes of the IGC on the latter two issues
because, first, the role of the EU President would be that of chairman and not that of an
assertive political figure 40 and, second, rotation system would be preserved at the
Council of Ministers level as well as the ‘one state – one commissioner’ principle would
be maintained until 2014.

Slovenia
      The position of Slovenia was that the Constitutional Treaty would bring many
gains. Although country’s Prime Minister declared that Slovenian demands were
realized up to 105% or even 110%, Slovenia was sensitive to some issues. These
included composition of the Commission, QMV voting arrangements, allocation of
seats in the European Parliament, enhanced cooperation and balance between EU
institutions41.
      Slovenian government was defending the principle ‘one state- one commissioner’
(also ‘one commissioner – one vote’) because that was perceived as the strongest
manifestation of equality between smaller and bigger countries. Interestingly, as it
became clear that the composition of Commission would be changed, but
implementation of the actual change would not be realized until 2014, Slovenia argued
that it would be better to negotiate composition of the Commission right before the
change takes place rather than determined during Convention or IGC debates42. When
this idea was not implemented, Slovenia agreed that the number of commissioners
would be reduced in 2014, but added that it was unlikely that an enlarged Union would
be able to function with 18-20 commissioners.
      Regarding the voting procedure Slovenia supported the double majority voting
system with both of its components – population and majority of the EU member
states – being equally important (parity system). When both components were separated
and parity principle – abandoned, Slovenia decided to agree with the double majority
formula proposed by Ireland with 55% of the member state and 65% of population
majority. This system was regarded in Slovenia as beneficial for small states.
      Slovenia initially agreed to the lowest number of five seats in the European
Parliament, but when it was decided to raise the minimum number of seats to six,
Slovenia expressed satisfaction with this decision. Slovenia’s position on the enhanced
cooperation issue was that countries should go ahead with enhanced cooperation
initiative only if at least half of the member states would opt of such cooperation, but
this proposal did not succeed. Slovenia was in favor of a weak President of the Council,
and it welcomed establishment of a post of the EU Foreign Minister. It was also in
Slovenia’s interests that rotation on the level of Council of Ministers was preserved
(though in somewhat modified form43).

39
   Ibid. p.32.
40
   Hungary accepted creation of a position of a President of the Council under the condition that his role
would be rather limited. The Hungarian perspective was that he/she shouldn’t coordinate the activities of
the different Council formations because this task should remain with the General Affairs Council. Franck,
C. and Pyszna-Nigge, D. New Members, IGC and the Constitutional Treaty. Positions of acceding
countries from Central Europe in the debate on the EU future. Second annual report for the project
„CEEC – DEBATE”. October, 2004. p. 14.
41
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.53.
42
   Ibid. p.53.
43
   For a detailed description on the provisions for the Council of Ministers rotating presidency see The
CER guide to the EU’s constitutional treaty. Center for European Reform. Policy Brief, July 2004. p.3.


                                                   10
Lithuania
     Lithuania’s government officials almost unanimously congratulated the adoption
of the Constitutional Treaty in June 2004. However, not all Lithuania’s suggestions44
were taken into account such as the composition of the Commission and the reference to
the Christian roots in the Preamble.
     Although the overall mood in Lithuania after the final agreement was reached at
the IGC was positive, some sensitivities emerged during the IGC debates. First,
Lithuania strongly opposed to reduction in the number of commissioners, but later
acknowledged that the compromise was possible. Lithuania would only be able after
2014 to delegate its representative to two successive Commissions out of three, but the
compromise was possible because the bigger countries as Germany, France and Great
Britain would be in a similar position45.
     During the Convention Lithuanian government favored Nice voting arrangements,
but later during the IGC its position started to shift from weighted voting towards
double majority system. The issue regarding the double majority system was
proportions of voting. Lithuania was satisfied with the final deal because it was always
stressed that the country’s influence in the EU decision-making system depends more
on its ability to articulate interests and form coalitions rather than on its size and number
of population46 . Although Lithuania was cautious on drawing „red lines” because it
believed that extension of the QMV would allow to participate in the decision-making
process and not just to block the decisions, Lithuania wanted to keep the consensus
voting in areas of taxation and security and defense policy.
     Allocation of seats in the European Parliament was never seriously discussed
because it was always repeated that small states were better represented in the EU than
bigger states. Power limitations of the President of the Council were especially
welcomed in Lithuania because one of the goals was to maintain the balance between
EU institutions. It was regretted that Christian values were not mentioned in the
Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty because Lithuania is predominantly Catholic
country, and the influence of the Catholic Church is strong there.

Latvia
     As Dzintra Bungs argues, Latvia was among those CEE-8 countries where in-depth
discussion on issues that were discussed during the IGC was almost absent 47 .
Nevertheless, at the outset of IGC Latvia formulated several interests. These included
‘one state – one commissioner’ principle, arrangements and focus of the CFSP, number
of representatives in the European Parliament and possibility of creating a special
council on legislation. Latvia’s position was that each country should be entitled to have
its own commissioner and the minimum representation at the European Parliament
should be at least 5 MEPs. Within CFSP the same conditions should apply to all


44
   Lithuania together with other six small member states of the EU (Hungary, Finland, Slovenia, Czech
Republic, Malta and Austria) sent the open letter to the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with
additional suggestions to the IGC agenda. Franck, C. and Pyszna-Nigge, D. New Members, IGC and the
Constitutional Treaty. Positions of acceding countries from Central Europe in the debate on the EU future.
Second annual report for the project „CEEC – DEBATE”. October, 2004. p. 11.
45
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.38.
46
   Ibid. p.38.
47
   Ibid. p.36.


                                                   11
member states, and focus should be on prevention of crises. Latvia regarded creation of
a special legislative council as unnecessary48.
     Instead of taking a definitive stance Latvia asked for clarification on several issues
such as functions of the European Council President, rotating presidency of the Council
of Ministers, status and mandate of EU Foreign Affairs Minister, arrangements of the
voting system49. This approach can be evaluated as cautious because some of the issues
that are mentioned in Latvian position paper did not elevate to the top of the IGC’s
agenda. In the end Latvia was satisfied with the final deal reached in June 2004 because
reduction of number of commissioners was delayed until 2014, the minimum number of
MEPs from one country was raised to six and the system of double majority was
adopted, although at the beginning Latvia was in favor of parity formula.

Estonia
     During the IGC negotiations Estonian government assumed a pragmatic approach,
emphasizing the value of consensus, because it realized that the outcome is likely to be
a compromise between various conflicting interests. The most important gains for
Estonia were considered to be the raise in the minimum number of MEPs per country to
six and preservation of unanimity in the area of taxation.
     The most sensitive issue in Estonian case was composition of the Commission
where in the beginning Estonia insisted on the rights of each member state to delegate
one commissioner, however, the Prime Minister Juhan Parts declared that Estonia
would be willing to abandon the principle if that was the price that had to be paid in
order for the Constitutional Treaty to be accepted by all member states50. When the final
deal was concluded in June 2004 Estonian government was satisfied with the result
because both the composition of Commission and other provisions regarding relations
between the Commission and the member states were acceptable. Regarding the
presidency of the Council Estonia argued that rotation and equality of member states
has to be preserved as the central element in organizing the Council51.
      The issue of weighted votes was never discussed much in Estonia, therefore the
new model was taken for granted. On the question of extending QMV Estonia’s
position was that the QMV is a value in itself and that without it the EU would be
paralyzed, however, Estonia opposed to the introduction of qualified majority voting
into areas of strong national interest such as taxation, social policy, defense and CFSP,
therefore Estonia was very pleased when the article on direct taxation was dropped from
the draft treaty52. Estonia was completely satisfied with the fact that the Constitutional
Treaty raised the number of minimum representation in the European Parliament from
five to six because initially it feared that the minimum level of representation might be
lowered to four seats.

Country summary

48
   Latvijas sarunu pozīcija starpvaldību konferencei.
http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/PazinojumiPresei/2003/sep/2163/
49
   Latvija Starpvaldību konferencē gaida jaunus kompromisa priekšlikumus.
http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/PazinojumiPresei/2003/okt/2202/
50
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.21.
51
   Franck, C. and Pyszna-Nigge, D. New Members, IGC and the Constitutional Treaty. Positions of
acceding countries from Central Europe in the debate on the EU future. Second annual report for the
project „CEEC – DEBATE”. October, 2004. p. 14.
52
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.22.


                                                  12
       It can be concluded that most of the CEE-8 countries shared a broad range of
  similar interests. Regarding the main concerns, there is, in fact, only one country –
  Poland – whose main interest was to preserve Nice system of weighted votes. The only
  other country whose main interest was similar to Polish was Czech Republic, but the
  Czech primary interest was composition of the Commission, and voting arrangements
  came to the forefront only when Commission composition was informally agreed upon.
  Other CEE countries’ main interest was to keep their own commissioner. Interests of
  the CEE-8 countries are summarized in the table nr. 1 (see below).
       Although the list of additional concerns that CEE-8 countries had during the IGC
  debates seems to be very varied, in fact, almost all countries with very few exceptions
  shared the same interests of preserving their sovereignty in tax, social, foreign and
  defense policies. They were afraid of being marginalized and therefore stressed the
  principle of openness in crafting enhanced cooperation initiatives. Smaller states were
  also in favor of finding the right version of double majority that would create a viable
  compromise between smaller and bigger states. They also feared that rotating
  Presidency would be abolished and that President of the Council would provide
  leadership so assertive that interests of smaller states would be neglected. However, the
  CEE-8 countries were different in their perceptions of the IGC debate itself and in their
  willingness to refer to Christian values as the common European heritage.

  Table nr. 1. Main interests of the CEE-8 countries during the IGC.

    Country                 Main concern                 Additional concerns
Poland              Voting arrangements           Assertion of Christian heritage
                                                  Composition of the Commission
Czech Republic      Composition of the Commission Tax policy, CFSP and financial
                    Voting arrangements           perspectives
Slovak Republic     Composition of the Commission Voting arrangements
                                                  Assertion of Christian heritage
                                                  Tax policy, social policy and
                                                  defense policy
                                                  Enhanced cooperation openness
Hungary             Composition of the Commission Voting arrangements
                                                  Enhanced cooperation openness
                                                  Weak President of the European
                                                  Council
Slovenia            Composition of the Commission Weak President of the European
                                                  Council
                                                  Preservation of rotating Presidency
Lithuania           Composition of the Commission Weak President of the European
                                                  Council
                                                  Assertion of Christian heritage
Latvia              Composition of the Commission Minimum number of MEPs
                                                  Weak President of the European
                                                  Council
                                                  Preservation of rotating Presidency


                                             13
Estonia                 Composition of the Commission Tax policy
                                                      Minimum number of MEPs
                                                      Voting arrangements

       The IGC debate also proved that the new member states in general did not impede
  decision-making process of the EU. Poland might be considered as an exception,
  however, it can be noted from the remarks of the Polish representatives at the failed
  Brussels summit that several bigger „old” member states were not keen on hammering
  out a compromise, and Polish initiatives, in fact, were not seriously discussed. It means
  that contrary to the pre-accession fears of the EU-15 states can be regarded as „good
  Europeans”.

  III. Constitutional Treaty ratification in the CEE-8 countries
        Discussions on the EU Constitutional Treaty often neglected the possibility that it
  might not be ratified later on. The compromises that states managed to achieve during
  the Convention and the following IGC might mean nothing if the ratification process
  fails in at least one country. Results of referendums in France and Netherlands 53 ,
  although these were not even mentioned as the most problematic cases54 prior before the
  ratification process started, provided a chilling example in this respect.
        Only two out of eight CEE countries – Poland and Czech Republic – decided to
  hold a referendum to ratify the Constitutional Treaty. It is interesting to note that
  proportion of referendums in CEE-8 countries is very different from EU-15 countries.
  Only a quarter of CEE-8 countries were likely to hold referendums while eight out of
  fifteen EU-15 countries decided to hold referendums on the Constitutional Treaty.
        The whole process of ratification can be divided into two parts. The first part is
  made of those countries that ratified the Constitutional Treaty before referendums in
  France and Netherlands. This part is characterized as a „normal” political process, while
  the second part is „post-France-and-Netherlands” phase, where political process is
  characterized, first, by heated debates and high level of uncertainty that was followed by
  an agreement that ratification of the Constitutional Treaty was not possible any time
  soon. From the CEE-8 countries Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovak Republic
  ratified the Treaty during the first phase before the French referendum, while Latvia,
  Estonia, Poland and Czech Republic belong to the second phase. Out of CEE-8
  countries only Latvia has ratified the Constitutional Treaty after the failed referendums
  in France and Netherlands. At first, it was likely that Estonian parliament would vote on
  the Treaty in autumn 2005, but this did not happen as the Treaty was widely regarded as
  “dead”. Situation with Poland and Czech Republic was far more unclear, as it seemed


  53
     On 29 May 2005 54.68% of French voted against the Constitutional Treaty while 45,32% voted in
  favor. The turnout was 69,34%. On 1 June 2005 a majority of 61,5% of the Dutch voters rejected the
  Constitutional Treaty in a consultative referendum, while 38,5% voted in favor. The turnout was 63,3%.
  Ratification of the Constitutional Treaty in the EU-25. Outlook and results of the ratification procedures.
  http://www.cosac.org/en/info/ratification/ratification/
  54
     There were various speculations as to which countries were likely to be the most „difficult cases”, but
  France and Netherlands were not among those countries that were least likely to ratify the Constitutional
  Treaty. For example, the study by Kurpas et al points to Poland, Czech Republic and United Kingdom as
  the countries where the Constitutional Treaty is least likely to become ratified. Kurpas, S., Incerti, M. and
  Schönlau, J. What Prospects for the European Constitutional Treaty. Monitoring the Ratification Debates.
  EPIN Working paper No. 12. January 2005.


                                                       14
that these two countries postponed their decision until 2006, but most likely these
countries would not go ahead with ratification.
     The following country analysis deals with arguments and specifics of each CEE-8
country aiming to explain ratification process outcomes and speculating about prospects
of ratification in those countries that have not yet completed the process of ratification.
This overview starts in the exact ratification order and continues with Estonian, Czech
and Polish cases.

Lithuania
      The Constitutional Treaty was ratified on 11 November 2004 less than 2 weeks
after signing the Treaty in Rome. Lithuania was the first country that ratified the
Constitutional Treaty, when its parliament – the Seimas – overwhelmingly ratified the
treaty by 84 votes to 4 (out of 141), with 3 abstentions 55 . Constitutional Treaty’s
ratification according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Antanas Valionis was „quick,
smooth and rather simple”, and the explanation for the fact that Lithuania was the first
country to ratify the Treaty was that „we wanted more Europe”56.
      Although Lithuanian case might seem to be the model for other countries, in fact,
many questions have arisen after the ratification. As there was very little discussion on
the Constitutional Treaty during the Convention and the IGC, the question of whether
Lithuania should organize a referendum appeared on the agenda only after the vote in
the parliament. It was frequently argued that Lithuania said „yes” to the European
Constitution when referendum on accession to the EU was organized. Besides,
Lithuania had several elections (national and European Parliament) in 2004 therefore
people might show very little interest in another popular vote. It has also been argued
that members of Lithuanian parliament were not fully aware what they were voting for,
as there was little understanding of how significant this vote was57.

Hungary
      Hungarian Parliament ratified the new EU Constitutional Treaty on 20 December
2004 by 304 votes to 9, with 8 abstentions58. Prior to ratification only one out of four
political parties in the Hungarian parliament was in favor of organizing a referendum on
the Constitutional Treaty issue, therefore it was almost sure that there would be no
popular vote on the Treaty. Moreover, political parties shared the consensus that the
Treaty should be ratified as soon as possible – preferably before the end of 200459.
Ratification in Hungary was also marked with very little discussion about the
Constitutional Treaty60.


55
   Lithuania first to ratify EU Constitution. 11.11.2004. www.euobserver.com
56
   Speech of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Antanas Valionis in Conference „European
Constitution: positions of EU-25”Institute of European Affairs. Dublin, February 4 2005.
http://www.iiea.com/images/managed/events_attachments/Speeches.pdf
57
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.39.
58
   Hungarian Parliament ratifies Constitution. 21.12.2004. www.euobserver.com Although it is clear that
Hungarian parliament ratified the Constitutional Treaty by a landslide majority, various sources
mentioned different voting proportions. For example, www.unizar.es mentions that voting proportions in
Hungary were 322 yes, 12 no and 8 abstained. www.cosac.org argues that the voting proportions in
Hungarian parliament have been somewhat different – 323 yes, 12 no and 8 abstained.
59
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.32.
60
   Kurpas, S., Incerti, M. and Schönlau, J. What Prospects for the European Constitutional Treaty.
Monitoring the Ratification Debates. EPIN Working paper No. 12. January 2005.


                                                  15
     The Eurobarometer poll in November 2004 found that 60% of Hungarians were in
favor of the Treaty and only 9% were against it, while 31% had no opinion61, therefore
it might be concluded that ratification of the Treaty was not against the will of
population. The latest Eurobarometer results (spring 2005) show that Hungarians are the
most supportive nation in the EU-25 regarding the Constitutional Treaty with 78%
respondents saying that they are for European Constitution62. In fact, Hungary is the
only EU member state that has experienced significant increase in public support for the
Constitutional Treaty since Autumn 2004.

Slovenia
      The Slovenian parliament ratified the EU Constitutional Treaty on 1 February 2005
by 79 votes to 4 (out of 90), with 7 abstentions63. The political elite in Slovenia was
united behind the opinion that people have already expressed their views about the EU
at the March 2003 referendum on the accession of Slovenia to the EU. As there were no
public appeals about holding a referendum, then it came as no surprise that parliament
of Slovenia ratified the Treaty with a landslide majority.
      Situation was very similar to Lithuania and Hungary in a way that there was little
public awareness and discussions about the Constitutional Treaty. A University of
Ljubljana poll from January 2005 showed that even though a majority of Slovene voters
supported ratification, a whopping 36% had no opinion. The same poll also showed that
43% of voters knew very little about the Constitution, while 30% of voters knew
nothing about it64. In reaction to public’s low level of awareness Slovenia’s government
decided to organize the information campaign with a goal to provide more information
to Slovenes about the Treaty65.

Slovak Republic
      The parliament – National Council – of the Slovak Republic ratified the
Constitutional Treaty on 11 May 2005 when 116 members of parliament supported the
Treaty, 27 voted against it and 4 abstained. Although the Treaty was ratified by a
parliamentary vote, there were discussions in Slovakia regarding the possibility of a
referendum because national referendum would be mandatory if Slovakia decided to
enter a union of states66. Several civil groupings and one governing party viewed the EU
as a union of states and hence demanded to hold a referendum67, but in the end political
parties in government decided not to have a referendum.
      Almost two month after ratification of the Treaty a group of Slovak activists filed
an appeal to the Slovakia’s constitutional court, and the court asked the country’s
president Ivan Gasparovic not to sign off on the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty,
until judges decide if there should have been a referendum. The 13 activists’ argument

61
   EU Constitution: Where member states stand. BBC News. 07.07.2004. www.bbc.co.uk
62
   Eurobarometer 63. First results. p.23.
63
   Slovenia's parliament says a loud ‘yes’ to EU Constitution. 02.02.2005. www.euobserver.com
64
   Slovenia ratifies EU constitution. Slovenia Bulletin. 07.02.2005. http://slo-bulletin.blogspot.com/
65
   EU Constitution: MPs Convene to Ratify the Constitution. 01.02.2005. and Govt Sets Out to Raise
Awareness About EU Constitution. 27.01.2005. Republic of Slovenia. Public Relations and Media Office.
www.uvi.si
66
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.51.
67
   Speech by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Slovak Republic for European Affairs,
Human Rights and Minorities, Pál Csáky in Conference „European Constitution: positions of EU-25”
Institute of European Affairs. Dublin, February 4 2005.


                                                 16
is that ratification of the Treaty would be equivalent to Slovakia joining a transnational
state, a decision that would need to be backed up by a referendum under the Slovak
constitution 68 . This move suggests that there is some recognition for the group’s
reasoning among judges at the constitutional court and that the court might eventually
annul the parliament’s ratification. Of course, the appeal might as well be rejected by
the court. However, President’s spokesperson indicated that Ivan Garsparovic still
might sign the Treaty and complete ratification despite court’s clear demand not to do
so, thus supporting those voices in society that are saying that Gasparovic’s move is
similar to the policy style of ex-prime minister Vladimir Meciar who almost brought the
country to international isolation69.
      Nevertheless, Slovakia has time at least until autumn 2006 to settle domestic
disagreements regarding the Constitutional Treaty and either turn down the activists
appeal or organize a referendum. Even in case the referendum is organized, it is likely
that Slovaks would vote for the Constitution because Eurobarometer (spring 2005) poll
shows that 60% of Slovaks support the Treaty. However, support has declined by 11%
since autumn 200470.

Latvia
      On 2 June 2005 the Latvian parliament – Saeima – approved the Constitutional
Treaty. 71 members voted in favor, 5 voted against and 6 abstained. The vote took place
only a day after the Dutch referendum. Latvian vote was received as a slight consolation
after the hard blows of French and Dutch referendums71. Latvia was the first country to
ratify the Constitutional Treaty after the French and Dutch referendums therefore main
issue during discussions in Parliament was if Latvia should wait at least until mid-June
European Council meeting where one of the main issues debated was the future of the
Constitutional Treaty.
      Latvia’s decision-makers and public have been almost unanimous with regard to
integration into the EU and NATO after regaining independence in 1991 therefore,
although Latvia has been sometimes mentioned as one of the most euroskeptic
candidate countries, it was no surprise that Latvian parliament ratified the Constitutional
Treaty. The possibility of holding a referendum on the Treaty was never seriously
discussed in Latvia, but Eurobarometer polls show that Latvia, although few per cent
below the EU average, is still quite supportive for the Constitutional Treaty – 56% are
for it72. However, discussions were heated as some of the MPs asked to wait for the
decision of European Council on how to proceed. It was also brought to light that the
Latvian version of the Treaty was riddled with errors – 160 substantial errors and 350
minor editorial mistakes as of January 2005. When the document was resubmitted,
many of the errors had been corrected, but some 140 still remained73.



Estonia



68
   Slovakia freezes EU constitution ratification. 15.07.2005. www.euobserver.com
69
   Renewed uncertainty about EU constitution in Slovakia. 19.07.2005. www.euobserver.com
70
   Eurobarometer 63. First results. p.23-24.
71
   Latvia ratifies EU constitution, ignoring French, Dutch votes. 02.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
72
   Eurobarometer 63. First results. p.23.
73
   Eglītis, A. Latvian MPs ratify EU constitution. The Baltic Times. 08.06.2005.


                                                  17
      Estonia, as well as Poland and Czech Republic are among those countries that have
not ratified the Constitutional Treaty yet. However, Estonia was likely to have less
problems than both of the other CEE countries because Estonian government drew a
line in the beginning of May under discussions about whether the Treaty should be
ratified in parliament or put to a nationwide referendum by sending the Constitutional
Treaty to parliament for ratification. The decision was prepared already in autumn 2004
when Estonian government took the decision that parliamentary ratification was
sufficient and that there was no need to organize a referendum 74 . When asked for
motivation of this decision, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said that, according to
Estonian law, foreign treaties are subject to parliamentary ratification75.
      At first Estonian officials expressed their expectations that the Constitutional
Treaty would be ratified in Estonia by the end of summer, and Estonian government
reconfirmed after the European Council summit in June 2005 that parliament will carry
on the process of ratification regardless of the fact that some member states of the EU
have decided to take time out over the Constitutional Treaty. Estonian officials also
stressed that there was no need to renegotiate the Treaty or start drafting a new treaty76.
Although there would have been no referendum in Estonia, it is worth to note that
public support for the Treaty in Estonia has dropped from 53% in spring 2005 to 27%
after French and Dutch referendums77.
      Although the parliamentary vote in Estonia was planned in early autumn 2005, it
was unlikely that the vote would take place before the summit under British Presidency
on the issue of the future of Europe would take place at the end of October78. However,
the issue of the Constitutional Treaty has been supplemented with debate on the future
of Europe, as United Kingdom is more concerned about the EU meeting the challenge
of globalization than ratifying the Constitutional Treaty. Nevertheless, other countries
may have different views. Ireland has recently published a white paper on the
Constitutional Treaty and is still committed to its early entry into force79. It hopes that
the issue of Constitutional Treaty will be discussed during the Austrian presidency in
January 2006. These developments may have a major impact on Estonian behavior, but
once EU member-states decide to continue with the ratification process it is very
unlikely that Estonia would have any difficulties in ratifying the Treaty.

Czech Republic
      Both Czech Republic and Poland were regarded as the most difficult cases among
the CEE-8 countries because, first, both of them had planned to hold popular
referendums and, second, both are quite skeptic towards the Constitutional Treaty.
Although by and large (and despite the fact that the Treaty has been pronounced “dead”)
it is not clear whether EU member-states will decide to go on with ratification process,
the outcome in the case if the ratification process is resumed is less clear than in the
case of Estonia. This chapter and the next one discusses the possibilities of ratification
in Czech Republic and Poland as if EU member-states have decided to go on with the
ratification process.


74
   Estonia: No referendum on EU Constitution. 03.09.2004. www.euobserver.com
75
   Estonia sends EU constitution for ratification. 05.05.2005. www.eubusiness.com
76
   Estonia will go ahead with ratification of EU charter – PM. Estonian Review: 13-19 June 2005.
77
   Support for EU constitution drops sharply in Estonia: poll. 14.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
78
   EU October summit cut to one day to sharpen debate on EU future. 10.10.2005. www.eubusiness.com
79
   Ireland publishes discussion paper on EU constitution. 13.10.2005. www.eubusiness.com


                                                18
     The former Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross together with Foreign Minister
Cyril Svoboda were second in line to sign the Constitutional Treaty at a special
ceremony in Rome80. One year later it is not sure whether Czech Republic will ratify the
Treaty at all, and this is no wonder because Czechs are the fourth least supporting
nation for the EU Constitutional Treaty81. After the Dutch and French referendums the
Czech government has recommended to postpone the ratification of the Treaty. The
Prime Minister, Paroubek, has indicated that the Czech Republic could ratify the
constitutional treaty during 2006 or 2007, but no particular timetable has yet been set,
although the current Prime Minister Paroubek has indicated that the referendum might
be held together with parliamentary elections in June 200682.
     Czech Republic has been regarded as a state where public support for the Treaty
would be difficult to achieve. As a country with an outspoken euroskeptic as a President
and without significant public support for the Treaty Czech Republic already prior to
events in France and Netherlands was put in the group of high risk countries83.
     Domestic political cleavage between opposition Civic Democratic Party that was
previously chaired by the current President Vaclav Klaus and the Prime Minister Jiri
Paroubek who represents the opinion of the government worsened in June 2005.
President Klaus has said that after French and Dutch rejections of the Treaty there was
no point in continuing the ratification process84, while the Prime Minister Paroubek,
although he admitted that referendum plans have to be postponed 85, has argued that
leaders of other EU member states should send a signal to voters in the Czech Republic
to vote in favor of the Treaty86.
     There are also several legal aspects of the Constitutional Treaty‘s ratification in
Czech Republic. The bill for organizing a referendum on the constitutional treaty has
been passed by the Chamber of Deputies, but there is no sufficient support for the bill in
the Senate. This means that the country still has not passed a special law needed to
organize a referendum. Besides President Klaus who himself considers holding the
referendum after French and Dutch rejections as pointless87 has asked the Constitutional
Court whether the constitution is in harmony with that of the Czech Republic88. In face
of a strong opposition it seems that only active campaigning before the eventual
referendum is likely to secure favorable results for the government.

Poland
      Situation in Poland was very much similar to the Czech situation after the French
and Dutch referendums with the only two differences being that opposition to the Treaty
in Poland was not as pronounced as it was in Czech Republic and that Poles have
traditionally been less skeptical than Czechs. Poland has also been mentioned as a high-
risk case for ratifying the Treaty because it was decided to organize a referendum on the

80
   Gross signs EU Constitutional Treaty. Radio Prague. 29.10.2004. www.radio.cz
81
   Eurobarometer 63. First results. p.23.
82
   Czechs may stage EU referendum in year or more, PM says. 18.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
83
   Kononczuk, P. Czech hesitancy jeopardizes EU constitution. The Prague Post. 24.02.2005.
84
   Czech President insists that all EU member states must ratify constitution. 05.06.2005.
www.eubusiness.com
85
   Czech referendum on EU constitution „impossible” for now: PM Paroubek. 06.06.2005.
www.eubusiness.com
86
   Czech PM calls for signal from EU leaders to vote yes on constitution. 10.06.2005.
www.eubusiness.com
87
   Czech President says EU constitution referendum is pointless. 19.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
88
   Kononczuk, P. Czech hesitancy jeopardizes EU constitution. The Prague Post. 24.02.2005.


                                                 19
Constitutional Treaty, although both options of referendum and parliamentary
ratification were discussed at the outset89.
      Poland is likely to have a referendum on the Treaty, as the legal preparations for it
have been almost completed, but due to French and Dutch “no” votes its date has been
postponed90 with no clear timetable in sight. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski
has said that plans to hold a vote later in 2005 were unrealistic and that referendum
cannot be organized sooner than in 200691. The main reason for that is the fact that
Poland experienced a decline in public support for the Constitutional Treaty after
French and Dutch referendums. Polish support for the Treaty in spring 2005 was over
60%92, but it dropped to approximately 40% in the first part of June93. It was also likely
that opposition to the Treaty will organize a negative campaign that would probably
focus on issues of weighted voting in the Council and the fact that Christianity is not
mentioned in the Preamble of the Treaty, thus lessening the probability of popular vote
in favor of the Treaty. Euroskeptics are also likely to put on the referendum’s agenda
such issues as primacy of the EU law (for the first time explicitly mentioned in the
Treaty), QMV extension and alleged centralization in the hands of Brussels. In result
the whole campaign might turn into a second accession referendum campaign where all
kinds of issues including agricultural policy, rising prices, etc. would be discussed. This
scenario might happen also in Czech Republic.

Conclusions
     This paper aimed at answering the research question about the positions of the
CEE-8 countries during the IGC that followed the Convention and what issues were/are
at stake during the ratification process in these countries. Regarding the issue of
countries’ positions during the IGC it can be concluded that positions were very similar
with exceptions of Poland and, partly, Czech Republic – these countries defended the
Nice system of weighted voting in the Council, while other CEE-8 countries put
composition of Commission as their main priority issue. For the most part CRR-8
countries caused little trouble during the IGC and proved that efficient decision-making
in the EU-25 is possible. Poland might be regarded as an exception, but Poles were
willing to compromise, and it was clear that new member states did not want to be seen
as obstructing the decision-making process.
     When analyzing the ratification process of the Constitutional Treaty, two issues
have to be taken into account. First, ratification process in countries with parliamentary
vote is very different from the same process in countries where referendums are held.
Countries where parliament votes on the Treaty are characterized by little public
awareness about the Constitutional Treaty and by weak opposition. On the contrary,
referendums are likely to be held in countries with strong opposition and high public
awareness. These conditions seem to be stronger than simplistic division in
euroskepticist and eurooptimist countries because Estonia and Latvia were considered to
be euroskeptic countries, but experienced little difficulties in ratifying the Treaty (it is
highly unlikely that ratification process in Estonia will face serious obstacles), and a

89
   EU-25 Watch. No. 1. December 2004. p.47.
90
   Polish government was expecting to organize a referendum concurrently with the first round of
presidential election on 9 October 2005. Poland should vote on EU text, but via parliament, says premier.
20.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
91
   Poland indefinitely delays EU constitution vote. 21.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com
92
   Eurobarometer 63. First results. p.23.
93
   Poland should vote on EU text, but via parliament, says premier. 20.06.2005. www.eubusiness.com


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eurooptimist country – Poland – is likely to vote against the Constitutional Treaty
because of strong opposition and high public awareness that stems from feeling of
dissatisfaction with the results of the IGC.
     Although the Constitutional Treaty has been pronounced “dead”, there are few
signs that point in the direction that debate on the Treaty may resume if not under the
British presidency, then under Austrian presidency.

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