Tuesday, July 1, 2008

France stymied by ... Poland

As Nicholas Sarkozy takes over the EU Presidency today for the second half of 2008 today, a rather unexpected (but perhaps not too much) slap came from Polish President Lech Kaczynski who said he's not going to sign the Treaty of Lisbon for now in the wake of last month's rejection of the pact by voters in Ireland.

How this plays into the future of the treaty or whether everyone will have to back to square one yet again is unclear. In the case of Poland (which is on track to adopt the Euro in 2012) there is obvious concern as in Ireland about how their strict anti-abortion laws would be affected; as well the current operating system (the Treaty of Nice) gives Poland a fair amount more voting weight than Lisbon would. The whole issue is at home putting Kaczynski at odds with his PM, Donald Tusk, who wants to push ahead and damn the torpedoes.

In the meantime, Sarkozy is promising to use his six months to try to make the EU more transparent and "democratic" although how he really isn't specific about. He wants the EU to move on reforms in immigration, the environment and agriculture as well as cutting the VAT for restaurants and at the pump. He's also making a point of going to Ireland later this month to talk to people in that country directly over the head of the Taioseach (Irish PM).

That's a good start but the other leaders in the area also need to be more responsive, as voters in now five countries on different issues have clearly demanded. As the world heads into a possibly impossible situation economically, the EU needs to get its act together both for its own sake as well as EU citizens.

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