Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Has Belgium Actually Ratified The Lisbon Treaty?

The Internet is a wonderful tool. I have just discovered a new blog called Free Europe. The very first article is - Belgian EU-treaty Ratifications still pending?

It seems that Notre mot à dire/Onze Zeg who are a cross-spectrum alliance of Dutch, French and German speaking democrats from Belgium are disputing whether this has actually happened. Certainly, as far as the general populous of Belgium, The EU and even Wikipedia are concerned, Belgian ratification is a done deal. The group are insistent that ratification has not taken place, and refer to this. (Unfortunately for me, the linked site is not in English, so I am going to struggle to tell you too much. If you are able to verify or discredit this post then feel free to do so in the comments.)

Belgian ratification is dependant upon an agreement between the Federal Parliament and all Regional Parliaments. This has apparently not been completed, and the intra-government agreement is incomplete, thus Royal Assent can not be (and has not yet been) officially granted.

Belgium does not have a functioning government at the moment. One was put together with the intention of ratifying Lisbon, but it quickly fell apart once that was [thought to be] done. Perhaps they were too hasty to disband?

On 9th December 2008 the validity of the Flemish ratification was challenged in the Federal Court, and on the 11th December 2008 the question whether the ratification process without referendum is fair to the people of Belgium.

I have done a few Internet searches, and I can not find anything on an English language site that challenges the assertion that Belgium has finished ratification and deposited the documents in Rome. Certainly it would be hugely embarrassing if the home of the EU could not complete ratification, and may fuel even more splits in the Belgian establishment.

So is this a political scandal, or a naive blogger putting his hopes before the facts? If the court challenge is successful ratification may be pending a referendum, it would be interesting to know if any time constraints are thus applied; especially if that makes the prospect of a promised referendum from David Cameron's Conservatives a real prospect after a UK General Election.

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