Even after the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the enlargement of the European Union has to continue, agreed the four prime ministers of the Visegrád Group (V4) at their official summit on June 16.
An announcement to this effect was made Monday by the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia at their meeting in Prague. The Irish referendum result must not be a reason for V4 to slacken its efforts to bring Croatia into the European bloc or its support for Serbia and Ukraine’s EU bid, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. “It (EU enlargement) will be our priority,” Tusk told reporters. Poland has taken over the V4 presidency from the Czech Republic for next year. Hungarian premier Ferenc Gyurcsány said that the outcome of the referendum in Ireland is grave, and it is likely to result in the EU becoming bogged down with institutional questions instead of dealing with acute problems, such as food prices, energy issues and the financial market.
Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary formed the group in 1991 in Visegrád, Hungary, with the aim of strengthening cooperation among member countries. After Czechoslovakia split into two separate states in 1993, the group was renamed V4. “We all are afraid that problems of the institutional character might suppress topics which all of us believe should dominate the European agenda. We are afraid of pressure restricting EU enlargement. Croatia should not fall victim to this process,” Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said. “It is clear that the Lisbon Treaty will not take effect as planned from Jan. 1, 2009,” when the Czech Republic will take over the EU presidency, Topolanek said. “Complications of ratification cannot impact EU enlargement, Croatia definitely belongs to the EU,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico emphasized. The EU is no sect, he said, adding that modern institutes and their enlargement contribute to the stability of Europe.
The EU faces a real problem as there is no quick fix for the impasse over the Lisbon Treaty. So far, 18 member states have ratified the treaty, designed to make key EU institutional reform possible and streamline decision making. The charter, signed in December 2007 by leaders of all EU member states, needs ratification by all 27 member states to come into force. Ireland is the only country legally obliged to hold a referendum on it. The Irish on Thursday rejected the treaty, with 53.4% voting against it. (Gazdasági Rádió, Xinhua)