Bulgarian parliament ratifies EU reform treaty

EU

Bulgaria has overwhelmingly approved the European Union reform treaty, becoming the sixth country to pass the bill aimed at improving the bloc’s efficiency, the parliament said on Friday.

The Balkan country’s deputies voted 195-15 to endorse the treaty which replaces a draft European constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 referendums. The current EU president, Slovenia, welcomed the move. Deputies from Bulgaria’s opposition nationalist Attack party

and several independent deputies opposed the treaty. “The European project cannot develop if everyone looks in their narrow path ... Only together, with common principles, common instruments, seeking the common interest, we can move forward,” Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told parliament. “I believe the Lisbon treaty really answers the needs of the new stage of development of the EU.”

The treaty, agreed last year to overhaul the bloc’s institutions, has to be approved by all 27 member states to take effect. Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania and France have already ratified it. Ireland will hold a referendum on the treaty. The treaty provides for a long-term president of the European Council of EU leaders, a stronger foreign policy chief, a simpler, more democratic decision-making system and more say for the national and European parliaments. It omits symbols of statehood such as a flag, anthem and motto, and adds “opt-out” clauses for Britain and Poland from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and judicial cooperation. (Reuters)

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