Lithuania, Latvia ratify EU reform treaty

EU

The parliaments of Lithuania and Latvia on Thursday ratified the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, bringing to 13 the number of member states signed off on the document.

In the 141-member Lithuanian parliament, 83 votes were cast for the ratification, five against and 23 abstained. Seventy votes were cast in favor of the ratification in the 100-member Latvian parliament, with three against and one abstention. The votes were welcomed by the presidency of the council of EU member states, which is currently held by Slovenia - another of the 10 states that joined the EU in May 2004. “The Treaty of Lisbon certainly represents a solid and relevant basis for further shaping our common European future. It will enable the European Union to face the challenges of the 21st century, not only internally, but also in its external relations,” the presidency said in a statement welcoming the Baltic move. “Each ratification is an important step forward on the path to the ultimate goal” of a more efficient, transparent and democratic EU, the statement said.

The treaty has now passed the parliamentary hurdle in 13 EU countries: Denmark, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France, Lithuania and Latvia. The 27 EU member states are being asked to ratify the treaty by the end of the year ahead of elections to the European Parliament in 2009. Ireland is to hold a referendum on the treaty in June - the only country to do so.

The no votes in referendums in France and the Netherlands in mid- 2005 ended attempts to ratify a more ambitious European constitution, leading to the drawing up of the Treaty of Lisbon, which is also known as the Reform Treaty. (m&c.com)

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