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15. 10. 2009 17:05

Czech Government opinion on the petition lodged by a group of Senators on 29 September for a review of the Lisbon Treaty by the Constitutional Court

Prague, 15 October 2009 – At an extraordinary meeting held today, the Government approved its response to a petition by a group of 17 Senators lodged with the Constitutional Court requesting a review of the Lisbon Treaty’s compliance with the constitutional architecture of the Czech Republic.

In this respect, the Government, as a party to the proceedings, was reacting to the Constitutional Court’s invitation to make comments.

The Czech Government also instructed the Minister for European Affairs, Štefan Füle, to act on its behalf in proceedings before the Constitutional Court, which has set a hearing for 27 October 2009The Government notes that the Constitutional Court has already assessed whether the Lisbon Treaty (or more specifically some of its provisions) complies with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic, arriving at the conclusion that it does not.

The petition lodged with the Constitutional Court on 29 September 2009 is divided into four parts. In its response, the Government takes the view that the Lisbon Treaty, both as a whole and in its individual provisions, is compatible with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic. The Government believes that the third part of the Senators’ petition is unfounded, and that the final part is ineligible for consideration by the Constitutional Court in these proceedings.

In the first part of the petition, the group of Senators challenges the compliance of both the Lisbon Treaty and other treaties amended by the Lisbon Treaty with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic. Part I, in the Government’s view, lacks constitutionally relevant arguments and creates the impression that the petitioners are merely trying to convince the Constitutional Court of their political opinions. Regarding the review of treaties amended by the Lisbon Treaty, the Government concluded that a constitutional review of older founding treaties currently in force is formally unacceptable, and that as a whole only the provisions newly enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty are reviewable. The Government believes that, with regard to the arguments put forward in the first part of the petition, the Lisbon Treaty is in conformity with the Czech constitutional order and does not conflict with the fundamental status of the Czech Republic as a sovereign State enjoying democratic rule of law.

The second part relates to the compliance of specific provisions of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, with the constitutional order. In particular, the petitioners point out the excessive generality and lack of clarity of these provisions. The Government does not share this view. The language used in the text of the Lisbon Treaty falls into the category of “indeterminate legal concepts” and is commonly used in other international treaties. Nor does the Government believe that there is any inconsistency between the contested provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and the constitutional order of the Czech Republic in the second part of the petition.

The third part of the petition disputes specific provisions on asylum and immigration policy. In this part, the group of senators also reserves the right to supplement the petition with other possible additional provisions. The Government takes the view that the Constitutional Court should consider whether the petitioners, in this sense, are restricted by the principle of concentration, and stresses that, from the perspective of the parties’ rights, it would be detrimental for the proceedings to be constantly protracted by the submission of more and more additions. As to the petition itself, the Government notes that the petitioners omit a systematic and comprehensive interpretation of the contested provisions, including those passages of the treaties which refute their arguments. In light of the above, the Government is inclined towards the view that the petitioners’ claims in this part are clearly unfounded.

In the fourth and final part of the petition, the Senators call on the Constitutional Court to find that the “Irish Guarantees” approved by Heads of State and Government at the June European Council constitute an international treaty according to Article 10a of the Constitution of the Czech Republic and as such require the consent of both Chambers of Parliament of the Czech Republic. The Government observes that the Constitutional Court does not have the relevant jurisdiction to adjudicate on such an issue. It is impossible for the Constitutional Court to declare with any authority the truth or falsity of the petitioners’ claims. In these proceedings, the court may only review the compliance of international treaties with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic. The Government has already noted in its previous observations that the “Irish Guarantees” are an agreement of a governmental nature carrying only interpretive significance, and do not change anything about the Lisbon Treaty, as they clearly stipulate.

As the Government has already stated in previous responses, it considers the Lisbon Treaty as a whole to be compatible with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic and it was in this belief that it negotiated the Treaty.

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