Polish president says signing EU treaty 'pointless'

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The Independent Online

Polish President Lech Kaczynski will not sign the European Union's reform treaty for now because the Irish rejection makes it "pointless", he said in an interview published today.

The Lisbon Treaty is intended to streamline the bloc's institutions after the accession of central and eastern European countries since 2004.

It must be ratified by all 27 member states, but Ireland rejected it in a referendum last month.

Poland's parliament gave the green light to the treaty in April. Kaczynski delayed signing it but had previously said ratification by Poland was a foregone conclusion.

Asked by the daily Dziennik if he would sign the treaty - the last step needed for full ratification in Poland - Kaczynski said: "This is now pointless. But it is difficult to say how this whole thing will end."

His comments were published on the first day of the French presidency of the European Union. President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to go to Dublin on July 11 to try to address Irish voters' concerns and make it possible for the government to call a new vote next year, diplomats say.

Kaczynski, a Eurosceptic often at loggerheads with the strongly pro-EU, centre-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, said it was wrong to suggest the EU could not work without the new treaty.

"The bloc functioned, functions and will go on functioning. It's not perfect but such a complicated structure cannot be perfect," Kaczynski said.

He added that it was difficult to predict the end of the ratification crisis prompted by the Irish "No". The treaty had been due to come into force next year.

Kaczynski compared the block's current situation to 2005 when the French and Dutch voters rejected a more ambitious EU constitution, which was later reworked into the Lisbon Treaty.

An aide of the prime minister expressed concern over Kaczynski's comments.

"This is a very worrying signal," Slawomir Nowak told Polish Radio today.

"This means the president and his advisers fail to understand what is important for Poland. This (failure to ratify Lisbon) would hurt us all."

The Lisbon Treaty also faces difficulties in the Czech Republic, which joined the EU with Poland in 2004. The top Czech court has been asked to rule on whether the treaty is in line with the constitution, delaying ratification until late 2008.

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