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European Leaders Postpone Decision on Lisbon Treaty

By VOA News
20 June 2008

The European Union has postponed until October any decision on the future of the Lisbon Treaty.

EU leaders acknowledged Friday at the summit in Brussels that the Czech Republic is examining constitutional problems with ratifying the treaty. They expect the ratification process to continue there and in six other remaining member countries.

Leaders also still have questions regarding Ireland. Last week, Irish voters rejected the treaty in a referendum. Some diplomats say there is a possibility the Irish could hold a new vote, depending on changes to the treaty proposal. All 27 EU members must ratify the pact for it to take effect.

Separately, the EU threatened more sanctions on Zimbabwe if next week's elections are not free and fair, and on Sudan, if it does not cooperate with the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes in Darfur.

The EU also told Macedonia it must resolve the dispute with Greece over its name before membership talks can begin.

France assumes the rotating EU presidency next month, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the European Union must suspend enlargement until there is agreement on the EU treaty.

Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia - which currently holds the presidency - said membership talks should continue despite deadlock regarding the treaty. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are working to become the next EU members.

EU leaders also struggled with soaring fuel costs during the two-day summit. Friday, they invited European regulators (the European Commission) to look at tax measures to bring down skyrocketing oil prices. France is proposing a cap on gasoline (petrol) taxes, while Austria wants to tax speculators and commodities traders.

The Lisbon Treaty would replace the Treaty of Nice that was negotiated when there were only 15 members. The new treaty would reform EU institutions and streamline the decision-making process.

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