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Posted by Richard Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Although, in the wake of the Luxembourg referendum, the "colleagues" were chirping that the majority (no less than 13) of the 25 member states had ratified the EU constitution, as always, they are being a little bit previous.

There was, of course, that minor issue on 15 June when German president Horst Köhler decided not to append his signature to the final ratification document, pending a ruling from the German constitution court as to its validity.

And now, the Slovak constitutional court has put its own blockage on the Slovakian ratification, despite it being overwhelmingly approved by its parliament last May.

This, according to Euractiv, is after a group of 13 citizens turned to the court with a protest that the parliamentary ratifcation violated their right to take part in political life, as guaranteed in the constitution. They also argue that, by approving the EU constitution, Slovakia has agreed to join another state formation, and for such a move the Slovak constitution requires that a referendum be held.

This report is amplified by the Slovak Spectator, which says that the constitutional court has actually issued a preliminary measure banning president Ivan Gašparovič from signing the ratification instrument, after it had accepted a complaint by the M R Štefánik Conservative Institute, which argued that there should be a referendum on the issue.

Court officials have said a final verdict on the complaint would be issued this year and, although legal experts believe it is possible that the court could reject the complaint, according to lawyer Radoslav Procházka, the fact that the court accepted the complaint for evaluation means that "there may be some doubts about the parliamentary proceedings" in approving the EU treaty.

Either way, the planned final approval by Gašparovič will have to await the ruling from the court which means that the number of countries that have actually ratified the EU constitution is going down, and now stands at eleven.