Thursday, June 24, 2004

A far-off country that could be important

Slovakia's appetite for the European Union has been diminishing. It had a low turn-out of just over 50 per cent for the referendum and in the recent elections it came bottom of the poll with just 20 per cent voting. Its politicians have been mulling over the new Constitution.

To be precise they would have been mulling it over if there had been a text available. This will not happen till September, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

In the meantime, there has been some disagreement as to how the new treaty that brings in the Constitution should be ratified. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda first announced that a simple majority of deputies will be enough to pass the Constitution through parliament.

The Justice Minister, Daniel Lipsic, thinks otherwise. Having consulted the Ministry's constitutional lawyers, he has come to the conclusion that the new Constitution will mean important changes to the Slovak constitutional order and will, thus, require a two thirds majority in parliament.

The constitutional lawyers, incidentally, have come up with a somewhat unusual interpretation of the term subsidiarity. According to them:

The EU constitution implies, under the so-called subsidiary principle, that the EU member countries give up some of their customary decision-making powers in areas where the EU mechanisms are prominent.
This is probably more accurate than the usual analysis but is unlikely to be viewed with favour by the Commission spokespersons.

According to the Slovak Spectator, an English language weekly, the ruling Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) has decided to push for a referendum. As far as we can tell, this is the first firm indication of a possible referendum in the new member states.

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