Prague - Czech non-governmental think-tank eStat.cz has an ambition to repeat the success of Irish group Libertas, who significantly contributed to the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in an Irish referendum.
Lawyers of eStat have studied the draft European Union treaty and compiled a list of institutional changes the document would bring to the member states. The group then distributed the list among Czech MPs and senators, who are to ratify or reject the treaty in a vote scheduled for 10 November.
"The treaty has both positive and negative aspects, but the negatives prevail," says Dalibor Veřmiřovský from eState. He argues that the Lisbon Treaty excessively broadens the powers of the European Commission and hence limits the sovereignty of the member states.
'Return of European imperialism'
Brussels, which has so far mainly overseen the common market, would, according to Veřmiřovský, get a right to shape member states' social, energy, or foreign policies. For example, Czechs could no longer negotiate bilateral visa-free relations with a non-EU country, as they recently did with the US, and the commission could influence pensions or taxation.
Veřmiřovský continues to say that the treaty would introduce EU police forces authorized to intervene in any member state, and the EU could prosecute citizens without consulting national authorities.
"This is de facto a return to imperialism of large European countries. It is only using different means this time," says Veřmiřovský, adding that the institutional reform will give excessive powers to the largest EU members - mainly Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
The treaty stipulates that 220 areas of EU-wide policy and legislation could be decided by a qualified majority, i.e. by at least 15 of the 27 countries, provided they represent at least 65 percent of the total EU population. Today, unanimous agreement of all members in the EU Council is required in many of these areas.
In this way, any three of the four states mentioned above will have enough power to veto proposals backed by the rest of the EU. At the same time, the Big Four will only need the support of 11 member states, no matter how small, to impose their proposals.
Towards a superstate?
In addition to that, the paragraph 7 of the article 48 of the treaty stipulates that the council can increase the number of policy and legislation areas that will be under Brussels's jurisdiction and will only require a qualified majority. This further broadening of Brussels's powers will be possible without the agreement of national parliaments or referendums required today.
It was this clause that raised concerns in Ireland that the EU could in the future abolish the country's neutral status or lift its ban on abortions.
"The paragraph 7 is a dragon's egg that will enable the EU to transform from an supranational institution to a superstate," Veřmiřovský concludes.
In a survey conducted in July by the STEM agency, 53 percent of Czechs said they did not want the parliament to ratify the treaty.