By CHRIS GRAEME
THE PORTUGUESE parliament has ratified the Treaty of Lisbon, with PS, PSD and CDS-PP parties all voting overwhelmingly in favour.
The ratification in the Assembleia da República went off without any surprises or emotion, with the left wing PCP, BE and PEV parties voting against, as had been expected.
It means that Portugal is now the 10th country in the European Union to ratify the treaty which amends all preceding treaties. It also means that the ratification of the treaty will not now be put to a referendum in Portugal.
Ireland is the only EU country that could put the ratification to a referendum, while the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Czech Republic are likely to delay adhesion to the treaty until January 1, 2009.
The PSD made only one concrete proposal on the treaty: that it should be “obligatorily taught in schools as part of European Issues in the 9th Grade.”
Prime Minister José Sócrates, who opened the debate, said there was “great political and social consensus” on the Treaty of Lisbon. He stated that it had given the European Union the necessary instruments to add more weight and political cohesion in EU member state foreign affairs and security matters.
The Prime Minister added that the Treaty of Lisbon “reinforced European citizenship, and “improved the institutional machinery and decision-making process of the European Union”.
José Sócrates also highlighted advances made in the Charter of Fundamental Rights adding that the Treaty of Lisbon was a “victory for Europe” and its “values” as well as its “openness to the rest of the world.”
The leader of the opposition party PSD benches, Pedro Santana Lopes, agreed that the social democrats too were “united over the treaty’s stated aim to end the political stalemate in the European project.”
The Treaty of Lisbon has fine-tuned European political institutions and taken a step further towards political integration on many levels without actually adopting an EU constitution or trampling over cherished centuries held traditions of self determination in countries like the United Kingdom.
However, certain aspects of the Treaty of Lisbon in key areas of employment policy, such as the controversial flexi-security policy, have been widely criticised and opposed by left-wing parties and unions in Portugal, Holland and France.
This has arguably led to the Portuguese government’s modification of the Employment Code, which could, if passed, come into force in 2009, and which aims to provide a fairer deal for employees, particularly those not on fixed term contracts – one which encourages companies and employers to face up to their social (security) responsibilities.
Please read article on this page, entitled ‘Companies to pay five per cent social security on freelance services’.
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