Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Poland could face EU treaty vote

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Polish conservatives fear the treaty undermines national interests

Polish PM Donald Tusk has said a referendum may be necessary on the Lisbon Treaty because of a dispute with the opposition and President Kaczynski.

The president and his twin brother, Jaroslaw, helped negotiate the accord but are now threatening to torpedo it, saying it could harm Polish interests.

Ireland is the only member state due to hold a public vote on the treaty, which has to be ratified by all 27 countries.

Signed last year, it is aimed at making EU institutions more efficient.

To me, the EU is vital for the entire continent and I hope that Poland definitely is not going to be an obstacle
Valdas Adamkus
Lithuanian President
But opponents are concerned it gives the European Union more power, by creating a president of the European Council and extending the use of majority voting.

In a televised address on Monday night, President Kaczynski said: "Not everything in the EU is good for Poland."

On Tuesday, he submitted to parliament his own ratification bill which he said would better protect Poland's national interests.

Rights charter

The treaty would need a two-thirds majority to go through both houses of parliament, but ex-Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice party has said the existing ratification bill does not guarantee Poland's exemption from the treaty's Charter of Fundamental rights.

It fears the charter could allow homosexual marriage in Poland and pave the way for Germans to sue Poles for property lost after World War II.

The UK has secured a guarantee that the charter cannot be used by a European court to change British law.

President Lech Kaczynski has said his own ratification proposal would enable Warsaw to invoke the so-called "British protocol".

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus appealed to the Polish president not to block the treaty.

"To me, the EU is vital for the entire continent and I hope that Poland definitely is not going to be an obstacle," he said.

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