Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 13:31 UK

Italy ratifies EU Lisbon Treaty

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi addressing deputies in parliament (file pic)
Right-wing PM Silvio Berlusconi has a safe majority in parliament

Italy's parliament has ratified the EU Lisbon Treaty, which was rejected by Irish voters in June.

Italy has become the 23rd out of 27 EU member states to approve the reform treaty, which is aimed at improving decision-making in the enlarged EU.

The treaty has to be ratified by all 27 in order to take effect - and the Irish No vote has left its future uncertain.

Italy's lower house approved the treaty unanimously on Thursday. The Senate (upper house) approved it on 23 July.

The treaty was originally meant to be in place in January 2009 - well ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2009.

The Irish Republic was the only EU member state to hold a referendum on the treaty. The other countries that have not yet ratified it are the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden.

Critics see the treaty as further evidence of a federalist, pro-integration agenda at work in the EU.

The Irish government says it is analysing the reasons for the Irish No vote and will present its ideas at an EU summit in October.

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