Sweden is one of the very few countries which have not yet ratified the Treaty of Lisbon. It is debatable how many there are with Poland’s obstructing -but basically powerless- President and the decision of the German Constitutional Court still outstanding. But it seems reasonable to conclude that Sweden and the Czech Republic are the only real laggards – Ireland obviously always excepted. Unfortunately those are also the two countries that will assume the EU Presidency in 2009. Difficulties are compounded by the fact that neither country belongs to the Eurozone.
Normally the Swedish Parliament would vote on the Treaty on November 20. The Treaty has already been approved by the Foreign Policy Committee. On paper, there would be a solid majority with the four Government parties and the Social Democratic opposition in favor of the ratification. However, things are not that simple, by far (SW).
First, 41 members of the Green and the Left Party will vote against ratification. In addition a mini-rebellion has broken out within the Government majority. Around 10 members have decided to request that the proposal be re-submitted to the Parliament’s Constitutional Committee which would delay the ratification by at least one year. Only 56 Parliamentarians are needed to enforce such a re-submittal. Accordingly, it would seem that only 7 more defectors would be required in order to stop the ratification.
It would probably be very easy to find such a number, and indeed a much greater one, among the increasingly eurosceptic Social Democrats. It is true that Party discipline has always been strong but there are good reasons to doubt the will of the Party leadership to enforce a common line on this issue. Symptomatic for the tactical euroscepticism of party leader Mona Sahlin is her decision to use the top position of the party’s list for the EP elections as a means to get rid of the un-loved long-time Party Secretary Marita Ulvskog, a pronounced anti-EU politician. Sure, such a manoeuvre corresponds to the Swedish way of resolving unpleasant or disagreeable situations but it also displays a certain indifference if not hostility towards European politics. Nevertheless, a couple of very competent pro-Europeans are still on the Social Democratic list and in electable positions.
Should the ratification procedure fail, the Swedish Government should seriously consider a voluntary withdrawal from next years Presidency.