Riksdag ratifies EU’s Lisbon treaty

Riksdag ratifies EU's Lisbon treaty
The Riksdag voted late Thursday night to ratify the European Union's Lisbon reform treaty, making Sweden the 25th of the 27 EU members to approve the text.

“The parliament has decided to approve the EU’s Lisbon Treaty,” it said in a short statement following the vote that dragged into the late hours Thursday.

“The Lisbon Treaty is, in the parliament’s opinion, better than the current treaty and strengthens the EU in important areas,” it added.

Cecilia Malmström, Sweden’s EU Minister, thought the debate was spirited and worthwhile.

“It was a long debate, but I thought that in general it was a very good and fun debate,” she said to the TT news agency.

The parliament did not specify the number of votes in favour of the text, which replaces the bloc’s doomed constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The TT news agency however reported that it was approved with 243 votes in favour, 39 against and 13 abstaining, while 54 members of parliament were absent.

Much of the Riksdag debate revolved around concerns about the Swedish model for collective wage agreements, which suffered a blow recently when a European court ruled against Swedish unions who had blocked a construction site in Vaxholm to protest lower wages being paid by a Latvian building firm.

“Why can’t Sweden ask for a legally binding exception for our model of collective wage agreements?,” asked Left Party parliamentarian Hans Linde, who pointed to other countries which had received exceptions.

But Moderate Party Riksdag member Göran Lennmarker argued that the wage agreements were not the issue under debate.

“It has nothing to do with the treaty,” he said.

The treaty, which is aimed at streamlining the EU’s workings to take into account its mainly eastwards expansion, requires the approval of all 27 EU member states.

The text was rejected by Ireland in a June referendum, and the Czech Constitutional Court is set to decide on November 25 on the treaty’s compliance with the country’s constitution.