Ratification process should be completed in spring 2008

Latvian Institute of International Affairs

The about-to-be replaced government of Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis reacted quickly to the news of the signing of the Lisbon Treaty and decided on 11 December 2007 to begin the process leading to the treaty’s ratification. On 19 February 2008 the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis voted unanimously to forward to the parliament the draft law on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and recommended that the lawmakers act speedily. Since there is neither a widespread nor a vocal opposition to the treaty in Latvia, the ratification process should be completed in spring 2008. As was already shown by Latvia’s endorsement of the Constitutional Treaty through a favourable vote of the parliament on 2 June 2005, the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty will be equally straightforward and will not depend on a referendum.
 
Public discussion in anticipation of the Lisbon Treaty began in autumn 2007 with informative programs and talks organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Movement of Latvia, and the European Commission’s Representation in Latvia. These institutions have provided also printed materials and information that is available electronically. Nonetheless, domestic political developments and the hardships caused by rampant inflation were of more immediate concern. What is more, the timing of the endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty was also not conducive for attracting public attention because of the approaching Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Some discussions and conferences have been organised subsequently, but they have focused on and attracted persons already interested in or dealing professionally with EU affairs. The most widely publicized conference took place on 15 February 2008 at the University of Latvia with EU Commission President Barroso addressing the audience, which consisted of specially invited guests and students. Consequently, the wider audience in Latvia missed out on the discussions that were taking place. Consequently, more public discussions are being scheduled before the parliament ratifies the Treaty.[1]
 
As for the Committee of the Wise, Latvia is proud that its former president, Professor Vaira Vike-Freiberga, is one of its deputy co-chairpersons. Beyond that, most Latvians have only a very vague idea what that committee will be doing. Of much greater concern among the general public are the promised, very substantial price hikes for gas and electricity.


[1] Latvian News Agency LETA dispatches of 15 and 19 February 2008 and Latvijas Vestnesis, and the Latvian government decree No. 781 of 6 December 2007, which was published in Latvijas Vestnesis on 11 December 2007. Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, available at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/eu/ (last access: 18.03.2008) and European Union Information Agency, available at: http://www.esia.gov.lv/ (last access: 18.03.2008), the European Movement in Latvia, available at: http://www.eiropaskustiba.lv/ (last access: 18.03.2008), and the European Commission’s Representation, available at: www.eiropainfo.lv (last access: 18.03.2008).