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European Leaders Postpone Decision on Lisbon Treaty


The European Union has postponed until October any decision on the future of the Lisbon Treaty.

EU leaders acknowledged Friday at the close of their summit in Brussels that the Czech Republic is examining constitutional problems with ratifying the treaty, which aims to reform the bloc's operations.

Meanwhile, a British High Court has called on the country's government to delay formal ratification, despite parliament's approval of the treaty. The court is expected next week to rule on a legal bid to force a referendum.

EU leaders also still have questions regarding Ireland. Last week, Irish voters rejected the treaty in a referendum.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Friday his government needs time to analyze their options in moving forward.

Some diplomats say there is a possibility the Irish could hold a new vote, depending on changes to the treaty proposal. All 27 EU members must ratify the pact for it to take effect. So far, 19 governments have approved the treaty.

Separately at the two-day summit, the EU told Macedonia it must resolve the dispute with Greece over its name before membership talks can begin.

France assumes the rotating EU presidency next month, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the European Union must suspend enlargement until there is agreement on the Lisbon treaty.

Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia - which currently holds the presidency - said membership talks should continue despite deadlock regarding the treaty. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey are working to become the next EU members.

The Lisbon Treaty would replace the Treaty of Nice that was negotiated when there were only 15 members. The new treaty would reform EU institutions and streamline the decision-making process.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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