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Czech Court Clears Way for President to Sign New EU Treaty

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The Czech Republic's Constitutional Court has removed the last obstacle to a new European Union charter known as the Lisbon Treaty by dismissing a complaint that had been brought against the document. Shortly after the court decision, the Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed the document. The move paves the way for a stronger, more unified EU.

The court's decision, essentially that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty does not violate the Czech constitution, does not come as a surprise. But it is significant, because it removes the last legal obstacle blocking the treaty, making the Czech Republic the last of the EU's 27 members to endorse the reform document.

In a statement read by his spokeswoman, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso hailed the ruling.

"I hope we can now move forward as quickly as possible on the nomination of the president of the European Council and the vice president of the Commission, the high representative," he said.

Observers expect European leaders will meet later this month to elect the first ever EU president. More broadly, says Antonio Missiroli, head of the Brussels-based European Policy Center, the EU will undergo some major structural changes over the next few weeks.

"In fact by January 1, the whole new setup should be in place - new [EU] Commission, new president of the European Council, new "foreign minister," the new treaty," said Missiroli. "That would be a new start of the European Union. Of course, things are not going to change overnight and suddenly from the first a completely different way of operating by the European Union. But I think that over time, when the novelties will be in place, it will be more likely that the European Union will be capable of acting more effectively, especially on the international stage."

Missiroli, for one, is cautiously optimistic about the future. While foreign leaders will not have a single telephone number to call if they want to reach Europe, he says they will at least be able to reach a single switchboard - in Brussels.