German MPs ratify EU Lisbon treaty
The German parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to ratify the European Union's Treaty of Lisbon, a new legal framework for the EU that replaces the rejected European constitution.
Five hundred and fifteen German MPs voted for the treaty after more than two hours of debate - a majority of nearly 90 percent, far more than the two-thirds majority the treaty required for approval. Among the 58 MPs who voted against the treaty were members of Germany's hard-line socialist Left Party.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the EU treaty a "fundamental commitment" to a pan-European economic and social model and said it would increase democratic representation in the EU and enable closer cooperation on climate change and the environment.
"The new treaty is good for Europe," Merkel said in Thursday's parliamentary session.
The treaty will go before the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, on May 23. Passage in that chamber, which represents Germany's 16 federal states, is considered all but certain. Signed in December in Lisbon, the EU treaty has since been ratified by nine of the 27 EU member countries and is planned to take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
The Lisbon treaty amends existing EU treaties and replaces the controversial European constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. It includes most of the provisions in the failed constitution.
European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering, of the CDU, dismissed any skepticism about the treaty in a Thursday interview with radio station RBB-Inforadio.
"This treaty carries with it more democracy, more transparency, and solves more problems or offers the basis to solve more problems," Pöttering said.