EU Leaders Sign New Treaty

But some clamor for referendum
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 9:58 AM CST
Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis, left, and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, right, sign the EU's Lisbon Treaty during a ceremony in Lisbon, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007. The Lisbon Treaty, endorsed...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Two years after the French and Dutch rejected the European Constitution, leaders of the 27 EU nations are signing the new Treaty of Lisbon today, aimed to strengthen union decision-making. Unlike the previous document, this one does not require nation-by-nation referendums to be ratified. That's caused a tremendous political headache for Gordon Brown, who no-showed today's photo opportunity, to the consternation of EU bigwigs, says AFP.

Only Ireland is offering a referendum to its citizens, and only because it is constitutionally obligated to do so. The new treaty drops quasi-national elements of the constitution, such as an EU anthem and flag, but retains a permanent EU president, rather than the current rotating leadership, and a foreign policy chief. It trims the number of decisions that  require unanimous support, reducing national vetoes.