[JURIST Europe] Belgium is set to become the fourteenth European Union country to ratify the European Constitution [official text; JURIST news archive] following its approval by the lower house of the Flemish Parliament [government website in Flemish]. The constitutional treaty was approved Wednesday by a majority of 84 to 29.
Approval by Belgium is viewed as a much needed boost for the Constitution after it stalled following French and Dutch rejection [BBC report] of the constitution last year in national referendums. Ratification faces one more local obstacle, however, as Flemish Prime Minister Yves Leterme [official profile] has stated that his government will endorse the Flemish parliamentary vote only if the application of the subsidiarity ('early warning') clause of the Constitution is made clear. The clause mandates that if at least a third of national parliaments provide a 'reasoned opinion' that a legislative proposal is not in line with the European Commission's mandate, the Commission must review the act. The Constitution can only take overall effect if 25 countries ratify it either by parliamentary vote or by referendum. Several European governments have recently suggested that they would like to resurrect the regional charter [JURIST report]. EUobserver has more.
Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.