EurActiv : Sarkozy 'isolated' in tough stance on enlargement

Czech Deputy Premier Alexandr Vondra has rejected a warning from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that EU enlargement will have to be stopped unless the Lisbon Treaty is ratified as a "kind of a lie", adding to a growing chorus of criticism from European leaders on the issue.

Sarkozy's warning that enlargement would not continue unless the Lisbon Treaty enters into force continues to make waves, especially in the countries where the ratification of the new EU treaty is running into difficulties.

"It simply is not true. Enlargement can go ahead even without the treaty," Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said, speaking in English in a 7 July interview for the Bloomberg news agency. "It's kind of a lie. It's not impossible. It's about political will," he added.
This is a good example of cultural misunderstanding within the EU. When Sarkozy says that EU enlargement "will have to be stopped" or "would not continue" unless the Lisbon Treaty is adopted, he did not mean that it was legally/technically impossible. He just meant that he would veto any further enlargement. That is in no way a lie, but a way to put pressure on countries that haven't yet ratified the treaty and favour further enlargement.

It is easy to see why Sarkozy does not wish to welcome new member states without the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty is aimed at, among others, simplifying the way EU institutions work. Current institutions were designed for 6 or 12 member states, and the decision making process (e.g. the unanimity vote on important issues) has become particularly difficult with 27 states around the table.

I personally wish that such reforms were made before (or simultaneously to) the 2004 enlargement. The EU can functions as it is now, but it would work much more efficiently with the reforms of the Lisbon Treaty (even half of them is still better than nothing).