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Way Open For Creation Of EU President After Czech Deal

Officials say the way has been cleared for the European Union to establish its first-ever bloc-wide president.

During talks in Brussels, Belgium, on October 29, EU leaders approved a proposal that is expected to enable the Czech Republic to ratify the EU's Lisbon reform treaty.

Czech officials said President Vaclav Klaus is now expected to sign the treaty if the Czech constitutional court rules that the EU pact does not violate Czech law. The court is expected to rule next week.

All of the EU's 27 member countries have ratified the treaty except for the Czechs.

The Czech president has been refusing to sign the treaty unless the Czech Republic receives an opt-out from the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights in order to protect the country from property claims by ethnic Germans who were stripped of their land and expelled after World War II.

Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, said he was not pleased about the Czech Republic's opt-out, but said that for the EU to succeed, the bloc sometimes needs to compromise.

"If you ask my personal opinion, it is clear, I don't like this kind of opt-out. Let us be absolutely clear, it would be much better for all (EU) member states to adhere to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. But, because we are a union of states and citizens, sometimes, we need to make some concessions and to recognize diversity in Europe," Barroso said.

The Lisbon treaty is aimed at improving the efficiency of decision-making within the EU and boosting the bloc's role on the world stage by creating the post of a fixed EU president.