The new EU treaty might not be ratified because "sensitive" countries such as Britain will pick over the detail of a text that many consider is too "close" to the rejected Constitution, the man in charge of the process has said.
Slovenia, which takes up the EU's rotating presidency on New Year's Day, is preparing itself for a torrid six months as most member states attempt to push the treaty through national parliaments before the summer.
Janez Jansa, Slovenia's prime minister, told The Daily Telegraph that a smooth ratification could not be taken for granted. "We cannot exclude the possibility that something will go wrong," he said.
The "sensitive cases" - Britain, France, the Netherlands and Ireland, which is required by its constitution to hold a referendum - are all expected to try to rush through ratification by the end of June 2008.
Mr Jansa said that after French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution in 2005, Europe's elites were using the parliamentary route rather than risky popular votes to ratify the accord.
- "RISKY POPULAR VOTES" - YES: DEMOCRACY IS SO... MESSY AND INEFFICIENT.
- THE LISBON TREATY IS ABOUT AS POPULAR IN EUROPE AS THE SHAMNESTY BILL WAS HERE. IT'S A DEAL THE ELITES WANT, NOT THE PEOPLE.
- PEOPLE WANT MORE RESPONSIVENESS IN THEIR GOVERNMENT, NOT LESS.
LET'S HOPE THE TREATY FAILS.