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The EU's new beginning

The Czech president — the sole remaining holdout of 27 heads of state — has finally given his long-awaited signature to the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, clearing away the last obstacle for reforms the bloc believes will increase its efficiency and its international clout.

Vaclav Klaus didn’t want to sign the Lisbon Treaty. He's openly against closer unification of the European bloc, which is one of the main purposes of the document that also streamlines bureaucracy and creates the high-profile posts of EU president and foreign minister

But just hours after a Czech court threw out the last legal challenge by opponents of the treaty on Tuesday, Klaus signed it. Not even his own cabinet had predicted he would move that quickly.

The treaty will now come into force on Dec. 1. The Swedish presidency of the EU, currently in Washington for the two-day EU-U.S summit, plans to call leaders together within the next couple of weeks to consider nominees for the new top jobs

The bloc’s current chief diplomat, High Representative Javier Solana, says the Lisbon Treaty will “open a new era for the European Union.”