washington-times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jun/17/eu-tries-to-rescue-treaty-after-veto-by-irish-vote/

DUBLIN — EU foreign ministers faced mounting confusion at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday in an attempt to salvage a political union of the 27-nation bloc after a veto by Irish voters.

Some are urging other EU countries to press ahead with ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, even without Ireland’s approval, while others are demanding that the pact be scrapped altogether.

“The rules are absolutely clear: If all 27 countries do not pass the Lisbon Treaty it cannot pass into law,” said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

French European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet told French radio that there was “no other solution” than for Ireland to hold a second popular referendum, akin to the scenario in which Ireland rejected an EU treaty in 2001 before passing it during a second attempt a year later.

Speaking in Dublin early on Monday afternoon. EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, a former Irish finance minister, said that there is no question of Ireland being “bullied” by the EU into holding a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Monday’s meeting precedes a two-day summit Thursday and Friday of European leaders, who are expected to take up the same issue.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged that ratification to continue in the eight countries that still have to rule on the treaty.

A spokesman at the Irish Ministry for Foreign Affairs told The Washington Times that “there is no quick-fix solution” to the issue.

Ireland is the only country to hold a popular vote on the treaty, which was drawn up after French and Dutch voters rejected a proposed EU constitution in 2005.

Proponents of the Lisbon Treaty portray it as a necessary streamlining measure, which would create the post of European president and forge a common EU foreign policy.

Opponents regard it as a blueprint for a bureaucrat-driven federal European state.

One of those opponents in Ireland is the campaign group Cóir, which means “justice” in Irish.

“This is the third time that this treaty has been defeated, first in France, then in the Netherlands and now in Ireland. It is quite clear that the people of Europe do not want to be dragged into a federal EU superstate by their politicians,” Coir spokesman Richard Greene told The Washington Times.

“It is also quite clear that while the people of Europe are saying that economic integration is a good thing, they are also saying that total political integration is not the path that they want to go down.”

Hugo Brady, research fellow at the Center for European Reform think-tank in London, said it would be tough for other European nations to criticize the Irish over the no vote.

“Everyone knows that this treaty, put to a popular referendum elsewhere, would have very little chance of surviving,” he said.

Follow us on Twitter