Saturday, September 6, 2008

Irish “No” hits EU with a political impasse

Brussels, June 16 - The corridors of power in the European Commission, the Brussels- based executive of the European Union, were abuzz with rare activity June 13 with a mixture of shock and disbelief as the news of the “no” vote in the Irish referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty filtered in. 

Refusing to concede defeat on behalf of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, the Commission President, told journalists, “Of course it’s a disappointment, we wanted a different outcome,” adding, “(but) the result is important and we must respect it.” 

Declaring “the remaining ratification processes should maintain their course,” Barroso told a hurriedly conveyed press conference, “The Lisbon Treaty was signed by all 27 states. I believe that the treaty is alive and that we should go on. Ireland remains committed to building a strong Europe and playing a full and active part in the EU.” 

With 18 national parliaments already endorsing the Treaty, the Irish No has cast serious doubts over its future while eight national parliaments, including the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands still need to ratify it. 

The Netherlands, along with France, had rejected the earlier version in the form of the European Constitution. Reiterating that it is a “joint responsibility,” the Commission President said: “The EU institutions will continue to work for the EU citizens. The Lisbon Treaty (was) intended to solve some specific problems and the (Irish) No has not solved the problems that the treaty was designed to resolve.” 

Speaking to New Europe, Andrew Duff, British Liberal MEP said, “It’s a tragedy for Europe. The worst scenario will be a period of reflection. We have six days of intense reflection period and then (the European Council) should come up with a solution.” As Barroso threw the ball back in the court of Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen to explain the causes to other EU Member States, MEP Duff told journalists, “If Cowen comes up with a magic proposal then the Council can go ahead. Otherwise, we pause for five years and begin again.”

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