Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Caution, another Cast Lead lies ahead'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rising into the ranks of Haute Couture

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies cast light on dark history

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • US prepared to negotiate Gaza ceasefire, Obama says

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

EU fears Irish rejection of Lisbon Treaty

©

Latest update : 2008-06-06

Ireland holds a referendum next Thursday on the Lisbon Treaty, with polls predicting a majority to vote "NO." this has Prime Minister Brian Cowen and EU leaders worried about the dire consequences. (Report: M.-N. Bauer/France 2)

A poll showing that the EU reform treaty could be rejected in an Irish referendum next week set alarm bells ringing in Dublin and Brussels on Friday.
  
An Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll showed a dramatic shift in public opinion with the "no" vote ahead for the first time in the campaign.
  
That led to Prime Minister Brian Cowen warning that a "no" vote for the Lisbon Treaty could endanger Ireland's slowing economy, and an anxious European Union urging the Irish electorate to turn out in high numbers for Thursday's vote.
  
The poll suggested that opponents of the treaty have doubled their support in the last three weeks, threatening a victory which could plunge the whole of the 27-country EU into turmoil.
  
Ireland is the only country holding a referendum on the treaty, which aims to streamline decision-making in a bloc that has expanded eastwards in recent years to embrace many former Communist nations.
  
But many Irish voters say they struggle to understand the complex treaty document, despite a vigorous "yes" campaign led by Cowen and backed by all but one of the country's main political parties.
  
The poll says 35 percent of respondents now intend to vote "no," compared with 30 percent in the "yes" camp. Some 28 percent are still undecided, while seven percent say they will not take part at all.
  
The Lisbon Treaty was thrashed out last year as a compromise after Dutch and French voters rejected a wider-ranging constitution for the EU and caused paralysis in the bloc.
  
Cowen, who took over as prime minister from Bertie Ahern last month, made a fresh plea for people to "enthusiastically vote yes."
  
He told Friday's Irish Independent newspaper that the treaty was designed to safeguard Ireland's once-booming economy that has recently shown clear signs of slowing down.
  
"It's about jobs. I mean, it's about trying to secure jobs. It's about finding means of growing the economy further," the former finance minister said.
  
"Having an effective union that's fit for purpose, that's meeting the modern challenges of economic and financial integration, (and) these bigger problems of climate change and cross-border crime.
  
"These are big issues that have to be dealt with cooperatively."
  
An anxious European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- urged a high turn-out.
  
"If there is one thing that the commission wants to emphasise today, it is that it is very important for the Irish people to use their right to vote," said Johannes Laitenberger, spokesman for EU commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.
  
In 2001, Ireland sent shockwaves through the EU when it voted "no" to the Nice treaty on enlargement and institutional reform, but that decision was reversed in another referendum the following year after reassurances that Ireland's 80-year commitment to military neutrality would be honoured.
  
However, this time, as Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said: "There isn't a Plan B. This is the Plan B."
  
He warned a "no" vote would do "incalculable damage" because "the signal we are sending to our biggest market is that we are not interested in it."
  
Declan Ganley, the multi-millionaire businessman who heads the anti-treaty Libertas group, said the poll was encouraging but "should be taken with a grain of salt."
  
"There are five full days of campaigning still to go in this campaign, and the referendum is still there for the taking by either side," he said.
  
Euro-MP Mary Lou McDonald, of Sinn Fein, the only mainstream party opposed to the treaty, insisted it could be negotiated if it is rejected.
  
"I believe the government can secure a better deal but I do accept it will require public pressure and a very strong mandate on June 12 to achieve that," she said.
  
In a sign of the sensitivity of the vote, EU nations abandoned talks Friday on making it easier to divorce, to avoid upsetting mainly Catholic Ireland.
  
EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot said: "It just wasn't the right moment."

Date created : 2008-06-06

Comments

COMMENT(S)