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The Irish ‘no’ and what comes next

Latest update : 2008-06-30

Last year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy re-negotiated a simplified treaty that would allow him to tackle big issues such as defence and immigration without having to worry about institutional questions. The Irish 'no' now contradicts the agenda.

View our special report on The French presidency of the European Union.

 

 

France takes over the EU presidency July 1with an outlook that’s gloomier than expected. A year ago, a triumphant Nicolas Sarkozy renegotiated a simplified treaty, which was expected to be ratified in France without any hurdles, and would allow him to shift his focus from endless institutional questions to other important priorities. Ireland’s "no" vote shook this well-planned agenda.

 

Now the French president has to find a solution to get out of this institutional mess.
 
After his meeting with Irish PM Brian Cowen on July 11, Nicolas Sarkozy will need to close in on ways to solve the problems expressed by Irish voters. He’ll have to draw up a common battle plan with the other 26 members, without giving in to pressure.
 
In the end it will be necessary to convince an isolated Ireland to organize a new referendum. But until then, there are many obstacles: the Czech Republic could be one of them. The country remains divided over the treaty. When asked about ratification, euroskeptic President Vaclav Klaus declared the Lisbon Treaty dead and said the Czech vote wouldn’t really count anymore: “The treaty cannot be ratified or implemented, with or without the Czech vote,” he said.
 
In the Czech Republic, the ratification process starts in the Constitutional Court, which is due to announce its decision this fall. It then goes to the Senate, where the text is expected to be blocked…. The president has little power, but he is pushing ahead with a strong ‘no’ campaign alongside the government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, which is far from being pro-Europe.
  
The Polish parliament has passed the treaty but Polish President Lech Kaczynski is still pondering whether to sign it….The French presidency’s strategy is to get the Czechs and the Swedes - who still haven’t ratified the treaty - on board  to kick off the process. France can expect Berlin’s support on the matter. The Irish vote crisis led to warmer ties between France and Germany.
  
If the text is approved in a new referendum in a short period of time, the Lisbon Treaty could be implemented just in time, by Jan. 1 as per the plan – or hopefully before the European elections in June 2009.
 
 
 

Date created : 2008-06-28

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