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Diplomats say conditions for new Irish referendum are met

At the close of the first day of the EU summit, European leaders agreed in principle to make concessions to Ireland so that a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty can be held. Irish voters rejected the EU reform treaty in June.

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Reuters - Ireland will get guarantees on key concerns from its European Union partners enabling it to hold a second referendum on the bloc's Lisbon reform treaty by next November, diplomats said on Thursday.

Exact details of the deal still had to be thrashed out by EU leaders at a two-day summit in Brussels, but the envoys said they had reached agreement in principle giving Dublin assurances on the issues which prompted Irish voters to reject the treaty in June.

"There is a deal on the roadmap ... There's a wide agreement on Lisbon, but we'll need to come back on some details tomorrow," one EU diplomat said following an initial discussion on the matter by the bloc's 27 leaders.

The Lisbon Treaty -- successor to the defunct EU constitution -- aims to streamline EU decision-making and give the bloc more weight in the world by creating a long-term president figure and its own foreign policy supremo.

A draft document obtained earlier by Reuters suggested Ireland could hold a second poll by the end of October 2009 if Dublin's concerns could be addressed, notably on the retention of a permanent Irish seat in the European Commission.

"(Irish Prime Minister Brian) Cowen said he is ready to hold another referendum next year. He said there needs to be 27 commissioners," another diplomat said of the current number of commissioners, which the treaty would have cut to 18.
 

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