27th Sep 2023

Ireland promises Lisbon clarity in December

  • Anti-Lisbon treaty protesters in front of the European Commission in Brussels on Wednesday (Photo: EUobserver)

Irish leader Brian Cowen on Wednesday (15 October) briefed EU colleagues on Ireland's progress since its rejection of the EU's Lisbon treaty in June, promising to present an action plan on a way out of the deadlock by December.

"Four months have elapsed since our referendum and our domestic political debate is taking its course, but still has some way to go," he told EU heads of state and government gathering for the October summit in Brussels.

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Mr Cowen insisted that "it is not yet possible to be prescriptive about outcomes" of the Irish debate, but said he aimed to "have identified the necessary steps that need to be taken next year" by the EU leaders' next meeting in December.

"I look forward to returning here in December with a view to our defining together the elements of a solution and a common path to follow," the taoiseach told fellow state leaders.

The Irish premier also highlighted the efforts his government had put into finding a way out of the stalemate.

Following the No vote, Ireland had "commissioned a comprehensive, independent study into the reasons why people voted the way they did."

In the aftermath of the publication of the survey results, a parliamentary committee on Ireland's future in the European Union was established, with a task to examine "the issues that arose during the [referendum] campaign, including the concerns highlighted by the survey, and how they sit in the broader context of our EU membership," Mr Cowen said.

The committee is due to issue its report by the end of November.

Under pressure

Ireland has been under increasing pressure from other EU governments to find a way to pass the Lisbon treaty, despite the No vote in June, as 22 EU states have already ratified the document.

Sweden is expected to do so in the next months, while there are still question marks regarding ratification in the Czech republic, set to chair the EU in early 2009, Poland and Germany.

Dublin is also under increasing time pressure, as it seems increasingly likely that the June elections to the European Parliament will have to be held according to current EU rules, which foresee a reduction of the number of MEPs to 736.

The current rules would also force a reduction in the number of EU commissioners from the current one-per-state figure of 27, with a new commission to be appointed after the elections next year.

"I am extremely mindful that there are important milestones in the course of 2009 which require clarity at an early date," the Irish premier said.

"We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that we can overcome the uncertainty that currently exists," he added.


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