Wednesday

20th Mar 2019

Ireland to get until October to find solution to EU treaty impasse

  • Mr Barroso (r) said opening the institutional part of the Lisbon Treaty would be "extremely difficult" (Photo: © European Communities)

Irish prime minister Brian Cowen is set to win four months reprieve from EU leaders later today in order to work out "how to react" to Ireland's No to the Lisbon Treaty

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has already thrown his weight behind the idea. "I will fully endorse it," he said after speaking to Mr Cowen ahead of the EU leaders' summit.

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Mr Barroso said the October summit under the French EU presidency - which will kick in next month - is the "proper" time to re-visit the thorny topic.

In addition, he once again said that ratification of the new EU treaty should continue.

"The decision of the Irish people must be respected," the commission president said referring to the shock No vote one week ago. But he added that "the right of other member states to reach their own position on the treaty should also be respected."

Over dinner with his counterparts from the 26 other member states this evening, Mr Cowen is to present his government's detailed analysis of the situation that led to the rejection of the treaty.

But he stressed that "it is far too early to put forward proposals."

"I fully accept we will be working intensively to find what ways forward could be available to Ireland."

However, one potential exit strategy currently being floated – to maintain one commissioner for each member state in the future – was shot down by Mr Barroso.

He said it would be "extremely difficult to achieve any change of the Lisbon Treaty."

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the number of commissioners would be reduced to 18 in 2014 with equal rotation between member states for the commissioner-less periods.

The potential loss of an Irish commissioner featured in Ireland's debate before the treaty referendum.

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