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22nd Feb 2019

Ireland promises Lisbon ratification by end of 2009

  • Irish voters said No to the Lisbon Treaty on 12 June. (Photo: EUobserver)

Ireland has promised to ratify the EU's Lisbon Treaty by November next year in exchange for concessions from the other EU states on its key demands.

A document green-lighted by EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday (11 December) reads: "The Irish government is committed to seeking ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the term of the current [European] Commission," in November 2009.

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"It is important to Irish society and to future generations that we make the right decision now in terms of retaining an active, influential role at the heart of the European Union," Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin told RTE Radio prior to the decision.

In exchange, EU leaders have agreed that each member country will keep one commissioner in the next European Commission if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force.

In its current form, the Lisbon Treaty foresees a reduction of the commission whereby as of 2014 just two-thirds of the member states would have a commissioner at any one time. The reduction can be changed by the EU countries however, if they agree to such a move unanimously.

Dublin has said that according to their research into why their citizens voted No, keeping their commissioner had been a key concern, together with holding on to its traditional neutrality. Ireland has also sought assurances that the EU would not impose rules concerning taxation or "ethical issues", such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriages.

Ireland has secured concessions on these points as well.

"The European Council [EU member states] has carefully noted the other concerns of the Irish people presented by the taoiseach as set out in the statement annexed relating to taxation policy, family, social and ethical issues, and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) with regard to Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality," reads the document.

"The European Council agrees that these concerns shall be addressed to the mutual satisfaction of Ireland and the other member states by way of the necessary legal guarantees," it continues.

The Irish "commitment" to pass the Lisbon Treaty means the country is likely to hold a second referendum on the document sometime next year, possibly before the end of October.

The Irish first rejected the text on 12 June by a vote of 53.4 to 46.6 percent.

An Irish Times poll last month showed that given such assurances, voters would approve the treaty in a second referendum, however, with 43 percent of respondents saying they would now vote Yes, 39 percent No and 18 percent having no opinion.

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