19th Mar 2019

Study sees no realistic Plan B in case of Irish EU treaty rejection

  • Irish voters go to the polls on 12 June (Photo: wikipedia)

A rejection by Irish voters of the EU treaty in next month's referendum would be a "catastrophe" for Europe, because there is no credible Plan B, a new study has concluded.

A paper by the Bertelsmann foundation, a German think-tank, believes there are four possible courses of action if charter is rejected in Ireland on 12 June, but none is "especially exhilarating."

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It authors suggest that putting the treaty to voters again as happened in 2002 following Ireland's vote against the Nice Treaty the previous year is "not particularly probable" as French and Dutch voters were not asked to vote again on the now ditched EU constitution, which they rejected in 2005.

But amending the treaty is also seen as unrealistic as it is unclear what Ireland would need to change in the treaty to make it appeal to voters a second time round. In addition, this route would have to be approved by all member states, meaning going back to the drawing board and re-opening old institutional and political sores.

Offering Dublin the chance to opt out of certain areas could mean that ratification would not have to be re-commenced in other member states but it is unclear where the country could opt out.

It already does not take part in substantial parts of justice and home affairs areas and sensitive areas for the country, such as tax issues, remain unanimity issues under the Lisbon Treaty.

The paper suggests that the final option is that the EU "abandons its attempts to introduce comprehensive treaty reforms" looking instead to "minimal reforms" which could be introduced by a mini-treaty or by inter-institutional agreements.

"A "No" in the Irish referendum would simply be a catastrophe for Europe," the paper concludes.

Meanwhile Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg broke the political taboo on talking about a possible treaty rejection by Irish voters, but offered a more prosaic reaction.

He said it would lead to the "usual European crisis."

"Then we will look for some solution. However, at present, no one is ready to consider that the outcome may not be good," he was quoted as saying on Wednesday (14 May) by Czech news agency CTK.


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