Monday

4th Mar 2024

Irish vote unleashes flurry of EU activity

Ireland's strong support for the EU treaty in its second referendum has sparked widespread relief in Brussels as well as a flurry of activity as European politicians consider the next moves for complete ratification of the treaty.

"Thank you Ireland! It's a great day for Ireland; it's a great day for Europe," said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, noticeably sporting a green tie.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Irish voters reversing their referendum vote of last year (Photo: Conor McCabe/Jason Clarke)

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish leader and currently head of the EU, congratulated Irish voters on the result after all the "uncertainty and hard work."

"The Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice," said a relieved Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, the fate of whose unpopular coalition government was linked to the outcome of the treaty vote.

He called the Irish vote a "declaration of intent to remain at the heart of Europe."

The final vote showed that 67.1 percent voted in favour of the new rules while 32.9 percent voted against, a 20 percent swing to the Yes side, when compared to the country's rejection of the EU treaty last year. Turnout was 58 percent.

With the vote now in the bag, the focus has already switched to the practicalities of implementing the Lisbon Treaty and particularly to the presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic.

Their signatures under the treaty, which has already been passed in the parliaments in Warsaw and Prague, are needed for the new rules to come into force across the 27 nation club.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski's office has already indicated that he will sign the document soon leaving his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus as the likely biggest opponent to the treaty.

The pressure has already started to get him to sign. Mr Barroso said "our member states have practically approved the Lisbon Treaty" before adding that he thought that Mr Klaus would sign the Treaty "in the end."

Mr Reinfeldt, for his part, said he had managed to speak to many European leaders on Saturday but not Mr Klaus. "I have tried to reach him, but it has not been possible."

What next?

The Czech president's delay affects a series of other decisions including the formation of the new commission, whose term expires at the end of the month and the appointment of the beefed-up EU foreign policy chief and permanent president of the European Council, new posts created by the treaty.

Mr Barroso said that as soon as the treaty is ready he would "be ready to form a new commission." But both the current commission's term as well as the current EU foreign policy chief's term can be extended if needed, said Mr Reinfeldt.

"It [the commission's mandate] can be prolonged after 1 November. It has happened on earlier occasions. One should also keep in mind that the high representative, who we have for the time being, [Javier] Solana, has a mandate that expires on 17 October. So also in his case there could be a continuation."

Mr Barroso, Mr Reinfeldt and the Czech prime minister Jan Fischer will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to decide the next steps and discuss the situation with MEPs.

Swedish Europe minister Cecilia Malmstrom is to be dispatched to Prague on Wednesday to "assess the situation."

Mr Klaus, meanwhile, said he thought it was "wrong" that the Irish had voted to give the EU the "right answer," although he said that it "rests" for him "to respect the outcome."

He added: "But my signature is not the order of the day. I will wait for the Constitutional Court's verdict."

Czech senators handed a complaint to the court about the treaty last week. The court is expected in three weeks' time to set a date for a public hearing on the case. The hearing is likely to take place towards the end of November.

Agenda

Defence, von der Leyen, women rights, in focus This WEEK

Ursula von der Leyen is expected to be confirmed as the EPP candidate for president of the next EU Commission. A new defence strategy will be unveiled this week, while the ECB is expected to maintain interest rates.

Opinion

The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves

Over the past few years, farming and hunting organisations have waged an unrelenting vendetta against the wolf, culminating in the European Commission's 180-degree policy U-turn, writes the director of the Humane Society International for Europe.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact

The European Commission has played down a diplomatic row over its recent minerals agreement with Rwanda, after Congolese president Felix Tshishekedi, who accuses Rwanda of plundering his country's natural resources, described the deal as a "provocation in very bad taste".

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

Latest News

  1. Defence, von der Leyen, women rights, in focus This WEEK
  2. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  3. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  4. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  5. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  6. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  7. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  8. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us