Irish commissioner says EU Treaty would be rejected in most countries
By Honor Mahony
Ireland's EU commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, has said that the Lisbon Treaty would be rejected by most member states if put to a referendum.
With just a few months to go before his own country's second referendum on the document, the plain-speaking former finance minister said 95 percent of the 27 member states would have said "no" to the new institutional rules if it had been put to a vote.
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The commissioner, in charge of the internal market, reckons all leaders know this and it is only officials working in the EU institutions who have unrealistic expectations about the popularity of the treaty, designed to streamline how the EU functions and removing the unanimity requirement for decision-making in most policy areas.
"When Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty a year ago, the initial reaction ranged from shock to horror to temper to vexation. That would be the view of a lot of the people who live in the Brussels beltway," he told the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland on Friday (26 June), reports the Irish Times.
"On the other hand, all of the [political leaders] know quite well that if the similar question was put to their electorate by a referendum the answer in 95 per cent of the countries would probably have been 'No' as well."
"I have always divided the reaction between those two forces: those within the beltway, the 'fonctionnaires', those who gasp with horror [on the one hand] and the heads of state, who are far more realistic. They are glad they didn't have to put the question themselves to their people."
Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum a year ago. In the run up to that vote, Mr McCreevy stole the headlines by saying he had not read the treaty from cover to cover and that no "sane" person had done so.
His admission prompted Irish journalists to ask other politicians about whether they had done their Lisbon homework, eventually exposing the fact that Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen had not read it either.
This time round, Irish voters, shaken by the devastating effects the economic crisis has had on the country, are thought more like to vote "Yes". Recent polls have indicated a majority intend to give the green light to the document,
At a summit earlier in June, EU leaders agreed to a set of guarantees on the Lisbon Treaty designed to persuade voters to say "Yes".
The treaty needs to be approved by all member states before going into force. Ratification has also not yet been completed in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, where the president of all three countries have to sign the document.