Irish revote likely on EU treaty
Meeting in Brussels, European Union leaders signaled their intent to ensure that all 27 member states ratify the key treaty, which governs EU decisionmaking. But Czech approval also appears in doubt.
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Meeting in Brussels, European Union leaders signaled their intent to prevent a two-tiered union by ensuring that all 27 member states ratify the treaty.
Even as they did, however, concerns rose about the Czech Republic's ability to do so, as the Czech senate has demanded a court ruling on the treaty's constitutionality.
Last week, almost 54 percent of Irish voters rejected the treaty, which will govern EU decisionmaking and institutions. That disrupted expectations that the treaty would be concluded by the end of the summer. Now, the Irish government has until October to complete its analysis of the referendum result and present a strategy for future ratification.
"It's not being said specifically yet, but it is quite clear that the other countries, especially Germany and France, want the Irish to vote again," says Simon O'Connor, editor of E!Sharp, a Brussels-based magazine on European Union affairs.
But discussion is under way of the modifications that might be needed to persuade Irish voters to change their minds. A Eurobarometer public opinion survey found that 76 percent of "no" voters believed the negative result would put Ireland in a strong position to negotiate the treaty.
Sinn Féin, the only Irish political party to advocate a no vote, has compiled a list of revisions it would like to see to the treaty. These include workers' rights, protection of public services, and military neutrality.
"Of course the government will say that this list is too ambitious, too detailed, and undeliverable," said Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, a member of the Irish parliament, during a debate on the treaty. "However, already we are hearing from a range of [supportive] voices across the EU, in governments, opposition parties, and social movements."
But Mr. O'Connor, speaking by phone from Brussels, argued that there could be no renegotiation, as that would require a reratification by the 19 countries that have already endorsed it. "Even if you changed one word, it would need reratification," he says.
Instead, Irish voters are likely to be offered clarifying declarations issues that emerged during the referendum campaign, even if some of these are unnecessary.
"Most of the issues that were raised like abortion, neutrality, and corporation tax raised have very little to do with the content of the treaty," says Gavin Barrett, a senior lecturer in law at University College's School of Law in Dublin. But, he says, clear declarations will be needed that maintain Ireland's neutrality as EU members move toward closer military cooperation and that ensure that Ireland's low corporation tax won't be raised as part of French plans for tax harmonization.