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Ireland embraces Lisbon Treaty. Will Blair be next EU president?

Ireland says 'yes' to Lisbon Treaty. Reforms will give European Union a unified foreign policy, and a permanent president.

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“There’s already a lot of despondency in Europe over the ability and will to become a relative power,” Mr. Klau adds.

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The Czechs are holding out
But there are some bumps in the road ahead. Polish president Lech Kaczynski must sign off, though he publicly promised to do so if the Irish voted ‘yes’.

A more serious challenge could come from Václav Klaus, the Czech president. The Czech Republic has said ‘yes’ to Lisbon. But Mr. Klaus must still sign, and he may try to stall efforts by the EU to seal Lisbon by the end of the year, citing a legal challenge by 17 Czech senators now before the Czech Constitutional Court. Klaus’ tactic is widely seen as buying time for a possible new government in Britain next May, that many expect would be headed by Tory David Cameron, who has vowed to put the Lisbon Treaty to a public vote, where it would likely fail. The British conservative party has also come out against Blair's EU presidency.

“Klaus is being unfair,” argues Mr. Giuliani. “All the European heads of state, the Poles and others, will work with Klaus for a normal attitude towards the treaty. The EU is giving the Czechs more than 12 billion euros for new investment. The pressure on Klaus will be quite high.”

It was reported today that Swedish Prime Minster Fredrik Reinfeldt and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will meet with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer in Brussels this week for a bit of arm twisting.

Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, an ardent advocate of Lisbon, warned that there would be economic consequences it the Czechs held out. Mr. Sarkozy is an advocate for Mr. Blair as the first EU president. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, another key decider, may push for a president from a country in the eurozone.

The Irish – under a steady stream of ‘yes’ campaigning by business leaders, from Dublin-based Ryanair, the US firm Intel, and others with a significant stake in Ireland and Europe – performed a volte-face from 2008. But the economic crisis made the ‘yes’ sales job much easier, particularly since the EU was helping bail out Irish banks.

“Today the Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice. It’s a good day for Ireland and a good day for Europe,” said Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen Saturday.

Under Lisbon, the EU will install a new commission, inagurate a president with a 30 month term instead of the current rotating six-month state presidency, and create a powerful High Representative in charge of the EU external affairs budget. Education, police and judiciary, and economic policy won’t be shaped by unanimous vote – though foreign policy will. Britain and Ireland can opt out of common security policy; Ireland will still be able to outlaw abortion.

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