20 June 2008

No "quick Fix" for Europe

Taoiseach Brian Cowen (left) has told EU leaders that there is "no quick fix" to resolve the dilemma caused by the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Irish voters. Speaking at a press conference after the EU Summit meeting, he made it clear that it is "too early to know how we can move forward at this time".

He said that it has been a busy number of days and that the only potential way forward would need to be acceptable to Ireland and other countries. He added that a number of EU members have indicated that they have no interest in reopening negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty.

When asked about whether a second referendum would be held, the Taoiseach said he could not say whether there would be a further vote on Lisbon. The Irish government could not go beyond where they are at the moment. They are currently analysing the results of the Lisbon Treaty's rejection.

It was also revealed that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Ireland at the beginning of his EU presidency and in the aftermath of Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

Earlier President Sarkozy said he intended to go to Ireland to help finding a solution, but he said he was determined not to re-open the debate on the institutions of the EU.

The French President also declared that the (British) EU's Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson (right) is partly to blame for Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
Mandelson, a former Northern Secretary, had upset Irish farmers with his strategy at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.

Speaking on the second day of the EU summit in Brussels, President Sarkozy said: "We were going to negotiate, in the case of the WTO, a 20% reduction in European agricultural production. Reducing agricultural production by 20% in a world where there are 800 million people dying of hunger, every 30 seconds a child dies of hunger, is unacceptable."
"Quite honestly," the French President added, "there is one person who is of this opinion, and that is Mr. Mandelson. It is not France's position."

Padraig Walshe, the President of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), stated that Mr. Sarkozy was correct in highlighting the damage that Commissioner Mandelson had done to farmers' opinion in the run-up to the Lisbon referendum.

Meanwhile Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food rejected comments from Mr. Mandelson that NO campaigners in the Lisbon Treaty campaign were "allowed to spread misinformation".
Speaking at the Farmfest event in Co. Galway, Brendan Smith said the government's focus was now on addressing the issues raised during the campaign, as part of the effort to resolve the difficulties raised by the Irish rejection of the treaty.

The increasing hesitation of the Czech Republic over the Lisbon Treaty was also a point of focus at the EU summit. Ahead of today's session, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he did not think the Czechs would block the treaty. He added that he thought the treaty would be ratified in all the remaining member states.

However, the Belgian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Olivier Chastel was sceptical, saying the Czechs were "not willing to listen to reason". This statement coincides with the strong views expressed by the Czech President Václav Klaus three days ago. Klaus had congratulated Ireland on a "victory for democracy against bureaucracy and elitist EU plans". Meanwhile the Lisbon Treaty has been referred to the Czech Constitutional Court for closer examination and a growing number of politicians from the ruling party have expressed their doubts about the value of the Lisbon Treaty for their country and progress in the EU.

Luxembourg has warned that the EU will not be able to enlarge further without the Lisbon Treaty. This is quite a correct analysis, but in my opinion it is actually a good and welcome fact. The EU is already too large and has admitted in recent years new members without proper scrutiny. While - for example - Greece, Portugal and Spain had to wait many years for their EU membership (which was only granted after they had reformed their political systems and laws), Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the EU after only a few years, without achieving the required and necessary stability and democracy. Bulgaria is virtually run by organised crime gangs, and Romania has still great shortfalls in the fields of economy and political participation.

Slovenia, another new member which currently holds the EU Presidency, said that Ireland's rejection of a new EU treaty should not slow down the process of enlarging the union. This is, however, a minority position.

Separately, the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said he expected negotiations with Ireland on what it might do with regards to the rejected Lisbon Treaty would take place in the first half of next year. On January 1st, 2009 the Czech Republic will succeed France (which takes the chair on July 1st) in the rotating six-months EU Presidency.

The Emerald Islander

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