Interview: All eyes on Ireland for fate of Lisbon Treaty
www.chinaview.cn 2007-12-13 04:35:51   Print

Chronology: key developments leading to Lisbon Treaty

Leaders of the 27-European Union (EU) members prepare to have group photos taken in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, Oct. 18, 2007. EU leaders reached an agreement on the landmark reform treaty in the early hours of Oct. 19, which introduces sweeping changes to the 27-nation bloc's institutions and seeks to simplify decision-making. Leaders of the 27 EU members began an informal summit in Lisbon on Oct. 18, aiming at concluding negotiations on a new EU treaty designed to replace the defunct EU constitution.

Leaders of the 27-European Union (EU) members prepare to have group photos taken in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, Oct. 18, 2007. EU leaders reached an agreement on the landmark reform treaty in the early hours of Oct. 19, which introduces sweeping changes to the 27-nation bloc's institutions and seeks to simplify decision-making. Leaders of the 27 EU members began an informal summit in Lisbon on Oct. 18, aiming at concluding negotiations on a new EU treaty designed to replace the defunct EU constitution.
(Xinhua/Chen Haitong)
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    BRUSSELS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- All eyes are on Ireland for the fate of the Lisbon Treaty as it is the only country that will hold a referendum on the text, said an expert with a think tank on European Union (EU) policies.

    The Lisbon Treaty, which is to be signed by EU heads of state and government in Lisbon on Thursday, must be ratified by all 27 EU member states before it enters into force.

    "The only country in which the ratification is at risk is Ireland because it is the only country where a referendum will be held," Antonio Missiroli, head of studies at the European Policy Center, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

    "Referenda, by definition, are unpredictable," he said.

    All Euroskeptics across the EU, particularly those from Britain, will flock to Ireland in order to campaign for a "NO," he said.

    The Irish referendum, which is required by the country's constitution, is expected to take place in spring 2008, almost the same period when the British House of Commons, where Euro skeptics abound, is expected to ratify the treaty.

    There might be uncertainties in these two countries, said Missiroli.

    He warned that the dynamics and the timing are important when it comes to the ratification process: which country will be the first to ratify; which will be the last? will there be hiccups in the process?

    Missiroli also expressed concern that ratification can be dragged on in certain countries, for example, Belgium.

    The complexity of the political system in the country dictates that ratification of the treaty must go through seven chambers. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of political agreement on the formation of a new federal government six months after general elections.

    There were initially controversy even over the capacity of care-taker Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as the representative of Belgium to sign the treaty in Lisbon.

    EU leaders hope that all member states can ratify the treaty by the end of 2008 so that elections of the European Parliament in 2009 will not be disrupted.

    Missiroli expressed "qualified optimism" over the ratification process of the treaty. However, he cautioned that Ireland is going to be a big question mark given the fact that voters in that country vetoed the Nice Treaty in 2001.

    "If Ireland has a NO, there will be ripple effects elsewhere. Other parliaments will suspend ratification; there will be calls for referendums in other countries. That is the possible domino effect."

    Missiroli said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have no choice but to stick to parliamentary approval as a referendum would almost certainly kill the Lisbon Treaty.

    Brown would not yield to conservative pressure to put the text to a referendum unless something dramatic happens within his Labor Party because a veto of the Lisbon Treaty would not only be disastrous for the EU, but also for Brown himself, said Missiroli.

    Poland had pledged to hold a referendum. But the newly installed government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has announced that it will seek parliamentary approval instead.

    The Czech Republic, which was tough in negotiations for the Lisbon Teaty, will not be a problem either as the country holds EU presidency in the first half of 2009, said Missiroli.

    "They cannot afford to be disruptive if they want to be a credible (EU) presidency," he said.

    Both France and the Netherlands, where voters rejected the EU Constitution in 2005, have announced that the Lisbon Treaty will be ratified in parliament.

    The veto in these two countries stalled the constitutional process and as a result EU leaders were forced instead to aim for a new treaty -- the Lisbon Treaty -- to address institutional reform.

    France has to change the constitution in order to ratify the Lisbon Treaty as the French constitution has reference to the EU constitution.

    Although French President Nicolas Sarkozy will need the support of opposition Socialist Party, there are no signs that the Socialists will work against the treaty.

    The Lisbon Treaty was agreed upon by EU heads of state and government at an October summit in Lisbon.

    The treaty was designed to make EU decision-making more efficient by revamping its institutions. It installs a new foreign policy chief for the EU and a long-term president for the European Council to replace the current six-month rotating presidency. The treaty also introduces the double majority voting system in decision-making, reduces the size of the executive European Commission, and gives national parliaments more power. 

EU leaders seal landmark reform treaty

    LISBON, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) leaders reached an agreement on the landmark reform treaty early Friday, laying foundations to reform the 27-nation bloc.

    "The Lisbon summit has achieved an agreement on a new treaty for Europe's future," Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose country holds the EU presidency, told reporters after marathon talks dragging into midnight.

Main points of the EU reform treaty as agreed at Lisbon summit

    LISBON, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) leaders reached an agreement on a landmark reform treaty early Friday, laying the foundation for reforming the 27-nation bloc.

    The new treaty, in place of the defunct constitution treaty rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005, aims to streamline the EU's decision-making mechanism in face of a globalized world and an enlarged bloc.

EU Reform Treaty: mission yet to be accomplished

    LISBON, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- After hours of negotiation, European Union (EU) leaders reached agreement early Friday on the text of a historic treaty which is expected to breathe new life into the increasingly cumbersome and inefficient EU machine.

    The treaty seeks to overhaul the 27-nation bloc's institutional structure and simplifies its decision-making process. Thursday's agreement put six years of debate to a close and ended two years of constitutional crisis -- nothing short of a remarkable achievement for all the EU leaders.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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