Guest Student Editorial – David Rank (Lower 6th Form)

In an unexpected turn of events, Ireland has rejected the controversial Lisbon Treaty. Following a nationwide referendum, the Irish rejection has placed the future of the Treaty into disarray.

 

However, President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso has since declared the Treaty is ‘not dead’ despite the necessity for a unanimous vote in each of the twenty seven EU states. Barroso continued to state ‘we should not rush to conclusions’ causing many analysts to believe the choice of the Irish people could even be overridden by their political leaders. The Treaty was signed in December 2007 by the leaders of each state with the hope of it gradually coming into force from January 2009, however, the Irish rejection has placed its future into turmoil.

 

Under existing circumstances there are still options open for the Treaty but none of them can be implemented easily. Nine countries are yet to ratify the treaty causing many to believe by the time that process ends, a solution for the Irish “exception” mayt have been negotiated. For example, Ireland could be granted additional opt-outs and guarantees on sensitive issues such as abortion and national neutrality in order to ensure the Treaty has the backing of the Irish people.

 

Alternatively, The EU could scrap the Lisbon Treaty just as the proposals for the Constitution were repackaged following the Lisbon Treaty following French and Dutch ‘No’ votes in 2005. Key parts of Lisbon could be repackaged into a shorter, more comprehensible document to voters throughout Europe. Under this scenario, the ratification process starts again and Ireland holds another referendum. In 2001 Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty but then said ‘Yes’ to it just over a year later causing this process to appear a possibility. However, the process is already appearing indefinite while a further repackaging would just appear time consuming with no end in sight.

 

Perhaps most drastically a two tier system could be developed. Those nations keen on further EU integration could form an informal club within the EU creating dangerous internal tension. Both Ireland and the UK prefer a looser union which could threaten their position within the EU.

Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, reflected Barroso’s statement: “Once again in Europe, a treaty supported by the leaders of all member states has unable to secure popular support in a ballot. We must not rush to conclusions.” He went on to explain the Irish government seeks to explain to EU officials that this does not mean Ireland are now anti-EU, making negotiations and compromise appear likely,

Foreign secretary David Miliband declared Britain would not pressurize Ireland on their future actions. He continued to state: “It’s right that we follow the view that each country must see the ratification process to a conclusion”,

The referendum is undoubtedly a historical event in Irish and European politics, with the continental project reaching a stumbling block by a country with a population of only four million people. With a low turnout of 40 per cent (the minimum necessary to make the referendum valid) and a narrow vote of 53.4% to 46.6% against the Treaty, some analysts have come to question the structure of the EU with such a small percentage of the overall population impeding the development of the Union.

The future of EU development appears to continue to be a highly divisive issue. Since the nature of the EU causes the backing of each state to be essential, future European integration remains without resolution.

 

David Rank – Portland Place School

Advertisements

One Response

  1. …but the turnout was not low. It was high, well over 50%.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: