Lisbon treaty ratification still in the doldrums

With all attention on Georgia it’s easy to forget that the European Union remains mired in the institutional crisis created by the Irish No on the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. With Irish ministers drifting back from their holidays, the issue will be getting more attention. Today’s Irish Times reports on what the Irish officials trying to deal with the crisis will view as an unwelcome leak: that a delegation visited Denmark to understand the technical details of Denmark’s opt-outs from the Treaty of Maastricht — opt-outs which, ironically, the Danes had hoped to unwind by referendum to be a full player in Lisbon implementation until they got uneasy following the Irish vote.

The backdrop for all this is the strange process that the Irish government agreed with the other 26 on how to move forward: an opinion poll to understand the reasons for the No vote — consultation with the representatives of the people in parliament deemed insufficient for this purpose — and then a decision by the end of the French presidency on resolution. It seems to have been assumed in official circles that “resolution” meant a 2nd referendum with enough of a wiggle factor in what was being voted on to make it not exactly like the rejected treaty, but this Financial Times account accurately notes the hostile political reaction when one minister floated this possibility.

On the other hand, Ireland gets regular reminders of the benefits of its current ability to play the full EU system to its benefit: note for instance the prospect of another batch of UK corporations switching their tax domicile to Ireland, and the plans of UK building society Nationwide to set up in Ireland so as to be able to borrow against mortgage-backed securities from the ECB. Whether all these conflicting instincts and incentives can be lined up behind a single package by the end of the year is a major doubt.

2 thoughts on “Lisbon treaty ratification still in the doldrums

  1. Isn’t it just a matter of communicating with the voters about the benefits of staying in the EU? If the pro-Lisbon side can engage with the Irish public, it ought to be able to overcome this hurdle.

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