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Friday, June 19, 2009

Cowen, you leave with nothing

The conclusions of the EU summit have finally arrived. Despite a whole year of promising to respect the Irish no vote, EU leaders have decided not to change a single word of the Lisbon Treaty to reflect Irish concerns, and instead will hand it back to them to vote on exactly as it was before. There won't even be the shifting of paragraphs around that we saw after the French and the Dutch voted no to the original EU Constitution. That would have caused too many headaches for other EU leaders - any changes at all to the text mean that the whole thing has to be ratified again.

The Council decided on a list of declarations, but because these have absoultely no force in EU law, they will need to be ratified by all member states at a future date - and EU leaders have decided that should be done alongside ratification of the Croatian Accession Treaty - whenever that comes along.

A huge question mark therefore hangs over whether or not the declarations will ever actually become legally-binding (any member state could in future decide not to bother ratifying, or a Parliament might reject the Treaty), but as the conclusions themselves acknowledge, even if they do enter EU law, they do absolutely nothing to change the text of the Lisbon and how it applies in Ireland. This is because, unlike in 1992 when Denmark got opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty after it was rejected in a referendum, Ireland is seeeking no opt-outs at all from the Treaty - not even on the thorny issue of the mutual defence clause, which experts say is incompatible with Irish neutrality.

This is a disaster for Brian Cowen. Nothing at all in the Treaty has been changed - Irish people now have even more reason to vote no than they did the last time, because now it's clearer than ever that the EU has not a shred of respect for their concerns.

See here for our analysis of the outcome: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/irishguarantees.pdf

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