With Ireland having made its voice loud and clear on the Lisbon Treaty, attention now switches to the Czech Republic and Poland, which have yet to ratify the text.
The Treaty was endorsed by the Irish by a big majority in Saturday’s referendum. But the European Commission’s chief acknowledged the outcome owed much to harsh economic realities. Jose Manuel Barroso said: “I see the “yes” vote as a sign of confidence by the Irish people in the European Union, as a sign of their desire to be wholehearted members at the heart of the European Union, as a sign that Ireland recognises the role that the European Union has played in responding to the crisis. That is why this vote is so significant not only for the Irish but for the European Union.” Now only the eurosceptic presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic stand in the way of the Treaty. They said they would not sign up to it until after the Irish vote. Pressure is building on them to act. Dutch MEP Sophia In’T Veld said: “It’s not the Poles and the Czechs, it’s the Polish President and the Czech President. I think there is a big difference, because in both cases their national parliaments have decided to support the Lisbon Treaty, so it’s now up to these two individuals to take their responsibility and I hope they will recognise that 27 member states have taken a democratic decision and blocking such a decision is not democracy. I think they need to accept the majority of Europeans have said we want a stronger Europe.” But there is still some popular resistance to the Lisbon project in both countries. Street protests have been backed up by a legal challenge to the treaty from a group of Czech senators.