Only those who voted with a resounding Irish “No” to the European Union’s Lisbon reform treaty were celebrating in Dublin when the result came in.
But the major backers of the 27 nation EU have pledged to press ahead with the project.
The rejection puts a different complexion on next week’s meeting of EU leaders which will now be transformed into a crisis summit. The treaty was designed to streamline decision making. France and Germany believe the process is “still alive”.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is busy hosting US President Bush’s visit to France.
The French minister for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, expressed his regret over the Irish “no” vote.
“I am devastated,” he said, adding: “We must acknowldedge the Irish people’s decision and respect it.”
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso urged member states to continue taking joint decisions.
“The 27 heads of state and government will meet now next week and should see how to proceed. I believe the treaty is alive and we should now try to find a solution,” he said.
France and Germany are hoping that, as the treaty has already been ratified by 18 EU states, other members will follow suit.
Irish premier Brian Cowen said he respected the vote but it had caused a difficult situation that had no quick fix.
“Ireland has no wish to halt the progress of the EU,” he said.
British foreign secretary David Milliband has already pledged to press ahead with parliamentary ratification. But opposition politicians in Britain are now calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to hold a referendum.
“To press ahead with ratification would be flying in the face of public opinion,” said Conservative Party leader David Cameron.