Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, reporting to the rest of the European leaders’ Council on why voters in his country rejected the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in a referendum, has said he looks forward to returning to Brussels in December to define a common path to follow.
Cowen cited reasons the referendum did not go the way its supporters had hoped: voters’ objections to the future composition of the European Commission, defence policy and neutrality worries, social questions – alluding to abortion, and the much-prized freedom to set tax policies.
European Parliament member Alain Lamassoure unleashed a rebuke to the voters, saying small countries like Ireland would not have survived the current financial turmoil if they had not been EU members. He said it was thanks to the euro and solidarity that Ireland had not ended up like Iceland.
To assuage the Irish voters’ reservations to the Lisbon Treaty, a reassuring declaration could be tacked on – eventually. All the EU states have to ratify it for it to come into force. Sweden and the Czech Republic are also hanging back.