Stanley's blog

According to Oscar Wilde, wisdom comes with winters. I believe it essential that the Lisbon Treaty ratification process be decided before the June Parliamentary elections and not wait until next October. Winter begins some 10 days after the December summit on 11-12 and that’s where and when a decision must be taken.The Irish government and establishment insist that they cannot get a ‘yes’ from the Irish voters until October. Why take the chance, having regard to the unreliability it has shown in the past? There is no guarantee of success and the negative consequences of a ‘no’ in October 2009 are much greater than in Spring.

The latter means election campaigns dominated by the Lisbon Treaty and handing the initiative to the Eurosceptics, which could resolve in a very fractured parliament with a substantial Eurosceptic membership.

Furthermore, the current financial and pending economic meltdowns need the undivided attention of the EU leaders, who should not be distracted by solving the Irish institutional problem. The context has now changed and so have EU priorities.

From an Irish government standpoint, Ireland’s image has been tarnished and its influence reduced. The Europan Parliament this week adopted a resolution urging a resolution before the Elections.

The world has moved on and the context changed since the referendum. Europe has been playing a leadership role in tackling the global financial crisis and is now driving for a reform of the international governance system, with a series of global summits planned. If the Union is seriously to influence these fundamental decisions that will be taken over the next few years, the Union must not be paralysed by indecision brought on by the Irish ‘no’.

Financial and economic policy cannot be divorced from politics. We need the strong external line-up and increased efficiency of working methods envisaged by the Treaty of Lisbon, and above all, to demonstrate our ability to act decisively together. The future shape of our societies will be molded in the coming years, and we must ensure that this not be decided by others because of our own default.

That is why the Irish electorate must be asked to ratify the treaty – with appropriate explanations and safeguards – but early next year. The pressure comes from world events, not from the other Member States.

What then should be done? We can’t overcome the credibility gap between the political class and the rest. Logical arguments will not win through.

First and foremost, we need strong and decisive Irish leadership. It is time we knew the true constitutional position.

In my view, all the Irish concerns can be met by an interpretive declaration:

Irish neutrality will not be impaired.

  • Abortion would not have to be permitted.
  • Irish sovereignty would not be jeopardised.
  • An Irish Comissioner is not necessarily lost. The European Council might go further and agree that the Commission will remain one per Member State.

Two other clarifications would be useful:

  • The treaty be better explained. The form in which it was presented in Ireland was incomprehensible.
  • Confirmation that the treaty cannot be renegotiated.

Europe has a potential leadership roll internatonally. Let’s not complicate life.

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