EU ministers ask Ireland to explain ‘no’ to Lisbon Treaty

June 17th, 2008 - 7:09 am ICT by IANS  

Luxembourg, June 16 (DPA) The European Union’s (EU) foreign ministers Monday called on their Irish colleague to explain his countrymen’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, warning that no quick solutions were in sight. “Ireland signed the Lisbon Treaty, it is up to her to find a solution,” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said at a meeting in Luxembourg.

But his Austrian colleague, Ursula Plassnik, said it would be unfair to isolate Ireland and called on all 27 member states to come up with a way out of the impasse.

“We are not going to put anyone in a corner, let alone the Irish. We must be fair towards them and listen to what they have to say,” Plassnik said.

On Thursday, Ireland held a referendum on the EU’s new Lisbon Treaty, which is meant to streamline the 27-member bloc’s decision-making process and boost its global influence.

Results released Friday showed that 53.4 percent of voters had rejected the treaty, meaning that Ireland cannot ratify it, and that the treaty cannot therefore come into effect anywhere in the EU.

Meanwhile, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said ministers had little choice but to listen to what Ireland’s Michael Martin had to say and take time to think things over.

“I don’t have any solutions. We’re going to listen to minister Martin - maybe he has a solution. But certainly we’re going to wait, think, analyse, consult and we must respect the vote that’s taken place,” said Rupel.

The vote caused dismay in Europe, with Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb saying “the whole process started in May 2000… and here we are eight years later still trying to struggle to get the treaty through. The challenges that we face have gone nowhere.”

Placed on the defensive, Ireland’s Martin said it was “too early for any solutions or proposals.”

And there was consensus that the eight EU states which had not yet ratified the treaty should do so, despite the Irish no.

But few officials on Monday were willing to say how they thought the EU could solve the problem.

One exception was Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn, who proposed writing a declaration reassuring the Irish that the treaty would not impact on their abortion laws, tax legislation or neutrality - three issues which were of key concern ahead of Thursday’s vote.

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