A supporter of the anti Lisbon Treaty
lobby hangs a sign in Dublin city center.

EU Constitution Awaits Irish Ratification

June 09, 2008 12:48 PM
by Denis Cummings
Ireland is holding a referendum June 12 on whether to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which establishes a constitution for the European Union.

30-Second Summary

Recent polls indicate that opponents to the Treaty are increasing in Ireland, and may even outnumber supporters.

The Treaty of Lisbon, also known as the Reform Treaty, was drafted in response to the failed ratification of the European Constitution.

The European Constitution was drafted in 2004 amid expectations that it would be ratified by all 27 member states. However, it was rejected in 2005 by referenda in France and Holland, and full ratification was postponed after it was approved by just 18 member states.

The Treaty of Lisbon was drafted with the intention that it be ratified by member state legislatures. In fact, Ireland is the only country holding a referendum. As the treaty must be passed unanimously, a rejection by Ireland would doom it to further revision and rounds of voting.

The issue is being fiercely debated in Ireland. Proponents argue that the EU has greatly benefited the Irish, and a rejection would compromise the country’s standing in the union. Opponents to the treaty feel that it is a threat to Irish sovereignty and harmful to rural farmers.

Backers of the treaty hope to avoid a repeat of the 2001 referendum on the Nice Treaty, when they suffered a shocking defeat. The government was subsequently forced to hold a second referendum, which passed.

A rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon would be an embarrassing blow for the EU, and raise questions about whether the organization actually has the support of its people.

“If they were honest,” writes The Economist, “the 26 others would admit that they would struggle to secure a Yes vote.”

Headline Link: Ireland to vote on Treaty of Lisbon

Opinion and Analysis: Debating the Treaty

Reactions: The debate in Ireland

Background: The Nice Treaty, the European Constitution, and the Lisbon Treaty

Reference: The Lisbon Treaty


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