( dpa ) - Calling it a "sensible and pragmatic approach to modernising the European Union," the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern Thursday urged the Irish public to support the EU reform treaty while signalling that the referendum would take place before summer.
Ireland is the only one of the EU's 27 members which will be holding a referendum on the bloc's latest accord on institutional reform.
Ahern said it was likely that the Lisbon treaty would take place pre-summer, Ireland's public broadcaster RTE reported.
In his first major public statement on the issue, Ahern strongly endorsed the EU Reform Treaty and said that he was confident that the Irish people would safeguard Ireland's future economic stability and growth by supporting it.
Ahern emphasised that the reform treaty's "sensible and pragmatic approach" to modernising the European Union very much reflected Ireland's approach to the Union.
"The Irish people want a Europe that is equipped to support social and economic development and job creation, and rise to the global challenges of the 21st century," he said.
Last Saturday, a poll published in Irish Times newspaper showed that nearly two-thirds of Irish voters were still undecided on the issue.
The poll for the Irish Times newspaper said 64 per cent were still undecided or had no opinion on the so-called Lisbon Treaty, an increase of two points since a previous poll in November.
At the same time, the poll showed 26 per cent in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, as against 10 per cent opposed.
The treaty, if ratified by all member states, will come into effect on January 1, 2009.