Sarkozy says Irish must vote on Lisbon Treaty again

Other News Materials 16 July 2008 13:26 (UTC +04:00)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants Ireland to hold another referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which Irish voters rejected last month, the French daily le Figaro reported on Wednesday.

"The Irish must vote again, and I will veto any (EU) enlargement as long as there are no new institutions," Sarkozy was quoted as telling a handful of French lawmakers on Tuesday at a buffet at the Elysee Palace.

Speaking during a visit to New York, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen played down Sarkozy's comments, saying there was a range of views about what to do after Ireland's no vote, but the government was only at the start of the process, reported dpa.

He said it was not just for his government to decide, but for all 27 members of the EU, and the Irish government had not come to any conclusions yet.

Privately, sources close to Cowen are said to be "seething" at Sarkozy's comments, Irish national broadcaster RTE reported Wednesday.

Sarkozy will be traveling to Ireland on July 21 as acting head of the EU.

France assumed the rotating six-month EU presidency on July 1.

His strategy is a replica of the one that enabled the passage of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which the Danes approved one year after having rejected it in a referendum.

In addition, in 2001 Ireland voted against the Treaty of Nice, which - like the Lisbon Treaty is intended to do - updated and streamlined the EU's institutional decision-making process.

Ireland voted again on the Nice Treaty in 2002 and approved it the second time.

In order to be adopted, the Lisbon Treaty must be approved by all 27 EU member nations.

Last week, Sarkozy told lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg that he would present a solution to the impasse, "in agreement with the Irish government," in October or December.

According to the daily Le Monde, Sarkozy is prepared to grant the Irish a major concession and keep the size of the European Commission at 27.

The Lisbon Treaty currently foresees reducing the size of the commission to 18 for the period 2014-19.