Cowen Under Pressure To Keep Lisbon Alive

Brian Cowen is facing mounting pressure on his next move following the Lisbon Treaty 'No' vote.

European Union foreign ministers insisted on Monday that the EU reform treaty was alive despite Ireland's 'No' vote although conceded they had no "quick fixes" for rescuing it.

The Taoiseach will have to face EU leaders at a summit in Brussels later this week. At the summit, Mr Cowen will have to explain whether he sees any hope of winning a new referendum, a step Irish officials have not ruled out but which they believe is a high-risk strategy.

However, at present the 26 EU partners are not taking 'Non' for an answer and a new vote may be the only way to save the treaty.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also contributed to the pressure by saying Britain will continue to ratify the treaty. Mr Miliband said it was right to "respect" the Irish decision - but also right to "take our own decision", adding there is no question of "bulldozing" Ireland into voting again.

"We have got to wait for the Irish government to decide what they're going to do next. The rules are absolutely clear, if all 27 countries do not pass the Lisbon Treaty it cannot pass into law," he said.

Following the shock results, Mr Cowen explained his next move would be akin to crisis management, "trying to make sure we don't end up where all of the rest of the union decide whether Ireland wants to redefine its relationship with the rest of Europe".

"I want to avoid that situation. I want Ireland to continue to be a constructive member of the European Union," he said.

Mr Cowen also spoke of his personal upset over the failure of the Treaty. "I was hoping for a win in this referendum campaign," he conceded. "It was the first political objective I set myself having got the job as Taoiseach. I'm disappointed that I haven't succeeded.”

The Taoiseach warned that Ireland was not immune from adverse developments internationally, and appeared to signal a difficult Budget ahead.


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