19/06/2008

Europe Puts The Squeeze On Ireland For Lisbon Decision

Brian Cowen is attempting to ease the pressure on his Government as the continent’s leaders pace the passageways of power, awaiting his next move.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel today rejected any idea that the European Union could move on without Ireland after the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty here.

There "is no other way" than proceeding together, Ms Merkel said this morning ahead of a crisis summit in Brussels.

On the same day, the Taoiseach met with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso for an advance meeting before the summit where Ireland’s 'No' vote is to dominate discussions.

At present, several options for Ireland are beginning to transpire. The front running option so far is the creation of a binding document, giving Ireland assurances on the issues of abortion, corporation tax, and military neutrality.

It is also being suggested there may be some movement on the allocation of European commissioners, to allay the Irish voters' fears on the matter.

Mr Cowen is hinting at taking "considerable time" to consult on possible ways forward both at home and abroad.

The "considerable" time period Mr Cowen believes he needs may not be achievable however, as the pressure stays on.

Mrs Merkel told lawmakers in the Bundestag that Ireland was not to be left behind. She said: "A two-speed Europe is not the way forward. We must ensure that treaties in the EU are promoted unanimously. Europe cannot afford another phase of reflection.

"The European Council must take a decision as quickly as possible," she added.

Mr Cowen will get a face-to-face response from the European leaders later today, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the summit.

He will also be holding special meetings with Jose Manuel Barroso, current President of the European Council, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, and European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering.

Adding to the pressure, Mr Poettering said ahead of the meeting the ratification process must continue.

(DW)

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