Friday, 16 January 2009

'Lisbon is adopted': EU leaders agree on 'bribes' to convince Irish voters to vote yes to Treaty at second referendum

Europe’s leaders have agreed on ‘assurances’ designed to persuade Irish voters to reverse their rejection of the EU constitution.

‘Lisbon is adopted,’ one EU diplomat said today. The deal was confirmed separately by two other diplomats at the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

Irish voters will be encouraged to back the document in a second vote next year.

EU chiefs last night agreed in principle key concessions to Dublin at a Brussels summit in return for a re-run of the referendum. They hope the Irish will deliver the ‘right’ result when they vote again.

It means the re-jigged blueprint for a ‘United States of Europe’ – now renamed the Lisbon Treaty – could be in force by the beginning of 2010, despite being rejected by voters three times.

And Britain will be fully signed up to it without the referendum Labour promised.

According to draft conclusions for the two-day meeting leaked last night, Dublin ‘is committed to seeking ratification’ of the treaty by the end of October 2009.

The move was seized on by the Tories who upped the pressure on Gordon Brown for reneging on a 2005 General Election manifesto pledge when the constitution was re-drawn as a treaty.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen is expected today to confirm that another referendum on the treaty will be held. He will claim that securing deals on retaining Ireland’s EU commissioner, its military neutrality, abortion, workers’ rights and taxation laws means a second vote is necessary.

Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin said the concession on a commissioner was a fundamental reform. Under the original treaty terms, the number of commissioners was set to fall to 18 and appointed on a rotation basis, meaning some countries would be left unrepresented.

No firm date for a new poll will be set today, but experts say that October is widely favoured.

Such is the belief of EU leaders that Ireland will cave in, there are already plans for secret talks on the trappings for the Lisbon-proposed fullshowing-time EU president.

The post holder could be given a personal jet, a palatial official residence and a personal staff of up to 22.

It raises the prospect that Tony Blair, a frontrunner for the job, could get the ‘Blair Force One’ aircraft he was denied as Prime Minister.

Declan Ganley, the chairman of Libertas, which led the triumphant ‘No’ campaign in the first Irish referendum, said the summit deal was an example of the Irish being dictated to by Brussels.

‘The powerful elite in Brussels is utter contempt for the democratic decision of the Irish people in rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, he said.

‘It’s time to put a stop to this bullying.’

In Britain, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague attacked Mr Brown for his part in pressuring Dublin to vote again.

He said: ‘Trying to force the Lisbon Treaty down the Irish people’s throats again is not only a dangerous distraction from that agenda, it is profoundly undemocratic.’

He added: ‘If our unelected Prime Minister insists on forcing the Irish people to vote twice, the case for letting the British people vote once will be morally unanswerable.’

All 27 member states must ratify the treaty before it comes into force.

Ireland derailed the ratification process when voters rejected it by 53 per cent to 47 per cent in June.

Since then, the Czechs have delayed their parliamentary ratification and Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski has refused to ratify the treaty for the time being, calling it ‘pointless’.

The ‘new’ treaty, signed in Lisbon in December 2007, was drawn up to replace the EU constitution, thrown out by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

Critics say that the two documents are virtually identical with crucial powers handed over from member states to Brussels.

The EU insists that it is needed to help ease decision-making within the expanding bloc.

Open Europe director Lorraine Mullally said: ‘This whole process is nothing but a charade to make it look as though people’s concerns about the treaty have been addressed. The Irish ‘No’ vote is being ignored in a most dishonest way.’

By Michael Lea Daily Mail – 12 December 2008

© Daily Mail