An audible sigh of relief as Ireland affirms the Lisbon Treaty by 2:1 at the second time of asking – but Lisbon not a done deal just yet as attention moves to Poland and the Czech Republic

October 5, 2009

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The Irish electorate's resounding “Yes” to the Lisbon Treaty this weekend (67.1% Yes, 32.9% No) has been welcomed by political leaders throughout the European Union and by European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso.

This time round Irish voters supported the Treaty, although some protagonists have been critical that the question was put to the people for a second time. Although if you aggregate the votes from the two referenda, there is no doubt the narrow NO last time and the resounding YES this time give a very clear answer in favour of ratifying the Treaty. This time around a lot of misunderstanding and unwarranted fears were removed from the debate particularly by some very effective communication from the Referendum Commission headed up by High Court Judge Frank Clarke. It is also true that the changed economic climate focused minds in favour of Ireland remaining as a committed member at the core of the European Union and of not taking any risks.

However, the Lisbon Treaty can only be ratified when all 27 Member States of the EU sign it. Attention now turns to Poland and the Czech Republic.  While both the Czech and Polish parliaments have already approved the Lisbon Treaty, Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, has yet to sign it (though this is believed to be imminent), while the Czech Republic’s President, Vaclav Klaus, is awaiting a pronouncement from the Czech Constitutional Court on the Treaty's validity before proceeding. FH Dublin looks forward to some valuable insight from our colleagues in Warsaw and Prague!

We're also watching Britain's Conservative Party who are having their annual party conference this week. Their Leader, David Cameron and his now largely Euro-skeptic Party are in a bit of a pickle by sort of saying they'd have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty! They are saying this, in anticipation of winning the next British General Election to be held next year, eventhough the British Parliament and Government have already ratified the Treaty. We'll see!

After a protracted period of scrutiny, spats and sometimes scurrilous goings-on, Ireland is relieved to have the glare of the international community focused elsewhere…..for now anyway.