The Government insists it will proceed with the fiscal treaty referendum even though Germany is delaying its ratification as the fallout from the French and Greek elections continues.
A spokesman for Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the referendum would proceed as planned, saying: “We’re looking forward to a positive outcome on May 31.”
The Government’s firm stance came despite confirmation from Berlin that the Bundestag, the German parliament, would postpone its ratification from May 25 until late June.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure from her Socialist SPD opposition party to go along with demands from François Hollande, the incoming French president, for a growth pact to compliment the fiscal treaty.
The vote on both the treaty and on the ESM, the new bailout fund, was due to take place on May 25 in Berlin. A special EU leaders meeting was unexpectedly called for just two days before this date, on May 23, to discuss growth and which Mr Hollande would attend.
Mr Hollande needs the growth pact to ensure success in the French assembly elections in June, and to win the two thirds support needed to pass the treaty.
The Government and the EU institutions have been playing down the impact of the growth measures on the fiscal treaty, and Ms Merkel has insisted there will be no renegotiation of the treaty.
However, Mr Hollande’s aides have made it clear that, if he does not get his growth measures, he would reject the fiscal treaty.
The Bundestag’s decision to postpone the vote is an embarrassment for Ms Merkel and will lead to fears it could delay the launching of the €500bn ESM in mid-July. While the fiscal treaty deadline is the end of the year, any wobble by Germany would be a major setback for Ms Merkel.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy last night called on the Government to exercise similar caution and delay the referendum until after the French elections.
“If parliamentarians in Germany think it prudent to wait until the outcome of the elections for France’s national assembly in order to see what emerges from the new French administration with regard to the terms of the treaty before they vote on it, I think that the Irish people deserve the same time extension in order to have all the information to hand before making their decision.
“Irish people must be allowed to wait and see if François Hollande’s demand for growth-boosting measures is included in the pact before they make such a crucial decision,” she said.
United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett went a step further and called for the treaty to be abandoned.
“While the rest of Europe is bailing into the lifeboats, Enda Kenny continues to steer the Titanic towards the austerity iceberg,” he said.
Mr Kenny’s spokesman indicated the German events would have no impact here. “The fact remains that just as we focus on our timetable for ratification, it is up to others to do so in their own way.”
German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: “We will ratify what we have agreed in Europe on time.”
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