ANN CAHILL: Sarkozy increases treaty pressure

THE pressure on Ireland to ratify the Lisbon treaty increased yesterday with French president Nicolas Sarkozy saying the EU cannot continue without the reforms in the document.

At the same time, the prime minister of the eurosceptic Czech government, which suffered a blow at the polls this weekend, said he believed they could ratify the treaty before the end of the year. This is expected to leave Ireland as the only country not to do so.

France holds the EU presidency and Mr Sarkozy told the European Parliament yesterday that the economic and the Georgian-Russian crisis had shown that the EU cannot continue with the system of rotating presidencies every six months.

These crises needed as rapid a response from Europe as possible, but they also showed that to do this the EU must reform its institutions, he said.

“With crisis as complex as the Georgian-Russian one and as the financial crisis, it is not reasonable to have a rotating presidency every six months,” said Mr Sarkozy.

France has the presidency and MEPs pointed out that the previous or the next country to hold the presidency, the Slovenes or Czechs, could not have had the same clout with Russia as France for instance.

He said he will work with Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on a road map to be brought to the December summit of EU leaders on ways and means of getting out of the problem of Ireland’s rejection of the treaty.

Mr Sarkozy hoped a way forward could be found before the end of the French presidency at the end of December.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen told his fellow EU leaders last week he would tell them what Ireland intends to do about the issue in December. Legal teams from the EU and Ireland, together with diplomats, are working on a series of declarations about Ireland’s neutrality and total State control over the issues of abortion and tax that could be added to a second referendum.


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