Last year, Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty which would extend the EU\’s powers. It has demanded legally-binding amendments before the treaty is put to the people again in a second referendum this autumn. Irish approval is the last major obstacle to the treaty\’s enactment.
But EU governments had hoped to add Irish sweeteners to the treaty without triggering the need for all 27 member countries to repeat a complex and divisive ratification process. Those hopes looked to be in tatters yesterday after Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, made his ultimatum, in \”strictest confidence\”, to other EU leaders as they arrived in Brussels for routine summit. Mr Cowen is worried that anything less than legally-binding amendments could later be overturned.
\”In order to provide maximum reassurance to the Irish people, I need to be able to come out of our meeting and state, without fear of contradiction, that the legal guarantees will, in time, acquire full Treaty status,\” he wrote.
\”I require a clear and unequivocal agreement that, at a future point after the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, the legal guarantees will be attached to the EU Treaties by way of a protocol.\”
EU diplomats have told The Daily Telegraph that such an arrangement would require the opening of full-blown treaty negotiations next year, possibly allowing a new Conservative government to renegotiate the power balance between Britain and Brussels.
Force them all to renegotiate!