The European Council held extensive discussions yesterday and today on the outcome of the Irish referendum rejecting the Lisbon Treaty and the implications of this for the European Union. Mr Janez Janša, the Slovenian Prime Minister and President of the European Council, today assessed the debate as very constructive, “I sensed a very positive mood and a high level of solidarity. I am sure my colleagues felt the same.”
“The Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, gave an initial assessment of the reasons underlying the unfavourable referendum result in Ireland. After thorough debate, we agreed that more time was needed to analyse the situation,” reported Mr Janša. The Council thus agreed to Ireland’s suggestion to return to the issue at the European Council meeting of 15 October 2008 in order to consider the way forward.
The European leaders also pointed out, however, that the purpose of the Lisbon Treaty is to help the enlarged European Union act more effectively and that the process of ratification is continuing in the Member States that have not yet ratified the Treaty. They also took note of the fact that the Czech Republic cannot complete the ratification process until its Constitutional Court delivers an affirmative opinion to the effect that the Lisbon Treaty is concordant with the Czech constitution.
“I am convinced that our agreement gives a positive impetus to work towards a definitive solution,” commented Mr Janša. He warned, nonetheless, that there was no time to delay. “The world is changing, and we cannot afford to be left behind. We have to improve institutional capacity and upgrade the democratic life of the European Union but we also have to enhance economic and social security,” he concluded.
The EU leaders also stressed the importance of continuing to deliver tangible results in various policy areas of concern to citizens.