According to the Telegraph, the Irish government has now conceded defeat in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. This is pretty stunning, because the Lisbon Treaty was pretty much the last hope to get Europe back on track after what amounts to 12 years of paralyzed institutional construction. Ireland could conceivably be asked to conduct a do-over once the treaty is ratified by the rest of the member nations. But suffice it to say, I don’t think any of Europe’s foreign ministries are going to be taking the weekend off.
I know there are a lot of Euro-skeptics, both in Europe and the States, and a lot of their complaints are valid. But I’ve always found the EU to be a pretty compelling narrative. I think, too, there was something very compelling about the novelty of potential forms it could yet have assumed. So I’m disappointed, and a bit concerned about the direction things will take. The status quo hardly seems manageable, and there are a lot of European questions yet to be fully resolved (Kosovo, the Balkans), to say nothing of the challenges facing the global governance system. This is a “net win” for the U.S. in terms of its relative influence within the Western bloc, if one still exists. But in the way it dilutes Europe’s influence vis à vis China, Russia, and some of the other emerging powers, I think that will end up being a Pyrrhic victory.