The EU Observer is reporting that the EU heads of state gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit have reached an agreement on a second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty before the end of 2009. As a condition for the do-over, Ireland received EU assurances of non-intervention on taxation and social issues like abortion and euthansia, as well as assurances regarding Irish worries about how European defense would impact the country’s neutrality.
The 26 also agreed to maintain the “one country, one commissioner” system on the EU High Commission. The Lisbon Treaty had envisaged a rotating commission of reduced number, in order to streamline decision-making, but had provided a loophole on scrapping the idea, so long as the decision was unanimous. That leaves the Czech Republic, which assumes the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1, as the last member state not to have voted on the treaty. Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus as well as Polish President Lech Kazcynski have declared they won’t sign parliamentary acts approving the treaty unless Ireland ultimately adopts the treaty as well.
Meanwhile, an EU parliamentary delegation visiting the States informally queried U.S. lawmakers regarding allegations that the Pentagon or CIA had funded an Irish businessman’s campaign opposing ratification in last year’s referendum. The man, Declan Ganley, owns a company that sells communication equipment to the U.S. government. The U.S. lawmakers, to the delegation’s surprise, said nothing could be further from the truth.
I’d read an article a few weeks back describing the delegation’s attempt to find some way to broach the subject without turning it into a diplomatic incident, since the U.S. had made it very clear that it considered the matter a non-starter. The delegation, after some trepidation, had settled on an “informal query.” I guess they got their “informal response.”