I have taken some time to react to voters’ rejection in Ireland of the new Lisbon Treaty for the simple reason that it was bad and disappointing news and, in these circumstances, it is better not to give an instantaneous reaction.
It is bad news first, because it shows that the man in the street in Ireland does not feel satisfied with Europe, and disappointing, because of the doubt cast on what I consider is a clear and much needed improvement for the European Union.
Of course we respect the vote of the electors and we will try to understand why they expressed this opinion.
We don’t know for sure the specific reasons for the rejection of the referendum and it will be up to Irish Prime Minister Cowen to analyse them and to draw conclusions with the other European Heads of State and Government. Nevertheless I am convinced that the vast majority of the Irish electors are not against the EU per se and that we should continue to share the solidarity that has always existed between Member States and EU.
But we also have to consider that 19 member states have already ratified the text and that the process is continuing in those Member States where it has still not been completed.
It is not the first crisis that the European Union has experienced and in all cases up to now, EU solidarity has always won the day and European integration has always been reinforced. I am convinced that this will be the case again and that pretty soon we will share the improvement of what is encapsulated in the Lisbon treaty. For me this means:
- A more democratic and transparent Europe
- A more efficient Europe
- A Europe of rights and values, freedom and security, and
- Europe as an actor on the global stage
For more information on the Treaty of Lisbon, visit http://europa.eu/lisbon_treaty/index_en.htm