Sunday, January 25, 2009

Annual “State of the [European] Union Address” by Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Treaty of Lisbon was unanimously signed by the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States in December 2007. Unlike the defunct “Constitutional Treaty,” it “merely” amends the 1992 Treaty on European Union and the 1957 EC Treaty rather than replace them with a new single text. As is well known, Ireland is the only country to have rejected the Treaty of Lisbon by referendum in June 2008. Its political significance notwithstanding, the Irish “No” is legally problematic because EU treaties cannot enter into force unless they are ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The Irish government, however, agreed last month to hold a second ballot after it secured some guarantees as regards the impact of the Lisbon Treaty (or rather lack of) on Ireland’s taxation policies, its military neutrality and ethical issues such as abortion.

Speaking recently at the annual "State of the Union" address to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, Minister Micheál Martin made clear that the Irish government continues to view the Lisbon Treaty as an indispensable adjustment of the Union’s rules so as to allow a larger EU to act in a more effective and accountable manner. He also confirmed that the Irish government is committed to organizing another referendum before the end of this year.

For a summary of my views on the Irish referendum debacle, see the editorial Prof. Dermot Cahill and I wrote with for the latest issue of the Irish Journal of European Law.


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